It reminded me of that day in Western Sahara, when Lina and I were invited to leave our bikes at a petrol station by the main road, and join a man in his Land Rover to his oasis in the desert.
When someone invites you to their home, and besides tells you to leave the bike behind because of the difficult or even dangerous road, it means that they want to show you some place special and beautiful; that they want to show you their paradise.
Aydin presented himself to me at the café in Limandere, and invited me to his house. His son Erdem helped to translate from a distance via SMS: “Have you ever picked hazelnuts? We will have lots of fun!” My bicycle was taken care of by Aydin’s friends at the bus station in Kocaali, and his neighbour drove me up to small village Acmabasi. The road winded up and down steep hillsides, and I was thankful that I did not insist on going by bike. Reaching Acmabasi after some ten kilometres, Erdem welcomes me.
In the late afternoon sun, we sit down on a mattress on their yard. They have a simple wooden house, and around it and us are their vast fields of hazelnut trees. The air is clean; the silence is meditative. We crack hazelnuts (of course!) and eat sweet pears and figs from their garden. Erdem’s mother Mülkiye joins us with some homemade Turkish delights (sweets).
When Aydin comes home, the sun has almost set and Erdem and I have already spent one or two hours at his neighbour’s house, helping them with their harvest. We fill sacks with eighty or so kilograms of nuts each. They sell them for just two Euros per kilo, although with the remaining work of cracking them.
We spend the evening in the village with friends of Erdem, visit the mosque and greet the elder men at the tea saloon. The morning after is a near tearful goodbye — the peace and the feeling of family in Acmabasi really made it a paradise.