Nomadic Turks preserve lifestyle defying technology
The Sarıkeçili Yörüks, one of the last remaining nomads leading a unique lifestyle in Anatolia, continue their historical journey with camels and horses despite advancing technology during seasonal changes.
Sarıkeçili Yörüks spend the winter in the southern province of Mersin, which has bearable cool temperatures in the winters, and migrate to the Central Anatolian provinces of Konya and Karaman to escape from hot weather in their cool plateaus.
Before the journey, which has a history of 1,000 years, the Yörüks get ready by dismantling their tents and preparing food to pack while travelling.
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 Yörüks 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.
Hatice Uçar, 61, is one of the Yörüks who took the road to Konya by collecting her belongings from the forest area in Mersin’s Gülnar district. She leads the camel herd on a horse, while her husband Ali Uçar, 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 the state-run Anadolu Agency in a forest area near Karaman.
“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 the plateau’.”
Migration is difficult, she said, but despite the hardship, they’re happy.
“I was born, raised and lived in these mountains. We haven’t seen any other place,” she said, adding that 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.