Thoughts reverent and irreverent from the road in Turkey


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The silence of the night in Sidyma is magical. A cow bellows, a chicken crows, but there’s not the slightest sound of obtrusive modernity. I’ve come up here to visit Brea, a Canadian woman who has set up a goat farm amidst the ruins of ancient Lycia and I’m overwhelmed by the tranquillity of the setting.

 In the car park three kid goats are waiting to greet us. There’s Rambo and Rebi, both of them the second of twins born to mothers too young to be able to feed two. Then there’s poor little Gece, slightly older than the others and born with rickets so that he walks with his lower front legs bent under him as if he’s permanently on his knees. 

Two German shepherd dogs come rushing to greet us, Kiki Bey and his grandson Jesse. Then there’s the tiny chick that has been orphaned and must be hand-fed a diet of grasshoppers. 

sidymamosqueBrea and I go walking amid the ruins. In the wall of the small modern mosque she points out the Greek inscriptions embedded in the wall upside down and on their side, and I note the Doric capital built into the portico. A woman wanders from a house nearby. “There’s a hamam (bathhouse) over there,” she says and leads me into a group of ruined walls. Here her husband, the imam, has installed a coop for his chickens. Just round the corner we find an outside sink and work service supported by a column with a Greek inscription. “One of the neighbours has a mosaic floor inside their house. It’s covered with a machine-made carpet and bits of cardboard,” Brea tells me. 

The Lycian Way comes this way, trailing along paths between high dry-stone walls topped with twigs. From time to time huge tombs of a design I haven’t seen before soar up beside us. The best has a coffered ceiling carved with roses and the tiny heads of men and women. Nearby stand the tombs of a father and son, both called Aristodemus. In a field stand a group of seven enormous sarcophagi. 

Modern Sidyma is minuscule. “Forty-five people,” says Brea although officially there are more like 150. There’s no dolmuş to get here. More importantly there’s no proper water supply, just a system of wells, which means that water has to be tankered up to the residents once a week.sidymakitchen

At night as we sit in the neighbour’s garden after dinner hundreds of moths flutter around the lamp and settle on the wall so that it looks as if it has been wallpapered. There’s much talk of snakes and scorpions the size of a hand. In my room, though, the whitewashed walls set off the blue bedspreads to perfection, and there’s a raffia rug made by a local woman on the floor. We bottle-feed the kids and make sure the chick is safe in its basket, well away from the cats. Silence falls. Fethiye could be a million miles away.


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