I am an overheated appliance as I step into the swimming pool and allow my body to be submerged in the heavenly, cool water. It’s a long minute before I can feel my body temperature slowly returning to a human level.
We had raced from the beach at the bottom of the valley, to our camp at the top. It was a steep climb in the scorching 40° turkish heat that I thought I had become accustomed to by now. When I come back up for air, I hear the owner of the camp singing out, “Giiirls, diiinner”. We sing back simultaneously, “Coooming”, as though we are young girls away at summer camp. We rush over to where our cosy log cabin is nestled within the trees, making ourselves presentable for the group dinner, as well as taking the necessary precautions against the hordes of mosquitoes we would certainly be facing off with as night fell. We’d learned that lesson the previous night.
We make our way through a curtain of vibrant tapestries, which I’ve spied the women of the camp sewing throughout the day. When we reach the dining area lined with several long tables, the kind that are typical for communal eating, we’re mesmerised by the enormous Mediterranean feast that has been laid out before us. Eastern hospitality never goes amiss here. Looking at each other, our eyes shine in disbelief that this is our life now; swim in the clearest and bluest parts of the Mediterranean Sea, sleep on the sand until our belly buttons fill with a pool of sweat and we’re ready to swim again, hike through the gorgeous greenery of the mountains forming the valley and be fed ridiculously mouth-watering meals. Repeat. As far as rough diamonds go, Kabak Valley has been the truest and realest of gems. We say “afiyet olsun” (enjoy your meal) to our fellow diners, and dig in.
By meal’s end, I am happily patting my full belly. We’ve made new friends, with whom we sit and chat with under the open night’s sky. It’s the kind of open dialogue you can only have with fleeting travel friends – almost uncomfortably intimate and revelatory. I look up and think to myself, ‘I’ve never been so close to the stars’.
Later that night, we sit on the small porch of our cabin, exchanging whispered childhood anecdotes and spotting shooting stars. We huddle together against the now chilly night, neither of us ready to head inside and let all of this dissipate into a memory of the past. We are drunk with a quiet content, giddy with the knowledge that we can never replicate this feeling. And in this moment, we are infinite.