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PART3: Migrations


Only about 15,000 people, scattered over a wide area, inhabit the valleys permanently. A larger number of Hemşinlis live in the diaspora. The emigrating trend started at the end of last century when Hemşin first came out of its isolation
under Russian influence and many people went out to Batumi, Odessa and Moscow mainly to work as pastry cooks.

 Nowadays they own just about every pastryshop worth its salt in Istanbul, Ankara and elsewhere in Turkey, as well as some of the top restaurants in the land. Other native boys include an illustrious line of top bureaucrats and politicians.
Whatever their status and employment, most come back each summer for a few days or months to be spent at the yayla. People talk about a strange, mystical tie that pulls them back to the magic land of their ancestors. It is partly the call of the wild, the feeling of exhilaration-and danger, both physical and spiritual-at the outer edge of civilization; partly, one suspects, an opportunity for people to meet and mate.

ayder yayla ayder plateaux turkey rize hamshen people


Starting in June, entire families, from aged grandparents to screaming infants, make the long, 2-3 day trek to their respective yayla retreats. Some arrive in trucks carrying family and goods-prize bulls, antique standup clocks and baby carriages. Others show up in late model Mercedes which keep getting stuck in the mud. Most walk. Women put on the traditional garb of bright orange silk scarves, black woolen skirts and multicolored mountain socks. They carry babies on their backs and struggle to keep the herds of cattle in line, while men stumble behind-ready to heed the flimsiest excuse for another rakı break. Cafes are located at convenient intervals along the way. They offer old friends not seen in a year, decks of cards and often a few beds upstairs to accomodate the stragglers.

ayder yayla hashen map turkey travel treking


The yayla-a cluster of ancient stone houses, usually above the timberline, sometimes at the very edge of permanent snow-comes to life overnight in a total confusion of knee¬deep mud, fiery bulls fighting to establish this year's bovine hierarchy, the pungent smells of burning pine¬wood and tezek (dried cowdung) and dead-drunk men running high on the
sheer excitement of the yayla. The festival season begins almost immediately, each yayla holding its own vartavar on a different weekend, with that of
Ayder as the crowning event of the year.

PART 1: A Unique Land
PART 2: The People of Hemşin
PART 3: Migrations
PART 4: Çamhhemşin
PART 5:The Main Valley

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