Sitting at home in our beautiful garden, with the most superb view across the wide blue Mediterranean sea, is something I do every day. But our restless minds want new stimulations, want to see the same thing from other angles, in other words: to climb a mountain to see what is on the other side.
The other day I was leafing through the Turkish edition of ZOOM magazine – the first English edition was out in August – where I discovered an interesting article on Yedikonuk and the photos promised something unusual. And that is where we went the other day, a day at the end of August, away from the daily routine, away from the telephone and internet. We packed our usual off-road equipment, a small picnic, the water in bags with cooling elements, basic first aid kit, flashlight, toilet paper, swimsuits and maps, normal maps and Google maps.
We left early in the morning, the weather still cool, and we took the northern coastal road towards Esentepe. I still remember the first time we went to the Karpaz in 1999 on this same road. No, it was not the same road. The old one wound along the coast, and was often a single track road. Today, the new highway takes us straight across the country through new development areas. Only after Esentepe did we join the old road again, near which is a small harbour for the local fishermen, a modest and peaceful beach for holiday makers. Then we felt able to enjoy the old, unspoilt beauty of the northern coast of Cyprus. For me, it is the colours which impress me most, the colours of Cyprus: the honey gold fields after harvesting and the occasional dark green trees – carob and olive trees – bent from the wind, with only a few houses here and there, a small church, some ruins with stories to tell. On the one side, they have the backdrop of the blue sea, on the other, they are seen against the intense colour palette of the mountains, depending on the hour of the day.
Up and down, the road follows the hills, constantly opening new vistas of unspoilt beauty, the coastline, the small bays, the wide sea and you feel a tugging at your restless soul when you see the contours of the coastline disappear in the far purple distance.
Unspoilt beauty – what does it mean? It means that this piece of land bears no mark of ownership, that your mind can take possession of it if you want, a feeling the early discoverers, explorers must have had.
We follow the road until it takes us across the mountains towards Büyükkonuk. Just before we turn south, we take a last, wistful glance at the wild costal area as yet undeveloped for traffic. Before you come to Büyükkonuk, a village known for its eco-tourism, we follow the road sign to Yedikonuk, a rural village spread along soft hills. Here we have to ask our way. Somewhere in the centre of the village, we ask an old man who sits in his porch looking into the hills, doing nothing. He gets up slowly, obviously with pain; his wife and daughter come out of the house and we show them the pictures in ZOOM magazine: “Plaj, problem yok, always straight ahead” and the road to the “Plaj”, the beach, is pointed out to us. Outside the village, the road becomes a dirt track, and we have to go very slowly. Here, the Google Earth maps help us to find the right way. There is a crossroads, the road on the right leads to a viewing point, a ruined house on top of a mountain. The last bit you have to walk, which we do. But what a breathtaking view! From here, we can see the entire coastline from the west to the east: small stretches of farmland, the design of a checker board, dark and light. Whilst behind us, lies a vast area of hills, scrub covered hills, endless.
Now, the round sandy bay down below invites us for a swim, as it is a hot day. A fishing boat pitches in the middle of the bay, and there are some small huts around. One of the huts is a restaurant but it is closed. It looks very inviting, and I would love to come here for a fish meal one day. A good place for snorkeling, I think. While I float on my back, I look up to the wild rock formations inviting exploration; there are some caves and rock windows but it is too hot in August to go up. One would need proper trekking shoes.
We continue the road towards the east, through some farmland areas, one or two houses, nothing more, so still and quiet; there is a ruin on the sea front amidst old royal palm trees. It was a well designed house once belonging to some rich farmers, we assume, and on the wide terrace they probably were enjoying beautiful evenings while the sun plunged into the sea. The smell of the earth, the smell of the rocky, flat, small bay, I hold my nose up and sniff. We imagine that the owners did not give up this place lightly.
Our road leads us to Balalan, and as we come over the hill we see the village at our feet with the majestic tip of the mosque, and from up here we look across the hills towards Mehmetcik, seven kilometres away, the sun right in our eyes. This is vine growing country, and Mehmetcik is known for its vine festival in August, now just ended.
We are not in a hurry to return home, so we take the road via Gecitkale, the new one over the mountains through pine covered hills towards Esentepe, where we close today’s circle.
For a while, for the duration of just one day, a unique and unspoilt beauty belonged to us, and we left it untouched for others to make use of, in just the same way.
Copyright Heidi Trautmann 2009