Earthships and Stolen Pipes

The little house Erdem has rented is in the middle of the village built onto the hillside with stunning views across the valleys and mountains down to the sea. The lower garden at the back is full of chickens while the front is being used for two teenage chicks and a young turkey. The two bedroom house is very simple and cosy with white-painted wooden ceilings and tiled floors. The living room has two comfy sofas, one of which is made from pallets and a foam mattress. It also serves as dining room and has a wood-firing stove. Its simple and chaotic, but clean and cosy.

Erdem has a two month old daughter and so has little time at the moment. So Levent is looking after the house and the chickens and us volunteers. On the way down the hill, the neighbours stopped us. Could we water their garden for the next few days please? The husband had fallen out of a pear tree and had broken his leg. He would need an operation, so his wife would come stay with him at the hospital in Izmir.

We also managed to find out the complete address of the village shop and I text it to my dad, so he could send the cooling fan, which had arrived at his. But it was too late. Since it was Saturday the post had left for today and he wouldn’t be able to send it till Monday.

Levent and his boyfriend Murat showed us the earthship built out of old tires and glass bottles with plastic bottles full of water with bleach for ceiling lights. The others made use of Aidan’s profession and questioned him on how to make the roof more stable, amongst other things.

The earthship is surrounded by a garden full of vines, tomatoes, aubergines, pumpkins, avocado and pear trees. There is a little pond by the side, which we used to water the plants. This had to be done every day since the watering system was not in place yet. The sun was scorching us, so we went back to the house and hid inside till the evening.

In the evening, when it got marginally cooler, we hiked to another piece of land the brothers own. Its down a seemingly endless dirt track, that gets so bad, you can’t drive a car all the way. There are two majestic pine trees, on which Levent is planning to build a tree house and the rest is mostly vines and some fig trees on a steep hillside surrounding a sort of natural platform with a stunning view down the valley.

The water supply had dried up, so we climbed along the steep edge of the vineyard to the well, thinking the water inlet may be blocked. On the way we became increasingly suspicious of the lack of piping. We could only see lose bits, but maybe the actual pipe was hidden under the vines and the bits were leftovers from when it was last fixed.

Reaching the well our fears were confirmed. The pipe had been stolen. So nothing we could fix now and we went back. On the way Mustafa met us on his scooter, shotgun in hand. Levent had called him about the pipe so he had come up to check it out. And he was hunting wild dogs. They had killed four sheep the night before. And the owners couldn’t even eat the meat, as muslims are not allowed to eat meat from any animal killed by another animal, we were told.

On the way along the mountain we saw a pipe along the road, all made up of short bits. Levent thought it looked much like it could be his pipe. It was used to feed the various animal troughs around, used by the shepherds. Mustafa would ask around…

The next day we got up early, to get down to the earthship before the sun got too hot. Levent wanted us to build a soil platform and some steps leading up to it out of old tires so he wouldn’t always almost break his neck trying to carry water for the plants down a steep dirt slope. So we got stuck in, while he watered the plants. He’d brought the little Turkey with, so it could feast on the crickets, but it just sat around in our way. It just loves hanging out! And she didn’t even attempt to eat the giant grasshopper.

The rest of the day was spent in the house, chilling. Aidan and I were really worried we’d get heat stroke again, so we didn’t want to work outside in the afternoon heat.

At some point Mustafa came round. He’d found out that the brother of the guy who sold Erdem and Levent the vineyard with the view had decided that the pipe had not been included in the price. So now, a year later, when his animals were thirsty, he’d come to fetch it!

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