From the Volkswagen Beetle Camp to the Çambaşı Dam


Once upon a time, a Volkswagen (VW) Beetle Festival would be held in the highlands of Ordu. Beetle drivers had a campsite in the Turnalık-İkidere area of the Çambaşı Plateau. They would set up tents, build campfires, and days and nights would go by in banter and song…

In this place where even total strangers became friends, nobody went without. If you were cold a sweater appeared, if something needed cutting scissors were there, and for every ailment there was surely a medicine

Areas near the campsite were visited on foot, those further away by beetle – enjoying the beauties of nature without any rush.

Animals would remain unperturbed by the campers’ presence, in fact happily accepting their food offerings, but also not missing an opportunity to raid tents they found empty.

Concerts would be held for campers who reveled in the fresh air and clean waters of the highlands for a whole week in July, also attended by residents of surrounding communities. Songs would be sung and dances danced together.

Just like others from Ordu, I would organize my holiday breaks according to the festival dates, both enjoying the camp experience and trying to eternalize it in my frames.

One day, they said: “A dam will be built in İkidere, it will be wonderful, tourists will abound!” People living in surrounding communities were pleased, thinking, “Great, we’ll be able to go from one village to the next by boat, and even fish in the dam.”

Then the next day they said: “The VW Beetle Festival will be held in another part of Turnalık, and the company building the dam will be responsible for setting up the new campsite.” The company did nothing but put up a sign, and the beetle drivers never set foot on Turnalık again.

Time went by and now they said: “Trees are being felled in İkidere.” And: “Construction waste is being dumped on the river bed and in the forest.” And: “Toxic waste is being discharged into the river.”

Petitions, complaints, lawsuits, hearings… Acquittal, nothing but a fine… The fish are dead, the birds are dead, the trees are dead, the grass is dead; nature is dead. I don’t know about the beetle drivers, but a part of me has also died – as the rest of me fights back full of dread.