We come to Urunlu for a real village experience where we spend the night en route from Cappadocia to Antalya on our way to the Mediterranean as we have done for the past 20 years. When we first made arrangements with the Topkara family and they invited our groups to stay in their home, the parents Shefika and her husband made all the arrangements and their young children were delighted to have foreigners coming to stay. Among the many Wildland travelers who have reported this home-stay as a standout highlight of their trip to Turkey, I remember the multi-generation Whitmore family told me later when their young grandson arrived to the home, the Topkara's grandson Onur, who was also 10 years old at the time, took his new young American friend by the hand and they disappeared to play in the village as two young boys do anywhere in the world.
Today, on our visit Onur was home from college, Shefika and her husband have passed away, and their sons and daughters-in-law are now heads of the Topkara family village home. I had never met the sons Naim, Nazif and Nail as adults, so when Alper was introducing everyone in the group and he came around to us as the owners of Wildland Adventures, Naim's eyebrow's arose and he exclaimed, "Ah, Patron and Patronessa!" kissing our hands and thanking us for sending such wonderful people to their home all these years. And we thanked them for their generous and warm Turkish hospitality.
We are so grateful when we have the opportunity to develop close personal and working relations with local families throughout the world who invite us into their homes for mutual exchange and sharing, and as an opportunity for them to earn a little extra income. The Topkara's actually live in Antalya where Naim runs a motorcycle repair shop and Nail is a plumber. The brothers kept the old village home built from cedar and stone as a family refuge when the heat on the coast becomes too much. Their wives prepare a delicious home-cooked dinner the night we arrive and a fresh "village breakfast" the next day.
They wouldn't allow us in the kitchen other than to take a peak at what they were preparing, laugh together, and take some pictures. For dinner they prepared Turkish green beans, zucchini in olive oil, rice with pine nuts, stuffed pumpkin flower dolma, grape leave dolma, and baklava for desert. We broke out the case of wine we brought from the Turasan Winery in Cappadocia and had a great night together relaxing on their patio under the grape vines. The next morning they prepared a typical Turkish breakfast with cheeses, olives, fresh bread, homemade jams and local honey with chai and Turkish coffee. The wives taught us how to make gozleme, a typical flat bread delicately rolled out and cooked on a convex skillet over an open fired stuff with local white cheese that we dipped in our favorite tahini-yogurt-grape molasses mix. Hmmm…