It's the August of 1996 and we're having a trip to Antalya as a family. I stick my head out of the back window and wonder that if the first year of the elementary school could be as good as the kindergarten.
18 years later, returning from Niğit, where I dropped the Köprüçay 4.3 team. A marshy area with reeds and waterbirds, lies just before the conflux of the river and the sea, protected by a thin strip of land from the waves. I'm the driver of this expedition and the team will just look for sea turtle hatchling prints and fill out the orientation forms. It's August, so our primary focus is hatchling counts.
I check my watch: (4:30 AM)
In the dark, road is treacherous with reeds and pinus brutia leaning into the broken asphalt. It snakes around and gives you a chill because your companion is just the diesel engine purr. Passing through Kumköy and Aşağıkocayatak where the dogs are finally used to the sight of our car, I reach the D400 and turn east.
Belek is a small settlement that has been developing around the multitude of luxury hotels and golf links that hogs the coast. It sits between the town of Kadriye(where lots of hotel staff lodgements are located) and Serik (your cookie-cutter Turkish town). Our camp is situated between Kadriye and Belek. Situated between golf courses, it's a woodland enclave, a reprieve from the heat and noise. I park the vehicle near the "Garden of Tolerance", a serene place where a mosque, a church and a synagouge stand together with a well-maintained garden.
The deafening song of cicadas (or locally known as "August bugs") start at dawn, relentlessly continue throughout the day and makes outdoor chats impossible until the insects go away at dusk to (probably) binge on tree sap and copulate. A proper party.
I unload the spare predator cages from the back. The most dangerous predators here are humans. Neither signs nor cages deter their tendencies to mess with the egg nests. Entering the quiet and dark mess hall I turn on the kettle to make some instant coffee from the supplies we beg and connive from housekeeping people of the hotels around the town.
This organization aims to research the extent of ecological distruption (mainly caused by tourism development)and it's sponsored by the local tourism investment association(whose board actively advises for tourism development). Voices demanding prevention, mitigation and policy changes fell on deaf corporate ears. Marketing people appropriate pictures of the "ecological" works, finance people calculate the tax deduction and the company declares itself oh so eco-friendly.
This camp runs on volunteer work: they cook, clean, gather data, suck up to sponsors when they arrive and accomplish nothing in the end. As in most shitty organizations like army and high school, camaraderie makes it tolerable and sometimes fun. Nevermind the insignificance of what you do, it makes you feel good, feel right.
My phone rings and it catches me dozing off. A team have finished their job and need a lift. Aluminium cup half-filled with warm coffee I leave it on the sink and make my way to the car.