The will to be different, the will to conserve nature and old traditions, is already apparent when you approach the soft hills around Büyükkonuk. Well cared for farmland, the soil cultivated and aired around the olive trees, huge fig trees full of juicy fruit, carob trees and grape vines. All around the village stables with fat sheep. It looks good, this countryside.
We arrive around lunch time and all parking areas are fully used with many helpers around from the village. In the centre of the village just next to the old church hundreds of stalls are aligned, all with the same green roof. Smoke mixes with the mist of the day, smoke from many grill stations where people are seated relaxing from a busy viewing and shopping time around the stalls.
It is the 4th Eco Festival, the Belediye from Büyükkonuk has organized and apparently with much success in cooperation with the villagers and the help of Lois and Ismail Cemal whom everybody knows for their activities around traditional village life. The third was only in May of this year. The slogan of the festival is “Let’s enjoy living in a village”.
People have worked hard to establish a sort of routine since the beginning some years ago. All the stalls sell the same natural colour cotton bags beautifully adorned with green edgings and printing for TL 3.00 only, to hold all the many goodies you have bought that day; we had to have two of them. And surprise… surprise, at least to me, the goods were packed into paper bags and no plastic. Children from TCCCE please listen! Here’s to your slogan! We went along the stalls tasting from everything offered, different kinds of halva, sweet and spicy börek, cookies, almonds, home made preserves, actually everything was home made; golifa: something new for me, wheat sprouts with raisins, nuts, sesame and anis seeds and pomegranate, delicious. Good village bread was presented in many styles, with olives and hellim but also with carob and seeds. In one corner one man sold drums in all sizes and the noise was heard over the entire place, next to him we were shown how to make chair seats from wicker and the working of metal for plates and trays . Of whatever grows in and around a village, preserves were offered; everything was used to make tools from, brooms from dry thyme for example.
To entertain all the visitors’ senses theatrical shows and folk dances were announced in between and there was a constant coming and going. Unbelievable! Thousands of people!
There were demonstrations of how to properly make compost, how to produce mud bricks, how to produce coffee from the first step to the cooking process. We were shown methods of how to save energy by special panels explained by a German local expert in this field. And what not! I was truly amazed.
We had a great day and everybody enjoyed it. The food tents were packed full and it was rather warm so we decided to have our coffee and a small meze lunch at the new Pine View Restaurant just outside the village, a place which has also been established by the Belediye, I understand. We did enjoy that place in the shade under huge pine trees, picnic areas surrounding the old school house and lovely wooden huts to spend a weekend in. Really fantastic!
On our way home we stopped at a field for some more fresh figs. My congratulations to the organizers of this festival, we shall certainly come again next year.
Oh, I must not forget to mention a cook book I bought where all the delicious dishes are described which were offered on this occasion. It is in Turkish and English: “Traditional Turkish Cypriot Deserts and Preserves” by Inci Akün sponsored by the Department of National Education and Culture.
Copyright Heidi Trautmann 2009