I have never been a fan of walking, instead considering it to be a waste of time when I could go from A to B much quicker using transport. If people listed walking or trekking as their hobbies, I used to scoff, insisting my time would be better spent doing other things. My opinions were to change after I spent an afternoon walking through Efeler Valley
It is called Efeler Vadisi in Turkish and is located high in the mountains of the Macahel region of the Black sea. It is not a tourist region and is as close to the natural face of Turkey as you can get. It is a quiet location, with houses dotted all over the hillsides, sometimes in clusters with neighbours, sometimes remotely. Look beyond the houses and on the horizon are mountain tops covered with snow.
Sturdy wooden bridges, built many years ago, are placed at intervals over the fast flowing river gushing through the valley. In the roof of the bridges are sleighs, used in winter time when the area is covered thick with white snow.
The scenery is lush green with an abundance of pine trees and colourful flowers. But every 1000 meters or so, we would come across something or someone that added an extra surprise to the walk.
The first discovery was a small mescit, a place of prayer much needed in this mountainous region when a devout Muslim might be miles away from his nearest mosque.
Next to, it was drinking fountains, located at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. They were constructed on behalf of Tahsin and Cemal Kahya. I spent a long time wondering who these people were and tried to imagine their lives, spent in this remote valley.
Had they walked the same road I was now on?
Did they know that the drinking fountain was much appreciated, getting rid of my raging thirst on a hot summers day?
A random car stopped, filled with family members from the grand dad to the youngest baby. They knew we were strangers to the area and were checking on our well-being, following it up with an offer to go to their nearby house for refreshments. We politely said no but I instantly realized there are still some great people in this world.
We met another woman who told us she was 89 years old. She was doubled up as she walked, with her hand on her crocked back, blaming it on years of carrying bundles of firewood. We picked fresh raspberries from her garden, perhaps surprising her with my level of excitement because the raspberries were not shop bought.
Efeler valley is undisturbed Turkey. The people are traditional, friendly, and welcoming. The landscape is natural and there are no telltale signs of the fast pace world that we now live in. That is what made my day.
Efeler valley changed my belief. Sometimes, the trusted and handy car is not needed. The best experience can occur when you explore our world on your own two feet.