x0x The poetry of Agva Goksu
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x0x The poetry of Agva Goksu
By AKGUN AKOVA
A river that empties into the Black Sea at one end
of Istanbul is a source of inspiration to
The dragonflies have folded their wings and
departed. Likewise the summer crowds that filled
the beach. At the first sign of the autumn sun,
the sea turtles happily climb the trunks of the
dead trees poking out of the water. The trees
along the banks of the Goksu have long since
started singing their autumn song. But the leaves
are still holding out, not turning yellow. For
they know that the river that gives them life will
also nourish their roots in winter. As the Black
Sea prepares for new storms, a hush falls over the
banks of the Goksu, which was born to join it. The
first thing that caught my attention when I went
to Agva was the contrast in the terrain here. On
one side the tempestuous Black Seas foam-spewing
waves; on the other a quietly flowing green river,
And lining the banks of the river wood frame
tourist lodges that compliment the natural
setting. A tiny fishing village years ago, Agva
today is a refuge for Istanbulites looking to
escape the big city.
Those seeking nature all year round alight in
particular at Agva.
Autumn for them is a lyrical tour by paddleboat on
the Goksu amid the falling leaves, a romantic
melody listened to while sipping coffee among the
red-tinged ivy vines, or the appetizing aroma of a
freshly caught fish cooking on the grill. Not to
mention the cottony white breads of Agvas
bakeries! If you happen to catch the Friday
outdoor market, you can buy beans, mushrooms and
eggs and return home with fresh provisions.
A DECEPTIVE SILENCE
Although autumn is associated with rain, the
autumn sun that comes out after a rain creates a
magical light in Agva, bringing out various tones
of brown on the newly cleansed and purified trees.
The sparkling drops are scattered in the air as
the kingfishers flap their colorful wet wings.
If it hasnt been muddied by the downpour, the
surface of the Goksu fills with reflections. The
ripple caused by the touch of the oars reflects
nature in a different way, as if the poetic
silence created in you a sense that the world is
always filled with such tranquility.
The deception actually begins on the road from
Istanbul to Agva.
Bordered by the Goksu on one side and the Yesilcay
on the other, Agva is one of the last points
northeast of Istanbul, situated on the delta where
the two rivers empty into the sea. It even owes
its name to its geographical position. The word
Agva has its roots in Latin where it means place
between two rivers. To go to Agva, take the TEM
(Turkish-European Motorway) on the Asian side of
the Bosphorus and turn off at the Sarigazi-Sile
exit. You wont believe youve left the city until
you reach Sile at 70 km. But everything will
change once you pass the sign for Agva which will
direct you to the right as you enter Sile. The
forest, the countryside and the rural atmosphere
begin here. When you reach the village of
Cayirbasi youll have a decision to make.
Either you will turn left and take the 25-km long
coast road to Agva, or youll turn right and take
the 40-km route through the forest. Both roads are
asphalt. Though longer and winding, I would
recommend the forest road in this season. Besides
the tunnels created by the trees that arch over
the road, the logs stacked up by the charcoal
burners, and the conical piles of wood that look
like African huts, you will also pass children
dying to sell you fresh corn on the cob boiled up
in huge cauldrons. And sometimes your tires will
be rolling not over the asphalt but over the thick
layer of leaves that carpet it.
THE TOURISM OPERATORS LOVE OF NATURE
There are many reasons for staying a night on the
banks of the Goksu.
Among them the accommodations, the tiny boutique
hotels. Most of their owners are people who built
houses in Agva years ago and then were unable to
leave for sheer love of the place.
They have also incorporated their love of nature
into the lodgings they have built, adorning the
banks of the Goksu with many charming accessories
all the way from wooden ducks floating on the
water and enormous pumpkins to bird houses and
model airplanes. A seductive jazz melody or a
Neapolitan song played on the mandolin may reach
your ears at any moment. And if no rain comes to
call at the end of the day when the sun slips
early behind the hills, fires are lit in the
Not just for warmth, but to give guests a chance
to chat, mix, make friends. A chance for Goksus
tranquil spirit to permeate them, a chance to take
refuge in a poem. To prepare perhaps to encounter
Ilhan Berks lines in the morning: The day
brightened. Had we ordered our sage tea? Three of
us were sitting in a corner mending our nets. Some
playing dominoes, some smoking cigarette after
cigarette. It was as if the world had stopped, so
engrossed were we. Just being ourselves.
Morning lifts the Goksus curtain, spreading a thin
fog over the water.
Thats exactly the moment you must get out of bed.
Just when youve begun to miss the warmth of the
thick padded quilt, you open the window and the
scent of damp earth, damp leaves and damp clouds
fills your lungs. Mosey down to the shore and
unfasten one of the boats.
Come on, dont let the rain stop you. Put a whistle
on your lips and heave to! Its not only the rope
of the boat that will be loosed. All the troubles
knotted up inside you, all the petty anxieties,
resentments, disappointments and loneliness youve
been carrying around inside you will disappear in
thin air! Green in good weather, light brown like
a hawser after a rain, the current of the Goksu
will flush them all away. When you return to the
wooden quay, another line of Ilhan Berks will come
back with you from the water and you will murmur
as you head towards the aroma of the freshly baked
bread: I wear everything out, your beauty is all
Thats the banks of the Goksu for you, like a
hidden garden you enter to renew your spirit.