Friday, 29 March 2013

The Esteemed Elder Brother of Sima Peace

During the 7km walk down to Cirali I passed dozens of roadside ads for hotels and pensiyons (family owned guest houses).

Some looked too expensive - there was one called Hotel Nerissa that was rumoured to take you for everything you've got...


Some were tempting...


But it was this advertising campaign that won me over

We have a winner....

When I finally reached town - 3 streets alongside a vast beach - it quickly became apparent that there are more hotels than guests at this time of year.

Nobody around!

"Sima Peace" is one of the oldest hotels in Cirali and rightly famous for it's unusual and charismatic residents.

The most famous of these is Koko, a 25 year old South African parrot that speaks Turkish, English and German.

"Sind sie verheiratet?" ("Are you married?") Koko will inquire of the unsuspecting - only in German, sadly.
"Jawohl!" replies the hapless tourist
"Armes Schwein!" ("Poor pig!") is Koko's pithy rejoinder. Pure class.


Then there is Voltar - a spry, skeletal, hyperkinetic German alcoholic, well into his seventies, who arrived here as a guest 13 years ago and hasn't got around to leaving yet. Every morning in the breakfast area I am greeted by his sapphire eyes, already half-cut grin, constantly waving arms and tales, songs and more tales...

After the first hour of sitting with him he'd told of discovering sunken galleys and being attacked by an eel off Sardina, heat exhaustion in the Amazon, drunken madness on his brother's cattle ranch north of Sydney and singing a duet with Harry Belafonte in the Caribbean.

Needless to say, he still doesn't know the first thing about me.

Sneaky picture of a camera-shy legend...and Koko

But his best story to date occurred right here in Sima Peace - or, I should say, just a couple of hundred metres away where Sima Peace was situated until last year.

It started with a land dispute between the legal owners of the land (Sima Peace) and an large hotel group with lots of clout with the government. This corporation had set it's avaricious heart on Sima Peace's land and when legal proceedings didn't go the way they wanted they decided to use other means. So, one day last May, cops and soldiers arrived with bulldozers, set up a road block and started demolishing the hotel.

One unfortunate Australian family apparently returned from a relaxing day at the beach to find the roof of their room had been torn off.

The original Sima Peace Hotel

Into this chaos strode Voltar.
He cut through gardens and scaled walls to skirt round the blockade and got to Sima Peace.

He grabbed a large portrait of national hero Attaturk then marched out to face the forces of tyranny.
Holding the photo aloft, he bore down on the line of soldiers, who stood goggling.

In a moment of divine inspiration, Voltar kissed the portrait as he reached them and they parted before him like the Red Sea before Moses.

TV crews were there to capture the moment and he was the star of that evening's TV news broadcasts.

What more can be said - the guy's a nailed-on legend.

When I checked-in I was greeted by a lovely, old golden retriever with a tennis ball in his mouth. After putting my bags down I decided to explore a bit.

The dog came with me - sometimes he went on ahead, sometimes he dropped behind when he found something interesting to sniff. It felt like he was protecting me.

We were headed towards town. At some point I noticed that he had started to cough and sneeze - similar to a cat when it has a hairball. Later, I noticed him eating grass.

I stopped at the local shop and bought some plain biscuits and was surprised when he seemed uninterested in them. At a certain point I couldn't see him anymore, so I continued alone.

When I finally got back to the hotel about an hour later the dog was there lying down in obvious distress.
Just at that moment a car arrived and the lady who owns the hotel got out. I told her the dog looks sick and she flew into a panic.

Voltar, who was also in the car checked over the dog and said it looked like poison - later, he told me that ten dogs in the last month alone had been killed by eating poison and that there was a dog-murderer in Cirali.

We somehow managed to lift the poor dog into the back of the car but he died on the way to the vet.

As you can imagine, I feel absolutely dreadful about all this. I know that it wasn't my fault, but at the same time I also know that if I had chosen a different hotel none of this would have happened.

The owner is still inconsolable - she'd had the dog for 12 years and he'd slept at the foot of her bed every night, along with Koko.

The dog's name was Efe, which means "esteemed elder brother".

The Last Walk


  1. This is so sad. This came to mind