Early Sunday morning, we left Kars and traveled 40 kilometers up into the mountains. Our destination was Boğatepe Village, a unique settlement which is self-sustaining and progressive. The village is diverse, and originated in the early twentieth century when immigrants from Russia, Armenia, and Georgia settled it. The village makes its own cheese, which it sells to local communities. The village also collects local plants and dries them for medicinal purposes.
The village is at a very high altitude, and quite isolated in the mountains:
Upon arriving in the village, we were given a brief tour of its cheese-making facilities:
The chief cheese-maker, Mehmet, explained the process in detail:
I was able to take a video of Mehmet explaining the process. It probably won’t be of much interest to you, because he speaks in Turkish (and then someone translates). But it is still a chance for you to hear what Turkish sounds like:
Next we toured around the village:
The best part of our visit to the village, however, was yet to come. We split into groups of 6 or 7, and each were invited into the house of a different family in the village. We had our Turkish professor Neslihan with us, so she could translate for us. When we went into the house we’d been instructed to visit, it was incredibly warm and inviting:
The family we visited prepared a huge breakfast for us. Every single portion of the breakfast was made completely from scratch by the family, including the butter, cheese, milk, and eggs. It was among the most delicious meals of my entire life, and was by far the most hospitably I’ve ever been treated.
When the woman who lived in the house greeted us, it was as if we were very close members of her family. She kept relentlessly insisting that we eat more, and just kept bringing more and more food. Every other sentence she spoke was that “you must come back soon!” and it was honestly like we were now part of her family. She was showing us photo albums of her family, and calling us all her children.
I thought the fun was over…but really it was just beginning. We had to make it back to our bus very quickly, and it was rather far from where we were. So one of the family members offered us to give us a ride in his tractor. The other brother rode behind the tractor in a horse:
One of the girls with us was wearing very flashy sunglasses, and the man on the horse, for whatever reason, wanted to wear them. In the video below, you will see the exchange:
For some reason, it was ridiculously humorous in the moment. Here is a video of the rest of the ride back:
To be sure, visiting Boğatepe Village was among my best experiences in Turkey so far.