Living in a total backwater and being two days drive away from the border that Turkey shares with Syria, Iraq and Iran, not to mention a very long way from Istanbul and Ankara, we’ve always felt somewhat insulated from the ‘real world’. That all changed with the failed coup of July 2016 and the many terror attacks that followed.
Two of the attacks were launched this side of our nearest city, Antalya, making it uncomfortably close to home. We wondered if we should leave. On the night of the coup we stayed up into the early hours, glued to the BBC and occasionally hanging nervously over the terrace to see if we could see or hear anything amiss. Our Turkish neighbours were doing the same – unlike us, they didn’t have the option to leave. It all happened just two days before we departed for our summer holiday in Britain, and we began to wonder if we were going to be crossing the bay to Kastellorizo in a kayak or sailing dinghy to pick up a ferry to Athens instead of catching a Thomas Cook flight from Dalaman to Birmingham.
Things did eventually simmer down, but that night brought into focus the chasm that has divided the country for the last five years. Half of the people here love the administration, the other half loathes them, and there seems little possibility that the two sides will meet in the middle any time soon. After 14 very happy years here, we came to the very difficult conclusion that there may be trouble ahead and that we should probably think about returning to the UK.
A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and we now find ourselves dividing our time roughly 50/50 between our new home in Cornwall and our beloved home here in Kaş. A somewhat uneasy truce has fallen and everyone is getting on with their lives, worrying just as much about the precarious economic situation as the political one. For a number of reasons, we took the decision to surrender our residence status, which means we can now only be here for three months out of every six – that suits us fine, as we’ve not spent the ferociously hot summer season here for years anyway and we are just as happy passing December and January in front of our woodburner in Cornwall as we are in front of the one here.
We’re now here for our second long stint of 2018. We arrived a month ago and it really feels as though we never left. Short shopping trips into Kaş end up taking hours, because everyone wants to stop and chat; our cats – who are fantastically well looked after by our friends who live in our house when we are not here – barely notice that the ‘staff’ has changed again, while amusing us endlessly with their clueless inability to work out the door system; our favourite restaurants miraculously find us a table despite apparently being packed to the gills with visitors; and, most importantly of all, long-established friendships simply pick up where they last left off.
Since we got back, I’ve been trying to pinpoint my favourite things about being in Kaş and narrowing these down to the top six. Here they are, in no particular order:
The view from our house
Whether it’s a pretty pink sunset or an early morning glimpse of the Rhodes ferry, who could tire of that?
Going for a walk in the countryside
Almond blossom and warm sunshine or cedar forest and snowy summits – the month is February, the choice is yours.
Spending a day at the beach
Whether it’s the endless sands at Patara or the bohemian beach cafés at Sülüklü, the welcome is warm and so is the water.
Messing about on the water
Swimming? Check. Sunbathing? Check. Dolphins? Sometimes. Loggerhead turtles? Always. Food? Amazing. Captain Apo? Dab hand at the grill is all I can say.
Going to the market
No pre-packed tiny portions of vegetables here. Yard-long leeks, bunches of parsley the size of bridal bouquets, super-fresh fish, designer shoes and handbags. You definitely won’t find that combination at Sainsbury’s.
Food with a view
From Turkish breakfast to the freshest of seafood platters, everything tastes better with this backdrop.
I can easily think of another six, but those will have to wait for another week. Or you could just visit, and choose your own favourite things, of course.