Our Datça Holiday – The Village of Yazıköy

The Datça Peninsula; wild, windy and just stunningly beautiful. That’s the impression we came back to Fethiye with last Monday after spending the weekend there with friends. It’s 8 years since we were last on this amazing stretch of land that juts out into the Mediterranean/Aegean Sea and, to be honest, while we remembered enjoying its beauty, we had forgotten how truly special it is. We had forgotten that sense of sitting on the edge of the world while battling the winds and being reminded of the power of the ocean as it batters the defending cliffs.

Datça Peninsula Coastline

Datça Peninsula coastline south of Yazıköyü

Last weekend, we were going to the Datça Peninsula to stay with our friend’s parents in her father’s home village of Yazı Köyü, a couple of miles inland from the more well-known coastal area of Palamutbükü. It soon became apparent that this was to be a relaxation weekend in a stone, timber-ceilinged village house, being fed (too much) and watered by our friend’s parents – and yes, we’ve come back a few pounds heavier!

Harvesting Olives In Datça

Whacking olives from the trees – no easy task

Where the forests of the Fethiye region and other Lycian regions of Turkey are covered in pine trees, the Datça Peninsula is covered in olive and almond trees; the olive trees grow in both tended olive groves and also wild on the windswept cliff faces. A Sunday morning pre-breakfast stroll also told us that this time of year is harvesting season. The deserted village seemed deserted because the inhabitants were actually in full action, whacking olives from the trees in groves on the village outskirts. A great spectator sport (participation came a couple of days later).

Datça Olives

Sacks of olives on a tractor trailer

The sun was going down by the time we arrived in Yazıköyü on the Saturday afternoon and we assumed the loaded tractors and lorries we saw were filled with firewood for heating. It was only in the morning that our friend’s dad explained about the olive harvest and our stroll soon confirmed his explanation: tons of olives were stacked in nylon sacks in random places along the road and in fields, weighing down the trailers of lorries and tractors.

Yazıköyü Near Datça

Yazıköyü from the olive grove

We loved our short time in Yazıköyü. It’s a typical Datça Peninsula village, big in Turkey’s olive and almond production and, like other villages in the area, it’s also a village in very obvious transition with an uncertain / interesting future. Our friend told us that, like her, many of her childhood village friends went off to university and they now only visit Yazıköyü in the summer months. But, where many coastal Turkish villages are either slowly becoming abandoned or are being developed and adopted by expats and foreign holidaymakers, Yazıköyü looks to be taking on a different identity.

My childhood neighbourhood in Wigan was one where everyone knew each other and we all walked in and out of each other’s houses without waiting for a ‘Come in.’ This behaviour is in full flow in Yazıköyü and it was lovely to see again. So many people wondered into the house and said “Hoşgeldiniz” (welcome) to us as they plonked themselves on the sofa, had a quick chat, watched a bit of tv and then wandered back from whence they came. Any random person we saw in the street also immediately spotted us for the strangers that we were and shouted hoşgeldiniz.

Yazıköy Camii

Yazıköy camii minaret

But, olive and almond harvesters aside, there’s no denying the village was quiet while we were there. Yet, along each cobbled street, homes are being (very) sympathetically renovated and we saw a couple of young Turkish families cruising around in 4-wheel drives. These are the people who left Yazıköyü to go to university and find jobs in the cities. They’re also city people staying in the village, using it as a retreat.

This little, windy area of the Datça Peninsula (Yazıköyü is surrounded by open sea on three sides) has captured our attention because it feels different. Olive and almond production continues. Whether that is in danger or not, we really don’t know. But, what is encouraging is the return of the new generation. At the moment, this looks as though it’s going to be a seasonal return but it’s nearly 2012: a lot of money is being spent on some of these homes, we have the internet, we have people working from home. Modern technology could well be the saviour of villages like Yazıköyü…

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Comments

  1. It will be interesting to see how life changes in these villages over the next few years. It’s great that technology has already reached them. It must be a pretty area with all the olive and almond trees. Are the olives used for oil?

  2. @ Jenny: Yeah, life is definitely changing in most Turkish villages. It’s a very pretty area. The olives are divided between those for oil and those for eating.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the life in Yazıköyü and seeing the photos. You make me want to go there. What a lovely post.

  4. The Datça Peninsular is lovely and the venue for my first ever holiday to Turkey way back in 1996. You can’t hold back the march of progress but I hope that development will be more sensitive than has been the case on the Bodrum Peninsular.

  5. @ Mark: What a lovely comment. Thanks. You’ve made my weekend! 🙂 Yazıköyü is a beautiful place. We didn’t explore much this visit, but the whole Datça peninsula is beautiful.

    @Jack Scott: Wow, you’retaking us back a bit there, Jack! 😉 Not sure about Datça town itself because we didn’t go this time but the parts we saw are doing well to resist the onslaught. 😉

  6. Looks so lovely and romantic. I am picturing these olive and almond trees.

  7. You are making me wish I had proceeded with my Turkish language studies (yes I studied Turkish for 2 weeks after high school in France) and hop on a bus to go visit all the remote Turkish villages that I still haven’t seen! Soon I hope!

  8. @ Belinda@ Not many idylls left in coastal Turkey but they are there if you know where to find them. 🙂

    @ tasteofbeirut: I’m sure you’d find someone who knows a little bit of english – we actually struggle to find people who DON’T speak English just so we can practise our Turkish. 🙂

  9. absolutely my sort of place – I’m down for a discovery trip next time we go over to Bozburun (one of our winter favorites).

  10. @ Alan: It was perfect. We went to Bozburun last time we were there 8 years ago and loved it. Wonder if it’s still the same? The whole peninsulas seems to be doing a good job of fending off the big boys of tourism and apartment building.

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