POV

Too Much Heaven

I don’t speak Turkish, but somehow I can understand what Zeynep is saying. She is talking about love.

Story and Photos by Icarus Blake - Icarus@citizenbrooklyn.com

Edhem Dirvana from Citizen Brooklyn on Vimeo.

It was a morning in 1971. Süleyman Dirvana had started his rounds at Istanbul University Hospital where he was the Director. Süleyman was known to treat everybody with care, regardless of their class or wealth. Aside from being one of the best doctors in the country, he had a reputation for being a benefactor. It was to be a day like many others, until Süleyman noticed a beautiful young lady accompanying a patient. He stopped by and asked if they had been waiting for him, then he looked at the young lady and told her she had a beautiful, luminous face. It was the beginning of an incredible love story. A few months after their first meeting, Süleyman, who was a passionate sailor, invited Zeynep to sail with him in a regatta. She showed up at the dock dressed to the nines and boarded the rough looking boat as if it was the Queen Mary. Soon after they sailed out, they were hit by a big storm. Süleyman was worried about Zeynep and proposed going back ashore, Zeynep refused and insisted they finish the race even though the boat was taking up water. They arrived at dawn the next morning and Zeynep went straight to work shattered and soaked. On that day, Süleyman decided he wanted to marry Zeynep and that is the date inscribed in their wedding rings: June 18th, 1972.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Map Photo © Icarus Blake

Sailing played a big part in their relationship as they would spend many weeks at sea each year. It was during one of their outings that they discovered the bay of Bozburun. They had been looking for land to buy and build a house upon. When Zeynep saw Bozburun, she said the sea was more luminous there, and that was the place where they should build. They bought a beautiful piece of barren land on the coast and slowly began making their dream come true.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun from the Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Each year, on their anniversary, Süleyman would give Zeynep an open check telling her to go buy herself as many diamonds as she wanted. Zeynep, instead, traded diamonds for rocks and bought stones to build the houses. Soon the barren land was transformed into a small village of stone houses running up the hill from the sea.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Zeynep at the time she met Süleyman.

Then, in 1978, their son Edhem was born. Many happy years followed with the three of them spending as much time as they could out at sea and in Bozburun. Edhem became a skilled sailor, much like the father.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Zeynep and Süleyman Dirvana.

Süleyman Dirvana died peacefully in Bozburun in 2010. His body sailed on his boat one last time on the way to the graveyard.

He left behind a tremendous legacy that Zeynep and Edhem were determined to keep alive.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Süleyman and his son Edhem.

What is now called the Bozburun Yacht Club is a very special hotel. If stars are the gauge of quality for hotels, well, Bozburun has thousands of them covering it each night like a blanket of beauty. It is the work of love of an incredible family, and yes, you can feel it in each stone that was traded for with diamonds.

Photo © Icarus Blake

The Dirvana’s Boat.

I sit with Edhem at sunset as he tells me the fairy tale of his life with his parents in a calm, low voice. He must have told it thousands of times, but his eyes still get shiny with tears. He is a great sailor and wants Turkey to participate in the Extreme Sailing Championship. He started a team and they train in Bozburun. He wants Bozburun to be a place where art, sailing and great hospitality all merge into a wonderful experience for his guests. He is building a camp in a remote bay so that people can be in nature away from the distractions of modern life. He is a tall, handsome young man; he could have chosen to have a glamorous life in Istanbul, but Bozburun is where his heart is.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Zeynep Dirvana @ Icarus Blake

Zeynep calls us for dinner. She sits with us and tells us stories in a mellow, musical voice. In the candle lit dining room, her face still glows of its own light much like it did when she met Süleyman. I don’t speak Turkish, but somehow I can understand what Zeynep is saying. She is talking about love.

Photo © Icarus Blake

Edhem Dirvana @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Edhem Sailing @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Edhem Boxing with a Guest @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

The Famous Bozburun Fishing Dogs @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Building the Nature Camp @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

The view from the Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Gulet Builder in Bozburun @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Rowing to Happiness @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

The View from the Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Water @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Fishermen in Bozburun @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Gulet Parking @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Around Bozburun @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Around Bozburun @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Yacht Club @ Icarus Blake

Photo © Icarus Blake

Bozburun Village @ Icarus Blake

7 Responses to “Too Much Heaven”

  1. Sabahat Doganyılmaz says:

    Superrrr

  2. Gaya Holmes says:

    What a place !!!

  3. Erin says:

    It’s peerrrrfffeeecccttt.

  4. Esin menekse says:

    Great combitation of place and people!
    The place has awesome
    energy.
    Miracle of the Dirvana’s is their humanity, their
    beautiful soul.
    When i was there i feel myself with my family at my home.

  5. Rachel Urtiaga says:

    I have had the great pleasure if knowing and being loved by the Dirvana family for many years. Bozburun is magic……. There is no other experience like it. I am grateful for the many memories I will always cherish of my times spent there.

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