Jan van den Broeke sadly passed away on June 5, 2014. Nevertheless, we want to keep featuring Jan’s story, which he wrote 2 years before his death and which could be read in this column ever since.

At home in two worlds

It’s been around 25 years since we first ended up in Turkey, quite by accident; we never left. After many holidays in various seaside resorts we discovered Anamur, a town more than two hours’ drive east from Alanya. In the three weeks we were there we befriended a number of Turkish people. Those friendships resulted a few years later (in 2001) in the purchase of a beach apartment in a suburb of Anamur.

In October 2005 I was able to take early retirement and since then we have gone there three times a year. Once for a short period in January and twice for a longer time in spring and autumn. Every year we live in Turkey for 4 months.

From Antalya airport it is a 5-hour drive to Anamur, but recently it is also possible to  fly to the new airport in Gazipasa (Alanya airport), though not yet in the winter months. From Gazipasa, a narrow mountain road winds through the Taurus mountains along the Mediterranean Sea with beautiful views, sometimes from an altitude of 500 meters. At the moment that trip takes almost two hours, but when the four-lane motorway with tunnels through the mountains has been completed in a few years it will be much shorter.

Just before Anamur, the mountains recede a few kilometres from the coast and from above you have a view of the town, which is 2 km from the sea and surrounded by the numerous greenhouses full of bananas for which Anamur is known in Turkey. Here, people live off the cultivation of fruit and vegetables. There is no heavy industry, the air is clean, and you can smell the land and the flowers.

What makes Anamur special for us, besides sun and sea, is the relaxed atmosphere that is a mix of the old and the new Turkey, with numerous tiny shops and barbershops, but also modern supermarkets and many new bank buildings (the farmers are doing well!); the streets are always busy. The farmers from the many villages in the area come to do their shopping and sell their wares. Young people are dressed in a modern way, most young women wear make-up without headscarves and their clothing contrasts with that of the people from the mountains.

There is still much to tell about our experiences, our Turkish friends and the small community of Germans, English and Dutch. Friends in the Netherlands always ask what we do there all day because we never lie on the beach.

If you live in Turkey you need a bank account with which electricity, telephone and internet can be paid automatically, as well as a tax number. To pay water and municipal taxes (less than 50 euros a year), we occasionally need to go to the town hall. Everyone has one or more satellite dishes on the roof. We use Canal Digital to receive the Dutch channels.

Our house is one of nine apartments in a building, 150 meters from the beach. We are on the third floor and the top floor with a view of the beach and the sea. Most of these houses are only inhabited in summer. In the summer months the Turkish tourists come to their second home; most are from Ankara, Karaman and Konya. Our neighbourhood has its own boulevard, hotels, two supermarkets, a pier with restaurants and a large park.

Jan van den Broeke, March 2012