Monday, 25 October 2010

03/10/2010 - 10/10/2010 Garp (Babakale)


Here's a link to the website so you can see what the place is all about...

My first morning at Garp takes a leisurely start. Deon makes chy with root ginger – perfect morning drink to wash away any ill effects of lastnights wine. After breakfast George arrives on the quad-bike - he is one of the guys who works for Murat (the owner of Garp). George has a cheery persona and we enjoy trading language lessons at every possible occasion. After breakfast we take a short trip to the area of the valley littered with olive trees. With giant combs and sticks we pilfer the bitter fruits from their leafy home. The work is fun and not particularly strenuous. The responsibility of musical accompaniment falls at George's feet and he sings, hums, and whistles as we work. Once the tree is empty we bunch up the cloth (that covered the ground to catch the olives) and pour the goods into a sack. The process is repeated until the yield reaches 10-15 kilos - typically this is between one and three trees. With sufficient supply for a days olive pressing we go to Babakale. In the day light I can see that the tiny track is just wide enough for a quad-bike, and the cliff drops away quite dramatically to the waves below.



The guys get to work pressing the olives. The process itself is simple but the machine is very temperamental. As it turns out, I don't need to concern myself with this, as my work lies nextdoor. The adjoining building is constructed of sandstone block walls and orange clay rooftiles that rest on rough timber trusses. Quite a charming building that appears to be a few hundred years old – that is, to my untrained eye. Inside the walls are rendered, but the covering is old and must be removed. I'm handed both a small and a large pick-axe. Periodically over the next few days other workers come and go, George, Ahmet and Mahri(who Ellen decides is a Mediterranean version of Elvis) but I remain a constant feature, ever chipping away. I to-and-fro between enjoying the work and loathing it. There's an aspect of manual work I've always enjoyed, the feeling of using my body, and the strength that comes from doing so. It's simply a form of exercise I guess, and in this case I'm utilising my ever diminishing upper body. The loathing comes from the life I thought I had left behind. One of the reasons I chose to work for myself is that I often had “my way” of doing things. In part because I often thought my way was better – and although sometimes I think it was, obviously there were times when I was proved otherwise. And as you may have guessed, this time I wanted to do things my way – queue frustration and intermittent sulking. The job could be completed in less that half the time by employing the use of one power tool. My frustration was only aggravated when I asked myself “Why do I care?”. It was not my money on the line, I was simply a pawn in their game. And why should I inflict my way of doing things on anyone else? - Perhaps speed and cost aren't the only players here. As with cycling, mindless manual labour leaves lots of time for introspection. I was able to look at my rather selfish lifestyle.

Self Employed – for various reasons, chiefly to avoid being told what to do.

Travelling predominately solo – Allowing me the freedom to do things my way.

As I type this I consider deleting much of the above, to save you from my sulking. But sod it! My Blog, my way! : )

You gather I didn't learn as much about sustainable agriculture (and the like) as I expected from my first Wwoofing experience. But it was far from all doom and gloom. And I'm very grateful for the experience, if for no other reason than it allowed me time to think.


Lunchtimes are always a big event during my working day. Ramazan (the man in charge while Murat is away) is an incredible cook. Each lunchtime, using only a single gas burner, he prepares the most wonderful feast. Fish caught the very same day, fried up with peppers, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Fresh bread and raw onion make up the side dishes side dishes. We all sit around a plastic patio table and eat from one giant pan. Immediately my sulks and blisters are forgotten. I earn the nickname “dustbin”. All leftover bread and food is pushed to my end of the table – one of the advantages that comes with having the appetite of the touring cyclist. Often lunch is concluded with several glasses of chy and a rest.

Evenings are always a highlight. Sometimes Sahli takes us to the restaurant for more excellent food (and beer). At other times we return to the house and cook for ourselves. We are allowed to use Murat's house. A house that I have to mention would be a worthy contender for one of my favourite TV shows back home “Grand Designs”. The open plan kitchen/diner/lounge is vast, simple and beautiful. A colossal glass sliding door opens out onto the patio, beyond which the Aegean Sea extends to the Greek Island of Lesbos. Every night we are given bottles of the wonderful wine. One one night we make use of the giant TV to watch some of the Martin Scorsese Blues boxset. Some nights we just chat and listen to music – it's bliss. Ellen and I are both very much into music and so trade songs and albums late into the night. Once Rebecca from the US turns up she add's further to the musical cocktail. One night we have a party. A group of Architecture students from Istanbul are doing projects in Babakale. With Sahli's invite they come to the house on excessively loaded quad bikes. There is much live music, singing and dancing. One girl (whos name I didn't catch) has an incredible voice and we are treated to some traditional Turkish songs. All in all a very good night. Another great night was had down at the fire pit. We brought fish from the local fisherman. I showed Ellen and Rebecca how to de-scale, gut and prepare them. At times I had to blag my way through it – having not done anything like that since my early teens. We then grilled the fillets on the open fire along with foil wrapped veggies – yum!

If I appeared to whine about the work then - my apologies. I must stress that the lunchtimes and evenings more than made up for it. Upon leaving Babakale I felt I had made good friends, and I would absolutely return anytime. I do suspect my view of wwoofing is somewhat obscured – but that just means I need to do more of it.

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