This is one of those simple stories that research made more interesting and more complicated. Hopefully I’ve gotten most of it correct.
Büyükkonuk February 5, 2012
We had been told by our friends Rob and Julia that Büyükkonuk was a lovely little village with a wonderful Sunday market. With the forecast for warmer temperatures and sunny skies we decided this past Sunday (February 5th) to go see for ourselves. Our friend Sharman joined us but puppy Sophie remained at the marina spending a fun day with Lewis who is her official Grandpa as I am her official aunt.
It was a 40 minute drive through beautiful valleys and along the coast road. But as it turned out, it was not the best Sunday to have made a visit. The village of Büyükkonuk is quite charming with lots of activities and a food and craft market; but not on this first Sunday in February. It was definitely the wrong time of year for a visit to the Olive Mill as the olives are picked and processed in the fall. Activities based on nature can’t be rescheduled so that’s just how it goes. There were no donkeys to pat or goats to milk which does happen all year, just not the Sunday we picked to visit. After driving around the narrow villages streets in search of what really wasn’t happening we parked the car and had some coffee.
Aşevi means restaurant or soup kitchen. Kemeraltı is an historical bazaar in Izmir which Randal and I visited while we were there. Possibly the owners have an Izmir connection. I’ll ask next visit. We drank coffee and ate borek, a small pastry that resembles fried phyllo dough filled with herb flavored feta cheese. And so began what seemed like a marathon eating day!
For hand washing before meals.
This sink says 1952; most restaurants with any Islamic connection have sinks in the eating area for pre-meal hand washing. It was a lovely restaurant with a small sunny breakfast room, a small dining room beyond and roof-top seating as well. We were too early for lunch so just had a snack. Having eaten a snack we then had to go “stroll it off.”
Spying into a window in a house across the road from the restaurant
Just down the main street we met Lois Cemal a Canadian, (who grew up and was educated in India where her parents were Mennonite missionaries,) married to a Cypriot whom she had met when they were both living and working in Australia. She and her husband Ismail are the push behind the effort to make Büyükkonuk a sustainable, local crafts based eco-village with the aim of increasing tourism in the area without spoiling the environment.
www.ecotourismcyprus.com is the website for this project. But if you search the Internet you will find much more information about their participation in worldwide events concerning village sustainability. I’ve listed some at the end of this email.
Lois delivering bread from the stone oven to the market tables.
Bread, which is made daily in a stone oven was just being delivered to the very small market area as we began our stroll through town. Lois promised to save us some loaves and also promised to tell us how she came to be in Büyükkonuk.
Mostly everything was closed because it wasn’t the right season or it wasn’t the right Sunday.
Once Greek Cypriots lived in the village so there is a church which is crumbling to bits.
New fun art and an old olive press share the village square.
The baker at her stone oven.
Woven baskets wait to be loaded with more bread for the market stalls.
The village baker poses for Sharman’s photo.
The bread looks, smells and tastes wonderful Olive bread and herb bread.
Delcraft is the organization run by Lois and Ismail Cemal. Eco Tourism Association
The very small Sunday Market……
Among Sharman, Randal and myself we managed to buy something from everyone!
Crafters working and knitting and Lois delivering the bread.
Weaving the straw basket.
Lois tells her story….
Lois sort of reminded me of someone and I’m thinking it was Julia Child!
Lovely embroidered tablecloths.
With not so much going on in Büyükkonuk, but reluctant to return to the marina on such a lovely day, we decided to drive along to Mehmetçik for lunch…see what I mean about a marathon eating trip as we’d already had coffee and borek and later chunks of fresh baked bread in Büyükkonuk and it wasn’t much past noon!
Passing the same herd of sheep we’d passed on the way into Büyükkonuk!
“Mehmetçik (literally Little Mehmet) is a general term used affectionately to refer soldiers of the Ottoman Army and Turkish Army. It is the Turkish equivalent of “Tommy Atkins” for the British Army, “Doughboy” or G.I. Joe of the United States Army, “Digger” of the Australian Army and the New Zealand Army or Johnny Reb for Confederate soldiers in the American Civil War. Although it is used for especially infantryman (foot soldier), terms such like Piyade Mehmetçik (Infantryman Little Mehmet) and Süvari Mehmetçik (Cavalryman Little Mehmet), Topçu Mehmetçik (Artilleryman Little Mehmet) have rarely been seen.”
When you look up Mehmetçik in my Turkish dictionary it translates to Turkish Tommy which shows the British slant of the meanings and the pronunciation. For example when you look up color it has AE meaning Americanized English and then bks which tells you to see colour the British spelling for the all of the information related to the word colour.
We’ve been to Mehmetçik twice before, both by motorbike. It is apparently famous for its wine festival which we missed by being in the US this past fall. We like Mehmetçik because of the corner restaurant with the good food.
We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather.
My lentil soup with some kind of red pepper oil twirled around.
Randal had fried chicken, Sharman had a chicken wrap (tuvuk doner) and I had my soup. We were given some very dense, sesame cookies for dessert. Sharman summed things up saying she felt like a pudding! That’s the British way of saying you feel really full. Everyone was yawning on the way home. But it had been a lovely day and Büyükkonuk is a place we’ll revisit when our Canadian friend come to visit.
Olive oil, eggplant and walnuts in a preserving liquid, the remaining olive muffin (I’d already eaten one when I thought to take the photo,) and a loaf of wonderful herb bread.
More information about Büyükkonuk and Lois and Ismail Cemal.
88/2 – Eco Village Festival in Büyükkonuk 21.10.2009 written by our friend Heidi Trautmann. She and Kalle actually went to Büyükkonuk on a day when something was happening.
“Leading up to the “UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development”,
the NGO Congress “Global Learning, weltwärts and beyond“ let the voice of civil
society from all over the world be heard. Approximately 175 representatives from civil
societies, coming from 51 countries, were holding discussions on the progress made and
challenges faced in the field of ’Education for Sustainable Development‘: what have been
the achievements of the UN Decade for Sustainable Education in the last five years?
What input have development voluntary services like ’weltwärts‘ made towards
promoting Global Learning?” 27|03 – 29|03|09
FRIENDS OF KARPAZ ASSOCIATION
Global Learning and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
CIBSE Ken Dale Travel Report
Author: Ross French
Our reason for visiting Büyükkonuk is its reputation as Cyprus’ first pilot eco-village, which has benefitted from US, UN and Turkish investment since 2006. Traditional buildings have been renovated, including the Old Olive Mill and a rainwater harvesting scheme at the local mosque is in the planning stages; an 8,000 liter capacity, PVC tank will be used to supply WCs and basins.
“In the tiny village of Büyükkonuk in Northern (Turkish-speaking) Cyprus, we recently got to hang out in a paddock with a shepherd and his sheep, clamber through perfumed bushland to collect wild herbs (thyme, oreganos, sage, myrtle, and fennel), and learn how to make local feta and olive bread with the village baker. In the cozy sandstone home of our hosts, Ismail and Lois Cemal, we warmed ourselves by a pot-bellied stove and ate a delicious dinner of baked rabbit with vegetables, both from their own garden. The couple are the architects of a project that has established eco-tourism in Northern Cyprus and turned little Büyükkonuk into the area’s first eco-village. Driven by a desire not to see Northern Cyprus go the way of the South with its ugly mass tourism development, and disappointed by the readiness with which their compatriots are selling their farms to developers, Lois and Ismail devised a plan. First they turned part of their property into a B&B, providing simple accommodation in a traditional stone house. Next they trained as tour guides and offered a range of activities intended to give people a taste of life in a working village, from donkey treks through the countryside to olive picking ‘tours’ followed by picnics in the groves. After winning a scholarship at the University of Turin to develop the project further, Ismail set about bringing the rest of his community on board. He encouraged his neighbors to rebuild their crumbling stone houses, transforming them into B&Bs, and applied for funds to reconstruct historic town buildings for community use, like the restoration of an old olive press and the creation of a public square, which Ismail is overseeing. The hope is that if the villagers can see how they can make a living carrying on the traditional way of life they have for centuries then they won’t sell out to big business and their village life won’t disappear. A stay at Büyükkonuk is a must if you’re the kind of traveller seeking more authentic experiences and the opportunity to participate in the everyday life of a working village – or if you’ve ever wondered what it is exactly that a shepherd does.” http://backpacker-s.blogspot.com/2008/03/strolling-with-shepherds-and-olive.html
Eco-tourism key to protecting Karpaz
By Agnieszka Rakoczy
Published: October 29 2008 02:00
“On a Saturday afternoon in Büyükkonuk, a small village at the entrance to the remote Karpaz peninsula in north Cyprus, Lois Cemal is teaching three women how to make samsi, a traditional Cypriot almond baklava.
“We don’t only promote eco-tourism, we live it,” says Mrs. Cemal, a Canadian who runs a bed-and-breakfast establishment and a craft shop with her Turkish Cypriot husband. The couple also work to conserve local crafts, from basket making, spinning and weaving to adobe-style brick-making.
Since being selected two years ago for a pilot eco-tourism project in north Cyprus, Büyükkonuk 800 residents have used €1.8m in grants from Turkey, USAID and the United Nations Development Programme to renovate landmark buildings and convert others into restaurants and guesthouses. They have also created several nature trails.
Turkish Cypriot officials say eco-tourism projects are an important way of protecting the Karpaz, an 80km-long peninsula that narrows from a 20km-wide base to a rocky headland marking Cyprus’s north-eastern tip.” http://cquestor.blogspot.com/2008/10/eco-tourism-key-to-protecting-karpaz.html