Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Lycian Way: Day 4

I'm a little too tired now to write but know if I don't get these thoughts down now then it'll be another week until I have the opportunity and by then my memories of the journey will have already withered and begun to fade. I'm going to limit myself to 500 words. Which is what I say every time I begin to type an entry.

Again the sun shone, we ate a hearty breakfast and set out from the village of Gelemiş to the ruins of Patara, a couple of kilometres down a paved road. Turning right at a majestic old stone gate, we turned left at the first Lycian tombs we'd encountered. With difficulty with found the track through waist high flowering weed which led up through a smattering of houses and until we passed a man who gave us fresh peas. Not since Orlando's last risotto had I eaten them since city Turks seems to prefer theirs pickled in jar. Foul.

The first dog we encountered was vociferous and warned us and our accompanying canines to keep well away from his charge of goats. The next dog we encountered just about made me poop in my already quite filthy shorts. A real live Hound of the Baskervilles, I paled when he showed his fangs and ever so nonchalantly picked up in each hand a stone the size of my head. Which made walking cumbersome. His owner was nonplussed about the entire thing but it wasn't until we were half a mile out away until I unclenched my buttocks. I could still hear his bark as we turned another corner and proceeded down the remains of a poorly kept road that rains had almost completely washed away, thinking abseiling gear might have come in handy.

We delved into the chocolate supply to keep our minds from the growing trickle of sweat running down our backs and passed over into green fields and yet more of the now obligatory but charming olive groves. A retired English couple now living in the district handed us a few pointers before we stopped for lunch. Again we feasted on fresh tomatoes, cucumber, goat's cheese and I hoped that God would provide me with a leaner, more svelte figure upon my return to Istanbul.

Over a few more hills and we began to head down as the track widened and again the sapphire waters of the Mediterranean came into view. The downtrodden looking dog has so far followed us the entire morning's journey - no mean feat considering she was both malnourished and had clearly been abused for most of her short life. I'd forced Damon earlier to gently lob a few stones its way to discourage it, but either this was the greatest adventure she had heretofore known or perhaps, as I would later come to accept, she had simply come to far to make her own was home safely. she was clearly intelligent enough not to want to face the shepherd's vicious canines again on her way back to Gelemiş.

A couple of hours later and our Kalkan, a once sleepy haven now draw card for northern Europeans of a town greeted us on the other side of the bay - the evening's destination was now in sight. and of course, it went began to go iffy.

After mounting and crossing the largest aqueduct I'd yet seen in Turkey, we came to a junction. Then we turned right, and down. Big mistake. After five hundred metres across razor-sharp rocks we had already passed the point of no return but even the dog hadn't been blindly foolish enough to follow.

For the next three and a half hours Damon and I could barely take our minds of the now dangerous terrain to stop and admire the views. One slip would've been a Hellish ticket to hospital, given that some glamorous Turkish rescue team would've been bothered to get the unlucky injured soul out. To be fair, it was foolhardy of us to continue. However, the sun decided to begin its descent and I was saying a large quantity of naughty words under my breath, and maybe some out loud too. I can't remember.

Rocks. In every direction. Rocks that would injure, main and possibly leave gaping wounds that would become infected, septic, and fail to heal. My leg broken two years earlier throbbed. I had a headache. We stopped playing 20 questions because I no longer cared about anyone else who had ever lived or died. It was us against nature with the soundtrack of our now lost dog in the distance.

Except of course, she wasn't lost. After howling for while she simply reappeared, silent. It's moments like this you marvel at the sheer intelligence of animals and wonder why it couldn't actually show us the path outta here rather than just follow us. Surprisingly, I kept my cool. Kalkan disappeared behind a ridge and the shadows passed over our head. Still nothing but rocks.

It was all very stoic, methinks.

Eventually, the combination of a newly bulldozed road, recent building development and a sheer lack of patience brought us to a switchback that climbed back and forth up an incline that would've made an Istanbul taxi driver refuse the fare. I had to stop three times on the way up. Now was probably a good time to give up smoking.

By the time we reached main road into the city our combined remaining energy level wouldn't have had to strength to complete a full English sentence. Beyond exhausted. As we crashed into Kalkan proper we headed downhill (thank you God) and headfist with dog in tow to the cheap and cheerful restaurant full of bronzed tourists and an East London family for whom everything was 'bangin''. Indeed, so it was.

Damon managed to shove in a chicken kebab while I again opted for beans and rice. Those muscles that run from you neck across your shoulders felt like someone was driving a Laguiole mezzaluna with a piercingly sharp blade into them. No pain, no gain an' all that, but to be truthful, I was feeling half dead and certainly smelt that way.

Ömer met us at the first pension we encountered, and had he not had rrom we would have both happily collapsed in the main street. The hot shower in the Gül Pansyıon was as invigorating as it was a fitting finale to the day.

I peeled of the filthiest socks since Edmund Hilary went walking up a hill and hallucinated as I lay down on a bed of cotton candy and drifted into a coma. No need to mention how well I slept.

Worth mentioning, however, is the breakfast we ate the next morning and also how Damon, possessing a slim physique at best, greedily polished off omelette for two (ie me and him) and then packed away half a kilo of the town's best clotted cream, known to Turks as kaymak and to the medical world as an A-grade aorta blocker.

Suddenly, we had energy again. And a full stomach. And the same filthy socks.

The word count is reporting 1187. It lies.

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