Nudes, hippies and angry villagers: on Turkey’s hippy trail in the 1970s, Part 1

Last week, Karen Ormond told us about the process of up and moving to her Fethiye villa in Turkey with her husband, Derek. You can read about it over at Place Overseas. She spoke eloquently about the difficulties of adjusting and what changes their lives have gone through since moving to Fethiye three years ago.

During our conversation, Karen mentioned a trip she’d taken around Turkey’s south coast in the 70s. I asked her if she’d revisit some of the memories from that trip. I wasn’t disappointed.

“Back in the 70s Turkey was part of the ‘hippy trail’; the adventurous of spirit would travel overland from Europe to Asia – India was seen as a final destination. Derek wanted to go to Nepal and seek an audience with the Dalai Lama, but I wasn’t that enthused by the idea, especially as the furthest I’d been from home at the time was Manchester!

As it happens, we caught buses and hitchhiked our way down through Europe, taking about a month. We caught the famous Midnight Express from Uzunkopru to Istanbul, which was a popular hangout for hippies from all over the Western world. We met some very interesting people. Then we caught a series of buses down to the south coast. Without exception, the buses were terribly slow and filled with chickens and the occasional goat. By the time we got to the south coast we were ready for a break from travelling.

 

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Someone in Istanbul had told us about a commune on a farm near Mt Olympos, so we decided to head that way. Nowadays Olympos is full of quite upmarket tree house dwellings but back then there wasn’t much there at all. We asked around and found this commune – it was a few old stone buildings set in an citrus grove, with a path winding down to a really beautiful cove. It was quiet, hot and really gorgeous. The farm was run by an English chap called Ray, who had a  wife and kids in the UK but was taking some time out from his life to find himself, or whatever it was people said back then when didn’t want to live a conventional life!

The people we met there – Americans, English and Germans – were very nice but completely detached from reality. It was very hot and most of them used to wander about naked – much to the chagrin of some of the locals, whose kids used to creep barefoot onto the farm and goggle at the nude hippies picking fruit, feeding chickens, milking goats or churning butter. Every now and again a local would turn up and direct a stream of angry Turkish at the nearest naked hippy, very often Ray, who would listen placidly and then gently steer the local away with a few eggs or some oranges as a peace offering.

We stayed for about two weeks, by which we’d had enough of the nakedness and the bickering. A lot of people think that this kind of lifestyle is peaceful, but believe me, the politics can be very wearing. Derek in particular was fed up. So we left, and slowly made our way along the coast, with the idea that we’d visit a friend of a friend of a friend (yes, another hippy!) in Fethiye.”

Keep an eye out for the next installment in Karen’s adventures.

 

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