Nomadic Turks preserve lifestyle despite advancing technology

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MERSIN, Turkey

A group of Turkish nomads, among the last representatives of the nomadic lifestyle of Anatolia, continues a historical journey with camels and horses despite technological developments. 

Sarikecili Yoruks, or nomads, spend the winter in southern Mersin province, which has a temperate climate and migrate to central Konya and southern Karaman provinces to pass the hot weather in their cool plateaus. .w3-content { max-width: 100%; margin: auto;} .w3-tooltip, .w3-display-container {position: relative;} .w3-black, .w3-hover-black:hover { color: #fff!important; background-color: #000!important;} .w3-display-left { position: absolute; top: 50%; left: 0%; transform: translate(0%,-50%);-ms-transform: translate(-0%,-50%);} .w3-display-right { position: absolute; top: 50%; right: 0%; transform: translate(0%,-50%);-ms-transform: translate(0%,-50%);} .w3-btn, .w3-button {-webkit-touch-callout: none;-webkit-user-select: none; -khtml-user-select: none;-moz-user-select: none; -ms-user-select: none;user-select: none;} .w3-btn, .w3-button {border: none;display: inline-block;outline: 0;padding: 8px 16px;vertical-align: middle;overflow: hidden;text-decoration: none;color: inherit;background-color: inherit;text-align: center;cursor: pointer;white-space: nowrap;}

Nomads begin summer migration in Mersin for cooler uplands

MERSIN, TURKEY – MAY 04: A drone photo shows an aerial view of nomads with their flock are on their way to cooler uplands to Konya and Karaman districts at spring season in Mersin, Turkey on May 04, 2021. ( Hakan Can Şahin – Anadolu Agency )

Before the journey, which has a history of 1,000 years, the Yoruks get ready by dismantling their tents and preparing food to pack while traveling.

They make cheese from the goats they feed, cook flatbread on their stoves, and load their belongings on camels.

During their journey through the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, the Yoruks control their herds, sometimes with horses and sometimes on foot.

Families who prefer the high-altitude plains to rest during the tough migration set up their tents again and spend the night there.

Earning their bread

Hatice Ucar, 61, is one of the Yoruks who took the road to Konya by collecting her belongings from the forest area in Mersin’s Gulnar district. She leads the camel herd on a horse, while her husband Ali Ucar, 63, carries water tanks with a tractor.

Their 23-year-old daughter Fatma and her 24-year-old husband Mustafa Dilekmen are responsible for the transport and grazing of the goat herd.

“We come across challenges on the road. It is difficult, not easy,” Hatice told Anadolu Agency in a forest area near Karaman province.

“We pass through vineyards and gardens with difficulty. There are seedlings in some places and crops in some places,” she said, adding they are cautious not to harm people’s crops.

Noting that now the camels are used to her, she said: “Once I go before them, they follow me. They come after me thinking that ‘she is taking me to plateau’.”

Migration is difficult, but they earn their bread, she said, adding she is happy despite the hardship.

“I was born, grew up, and lived in such mountains. We haven’t seen any other place,” she said, adding it is getting harder to travel as she gets older.

20-25 days of travel

Fatma Dilekmen said the hard part is the preparation process.

“We will have a migration that will take 20-25 days. In the meantime, we made our preparations in advance in order not to struggle on the road.”

Happy to be a nomad, Dilekmen said they are headed to Konya’s Hadim district and are living the life they were born into despite the advancements of technology.

She said sometimes they take breaks during their travels when there are suitable areas.

*Writing by Sena Guler

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