I firmly believe the best way to learn about a destination, its cultures, and traditions is to meet the locals. Sometimes this is easier said than done. I cannot walk up to any random local and start a conversation about their life, without getting the s*** beaten out of me for being nosy. Instead, I have to wait for that moment when I am in the right place at the right time
It also helps if you know someone who is prepared to make the introductions for you so I was very happy when I visited Beypazari because the staff from the local Tourism Promotion Project said they would help me meet the locals. Beypazari is part of a government plan to promote tourism in the region. Along with the main town center, there are 33 villages in the region and I was lucky enough to meet the locals of the town and some of those villages.
The Friendly Locals of Beypazari
Ahmet the Coppersmith ( Bakirci / Kalayci )
Ahmet is the local coppersmith. His shop was very busy so I assume he is in demand because of his excellence at the trade. Families bring their copper plates and pots for him to clean or engrave with intricate designs.
The skills have been handed down through generations of the family but Ahmet’s son is adamant that he will not continue the family business. Ahmet does not mind. He is adamant that nostalgia will not determine his son’s path in life.
Fatma Teyze – The Businesswoman
Fatma Teyze would do well on an episode of the apprentice as her café is one of the busiest in town. Having just secured her brand name, she continues to serve visitors and locals with traditional baklava, gorgeous gozleme and tasty sarma. She is shrewd and clever at business. The last time I saw her, she was supervising her husband on how to grate a big block of cheese. I wonder who wore the pants in that 40-year marriage.
The Local Woman from Kurtkovan Village
When I entered the village of Kurtkovan, the total population was three. The day after, it would become nil. The 3 locals were moving to the city center as the cold weather had arrived. This woman was one of them and she will return in summer when the weather is hotter. For someone who has lived in a small village all her life, her story is so different from mine.
The couple from Dudas Village
I will always remember this couple as they introduced me to the dish known as Aguz. The man is a local farmer and we had dropped him off at his house when we were driving through the village. Upon returning via the same route, he was waiting for us with three spoons and the dish of Aguz. Nothing is better than friendly hospitability from strangers.
The Staff from the Yasayan Museum
The Yasayan museum translates into the living museum. It is based inside an old Beypazari house and gives you a great introduction into how life was during the Ottoman period. One member of staff was adamant that I join his puppet show. I didn’t know what I was doing and felt quite foolish but I enjoyed being a Karagöz puppet which used to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the Ottoman era.
The Shepherd from Boyali
This shepherd was also the Muhtar of Boyali village. A muhtar is nothing to do with political parties but they are classed as the head of the village.
The shepherds name was Muhammad and my first question was why his sheep dog wore a collar with spikes on it. The dog looked intimidating and I assumed it was breed for fighting. I was wrong to make this assumption. The dog turned out to be very friendly and the spikes were to protect him. In the area, there are wolves that kill dogs by mauling at their throats. The spikes actually help to keep the dogs alive.
This man was very sullen and the lack of smiles and replies made me turn around and head for the door. He shouted me back and told me to get my camera ready. Conversation was not his strong point but he certainly enjoyed his photograph being taken.