One of the last stops of our Kula Geopark tour with Dr. Erdal Gumus, the head of the Kula Geopark, is Cakirca village where you can view the beautiful basalt columns. Erdal Bey also wants to check the new walkway and the ropes alongside the walkway that take you to the basalt columns. We drive to Cakirca Village as part of our Geopark visit. The village is famous for its basalt columns. As Erdal Bey’s old Renault approaches the village, eight kids, ages ranging from 6 to 13, run towards the car. Erdal Bey says: “Here are my kids. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring them cookies and chocolate.” The minute we stop, these nine beautiful kids run to him. “Erdal Abi, Erdal Abi” (means big brother Erdal) they scream. They are so excited to see him.
When he gets out of the car, the kids circle him immediately and keep hugging him. Erdal Bey tells them he misses them since he was on vacation for two weeks.
We get out of the car. Erdal Bey introduces Al and I to the kids. They are adorable. They are bright and alert. There is only one girl among them. And she tries every which way to fit in. She reminds me of myself when I was growing up. I was the only girl member of the neighborhood soccer team.
Erdal Bey and the kids take the newly built walkway towards the basalt columns. Al and I stay behind so I can take pictures of their interaction. The last rays of August sunshine are raining down on this beautiful group. The youngest one, Yasin, is following all of them, busy with figuring out what to do with the stick in his hand. He has a beaming personality. All I want is to hug him tight. He is adorable. They are all playing games and conversing with Erdal Bey on our walk. Once in a while, they stop and pose for me since they already know I am constantly taking their pictures. Yasin keeps asking me to take more pictures of him, and somehow he squeezes himself in front of almost all the pictures I take.
When we are close to the basalt columns, the kids ignore Erdal Bey’s pleas to not climb onto the columns. They climb the columns to show us how great they are in climbing.
As we walk up to the basalt columns, they keep playing and chatting with us. They keep asking me take a picture of them. Especially, Yasin, the youngest one. The girl chooses to go higher than the boys. She wants to prove that she is at least as good, or even better, than the boys. I think she is better than me. I probably would not climb that high.
Their village, Cakirca, lies within a valley. As the sun was setting, somehow, as if the entire chicken colony of the village decides to lay the eggs in unison. The air is filled with “git, git, gidak” (the sound of the chicken while laying eggs- that is how we say it in Turkish) of every chicken in the village. When I tell this to the kids, they all giggle.
We walk towards the new information center being built. A wonderful grandma greets us. She says a few of them are her grandkids. I am sure many of the kids are cousins in this little village. The kids spend the next few minutes posing for me, while I am trying to catch the last view of the beautiful sunset.
We walk back to the car. All the kids climb on Erdal Bey’s old Renault. Erdal Bey is taking selfies with the kids. They all look adorable. I see how much effort was put into this relationship. It is the caring and the loving of the kids that fills the scene. The kids are all talking now in unison. They know that their Erdal Abi is leaving soon.
After hugging each one, we get into the car. Either the car is not really starting or Erdal Bey is faking it, he asks the kids to push the car. All nine of them, proud to be helping their Erdal Abi, push the old Renault down the road. The engine starts and the car speeds up as the kids increase their running speed to catch up with it. The girl stretches out- trying to be in front. The younger ones quit earlier, except the little one, who somehow runs really fast, screaming at the top of his lungs to tell us goodbye.
Erdal Bey says: “It is not the chocolate, it is the personal attention you give the kids that is important.” And, he really likes these kids.