Turkish Pursuits

A 22-year-old recent college grad recounts her hike through Turkey with her 62-year-old father.


Almost done!

Just in case you were wondering, I'm nearly finished with my rough cut of Turkey Trekkers--hurrah!! I've been showing it to test audiences to get a feel for people's reactions. Perhaps my favorite was the elderly gentleman in the back of one such showing who yelled out rather grumpily, "Who in their right mind would want to go to Turkey?". Thank you elderly gentleman, I'll be sure to note that in my final edit.

Here's the preview

Aaaand a promo I did for Gossamer Gear featuring some of the Turkey footage


Ooh dear

The final batch of pictures can be found, once again, at the tried and true http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/

oh my I do feel awfully guilty. I've been utterly negligent in my blogging duties. And really, I have a million excuses that I could putter around with, but as I always say...Excuses are like butts. We all have them and they all stink.

So instead I'll just get right to it.

We're home.

"What? Home?!?" You gasp.

"Yes." I reply.

"But you were having such a whopping good time!" You retort.

And indeed we were. We spent our last night in Turkey in a truly timeless place, as my good friend Adam Baron might say. It was a fish market--but not like any I've been to. The sellers stand in a rectangular bar with the gleaming wares of oceanic delights laid out before them (pardon me, I'm feeling poetic). There were scallops and salmon; squids and lobsters; and pretty much any kind of fish you could think of all staring up at you in that dejected, fish kind of way. It was all quite photogenic so I got to filming right away. The fish sellers were more than willing subjects, and soon they were showing off the finest catches of the day--from thrusting a googly-eyed lobster into the lens to making an enormous sea bass talk by squeezing its' poor little fishy cheeks. As I laughed he implored, "Which is it you like? Me or the fish?" Judging by the fact that his fraternization with the fish had given him the same distinctive odor, I was less than wooed.

The way the whole system worked was that you selected a fish and then brought it to one of the restaurants that circled the little market. There were at least a dozen of these places, so choosing one mainly consisted of finding an open seat. Luckily, by the time I finished yucking it up with the fishermen dad had not only chosen a restaurant but had also selected the fish we were going to eat. I was relieved at that, seeing as I prefer the identity of the meat I consume to remain anonymous.

And so as a band of musicians wound their way through the maze of tables and the fish hawkers shouted out to passersby, dad and I raised our glasses to this beautiful country and the deep understanding brought on by common experience.
And then we jetted off to Greece the next day for a bit of island hopping.

As far as Rhodes goes, dad was in big-old-fortress-wall heaven. He actually spent an entire day ambling about the well preserved walls that encircle the old town. I've figured out that no matter how bad things may be, if I can point to a hillside with a fortress, suddenly every storm cloud in my father's brain is cleared away. They're like daddy Prozac.

Which made the next few days even better for the two of us because fortresses turn out to be a dime a dozen in Greece. We worked out an extremely shady rental deal with the only man in town that would agree to give us a scooter without a license. Everyone scoffed at the stupid non-license-holding Americans, but not him. No, my good man just pushed us out into the street, slapped a couple scraped up helmets on our heads and shouted a "good luck" as he counted out the bills we'd handed him. As we puttered out on our 50cc bike I looked about for the lawn mower I kept hearing, only to realize it was our own motor. Ah, feel the power.

I learned to love that little thing, and over the next few days I would drop dad at various beaches and then take off on back roads to learn the art of scootering. Only one minor accident later, I'm on my way to getting me a Hog. Leather chaps anyone?

We were planning on spending our days motoring about the island, which is kind of what we ended up doing, except for the fact that we spent a good deal of that time holed up in Lindos. Why, you may ask? Because it's a little slice of heaven. That's why. A perfect cove lies below a smattering of sparkling white villas beneath an incredible castle. Winding streets lead to pebbled courtyards draped with bougainvillea and grape vines. Plus, the people are really cool and the night life is bangin. When dad and I got there we were hooked.

We had read in the guide book that though there were no official hotels in town, the locals let out rooms and villas. We wandered into a money changing place to see if they could direct us, and lo and behold the woman working there did have a place...make that a villa...make that the nicest place in town that usually went for 100 euros a night...and she offered to give it to us for 5o euros because the new occupants weren't getting in until the next day. We begrudgingly agreed to take it.

It was one of the most gorgeous places I've ever stayed, from raised Ottoman beds carved by hand to immaculate floors set with circuitous black and white pebbled designs. After an evening of Thai food and wandering the streets filled with bar-hopping revelers we clambered back to our gorgeous abode for a very contented rest.

A couple more days on Rhodes led to a ferry to Kos. I have to admit, despite the fact we were surrounded by beautiful places and people, yours truly was getting a bit grumpy. No longer a bohemian hiker bumming around on nickles a day, the regular-tourist circuit was beginning to chafe. Dad and I had no idea what Greece held, except for a fuzzy knowledge that there were islands and that they were pretty cool. Other than that, we were fairly well ignorant. So Kos became a place of buckling down and figuring out travel strategies. We happened upon a Lonely Planet and began lifting the murky curtain of what each individual island held and how to get there. Reinvigorated, we jumped on yet another scooter and made our way around Kos.

Kos, my friends, is fabulous. If you like cycling or scootering, this is the place to do it. With wide flat roads that roll along for mile after lovely mile, it really is a pleasant escape. Plus the swimming is great. Dad and I got into a 3 dip a day habit, and I've been missing it sorely ever since we got back.

Anyhow, an incredible sunset meal at an out of the way restaurant and a morning swim in the Aegean later, dad and I headed back to the town of Kos to catch our Saturday evening ferry at 8:30pm. We planned to take the monstrous vessel to an island called Syros, spend a couple days there and then on to Mykonos. The ferry was due to drop us off at about 3:30am, and so while dad squeezed beneath some chairs to catch a couple hours of sleep, I wandered the ship to observe the other passengers and feel the sea breezes. Without a watch I was feeling a bit out of it...I had no idea of the time but thought it might be a good idea to just stay awake so we wouldn't miss our stop.

But I didn't. And we did.

Yup, the boat pulled out of Syros just as we stumbled to the door. I had apparently dozed off at just the wrong moment and dad woke up to the bells warning us that we had reached our stop. The workers shrugged their shoulders and told us we would just have to ride the ferry on to the next stop and then backtrack. Exhausted and confused dad and I looked at one another and shrugged. It took us nearly an hour to realize our next stop would be the Athens port.

As we pulled in dad and I were at a bit of a loss. Admittedly, since the seed of discontent had crawled into my brain back in Kos, it hadn't ever really gone away. We were in Athens, the place where we were planning to leave from and thoughts of home clambered loudly in my head. Home. In time for my birthday. Home. And on to the next adventure... it worked its way in and wouldn't come out, and as we walked down the platform I mentioned the prospect to dad. He was less than thrilled. There were still things to see! Places to go! We could still, with a little needling, make our way back to the islands we'd missed! "Yes" I said, "But maybe that's for another trip." And as we stood there on the dock I thought about all his mentions of mom and how much he wanted her to see these places. And I thought about how much I wanted to see those places too...but, harsh as it sounds, not then nor with him. It was not our trip to have together at this time. We had had our adventure and it was incredible. We had bonded and learned more about each other than we ever would have back at home. Our relationship has matured and will never be the same.

But it the adventure done. And I was done. And it was time to head home.

As if to seal the deal, we looked up across the sea of people and cars and there sat a bus for the airport. "Let's go" said dad. "Really?" I asked, "Are you sure?"

He nodded, "I feel like everything else in this trip has been led. Seems like this must be leading us, too." And so with that we took our bags and headed for the bus. No tickets, no idea of when any flights were leaving, but going all the same.

It was 10 am when we walked in the airport. I wandered up to the departure screen and there, lo and behold, was a flight out at 1:25 to New York/Los Angeles. So we walked to the Delta desk, bought tickets (which just so happened to be the cheapest deal of all the airlines) and trundled off to our gate. We were feeling quite smug about the "leading" we had received to get such a convenient flight deal...ah, humility, it does have a way of coming just when you're at the top, doesn't it?

Long story short, JFK was having issues with the flight traffic control. We ended up spending 13 hours in that lovely place, 6 of which were on tarmac and the rest either attempting to rearrange flights or standing like zombies in lines on hard tile floors.

When we finally touched down in LA nobody had any idea we were there, not even my mother. Whether by sheer genius or mere exhaustion, dad and I decided an appropriate denouement would be to figure out how to make our way back to northern San Diego completely through public transportation. Three days without sleeping certainly does isnpire some great ideas.

So with slightly addled brains but a newfound purpose, we stumbled to the airport shuttle bus that took us to the lovely and extremely well preserved LA Union Station. We caught the Surfliner down the coast, and with half concious grins watched the surfers paddling out as we sped through the lovely landscape. At Oceanside we found our way to a bus that stopped at the Wal Mart near Camp Pendlton, a mere four mile walk from home. The nice lady dumped us off and we proceeded to march on to mother and home, heads spinning and eyes slightly crossed. When we finally stumbled in the door at 5pm mom was quite surprised. We were quite numb. But we had done it! We had made it home! There had been only winks of sleep and hours of agony, but we were there! And with that I fell over and snored.


Yachting! Shmoozing! Hamming it up!

Off you go to a more complete pictorial summary of our adventure... http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/

Ahh well nearly 10 days since the last post, and for good reason. Dad and I seem to have fully embraced our lifestyle of bumming about Turkey. After our day apart dad and I reconvened to relate our experiences to one another. Besides my lovely haircut, my day was rather uneventful. Dad, however, took a dolmus (aka tiny city bus) as far as he could east and then wandered along the shoreline to a long string of fancy, all-inclusive hotels. Without so much as a second glance, guards at each of the hotels allowed him to pass through and wander about these places. Had he been a man of lesser morals (or had it been me), he could have had an entire full course meal, sipped beer at the bar and swum in the hotels' ridiculously nice pools. İnstead he spent the next few hours wandering in and out of these places, unquestioned. He attempted to buy lunch at a few of the places with cash, but they wouldn't allow it...I guess that's why they're all inclusive. Ahh...right. When he got back to town to meet me he had a proposition: let's see how many of these places we can sneak into and film to show the contrast of these resorts to the rural Turkish villages and towns we encounter.

Next morning we suited up in our least dirty-backpacker-looking clothing, bought an Adidas bag to hold the camera and jetted off in the city dolmus. It was silly how many of these places we got into. There lay the hotel occupants, burnt and dozing as club music wafted through the speakers. Each of the resorts had themes--the Sherwood Hotel with fiber-glass hewn castle spires; an Asian-inspired one with a dragon slide and of course, the Titanic. Not sure how the entertainment at that one played out...but let's not get into that.

Long story short(er) we found that if you just act miffed with one another and poke around on a cell phone as you enter a place, the guards don't even give you a second glance. But if you smile and say hello they automatically ask for your wrist band. I'll let you come to your own conclusions about that one.

I can only account for my limited experience in these places, but it was quite sad to feel the contrast from Turkish villages to these resorts...perhaps the most exempletive of this contrast (beyond the lack of clothing) was the women rolling dough. The ones we encountered in the country were so full of life, happily talking and laughing as they went about their work. The women at the hotels carried out the same task, but they were placed on wooden platforms that were surrounded by tourists waiting to be served. They didn't talk much, or laugh, or really make eye contact as we all stood about watching them. We started the day excited to do a little undercover investigation, but I left sobered. I understand the appeal of the beautiful hotels, but I wouldn't trade a night there for one in the field.

The next morning we hopped on a bus to Olympus. I had heard about the chimera, the so-called "eternal flame" that rises up from the rocks in the area, and was excited to see it. We happened to meet a couple of guys there that were ending their trıp on the Lycian way--the sister trail to the Way of St. Paul. It was good to meet other hikers and soon stories were spilling out about their adventures all over the world. So now on my to-do list: hike Mt. Fuji during the time that they honor their ancestors. Our new friend Paul, the Colorado-born Scotsman was really the one for that inspiration. We spent the rest of the evening meeting the rest of the eclectic group at our pension and then went up to see the flames, which were really quite impressive. At one point I sat down to watch a thin blue circle of flames peeking out of the rock when suddenly...the eternal flame went out.

Yes I put the eternal flame out. This led to the renaming of said flame to the more accurate: Intermittent Flame of Olympus. Not quite as impressive but definitely more illustrative of the truth.

Luckily dad lit a branch on fire and we were able to resuscitate said flame by poking in the dirt a bit for the gaseous fumes.

Later that night a group from the pension decided to go to the nearby "dancing bar" and I hinted at dad maybe it was time for him to go to bed. When I returned at 3am he seemed oddly keen to catch the earliest dolmus out of town. Apparently a dad can't help being a dad.

So off we rolliked to the ruins of Myra to have a peek at their theatre. Paul had said it was stunning, and it certainly was, but my favorite part was that it provided a chance to meet Alicia. A quiet adventurer from Washington, she has spent the last 8 months living and working in Istanbul and was now doing one final tour around the country before heading back to the states. It just so happened she had signed on to crew a yacht in Finike that would take her out to some pretty little towns along the coast. Within minutes we were on the phone with the captain and working out the details of ensuring our passage on the yacht. All we had to do was act as crew and put in money for food and gas and we were good to go.

So the last few days have been spent with the firecracker Patricia aka Trish who has spent her life racing boats. She was full of fabulous stories about her adventures, from sinking her beloved boat off the coast of New Zealand to saving a sea turtle in the middle of the Pacific. She was really quite a lovely character. Alicia herself has already amassed quite a plethora of experiences around the world, and so dad and I sat back and reveled in the various stories that came out over the next few days.

We spent our mornings swimming and clambering up rocks on the peninsula that encircled the spot where we had anchored. Then we'd throw together a brunch of tomatos, fresh bread and cheese before we motored to a dock to explore ancient ruins. One of the main attractions of the place are the glass bottom boats that pass by underwater ruins littered with the remnants of adobe pots. So we joined a group of Chinese tourists aboard one and began motoring out. It was then I noticed that several of the people had Sony professional cameras as well as several attractive members of the group suited up with mics. Turns out they were filming for a Chinese tv show and we were soon comparing cameras and elbowing eachother for the best spots to film.

As the boat came to a stop in a quiet little bay, the skipper informed us we were being given time for a swim. Never ones to pass up such an opportunity, Alicia and I went to dive off the back of the boat--only to realize the entire film crew had their cameras pointed at us. So somewhat awkwardly we paddled around as cameras flashed and people stared. As we climbed up rocks to jump back into the water we received cheers of encouragment, it was all very strange. As we splashed around I cursed myself for buying the cheapest bathing suit I could find in Antalya, which happened to be an almost neon orange...not exactly complementary of my pasty pale skin.

When we climbed back on the boat and pulled on our clothes, a very attractive man from the group came over and asked if he could interview us for the show. Actually his exact line was: "There were many people in the ocean, but it seemed to belong to the two of you". That definitely was a new one, and seeing as I'm a bit of a ham I quickly agreed for the both of us. Sorry Alicia.

So after a few days yachting about working on our image as Chinese tv stars, we had to return back to Finike so Alicia could continue up the coast and make her flight out of Istanbul. We said our farewells to the that woman's woman, Trish, and took the bus up to Fethiye. I'm currently sitting in our pension, which is mostly inhabited by an Aussie tour group that informed me that the beaches here are nothing to theirs and I should really come check them out. I love how when travelling, we are apt to do so merely to confirm how much better the place is where we're from.

Ooh, dad just stopped by with a helmet! Looks like we're in for a day of scootering about before we get on our ferry tomorrow for Rhodes. Don't know when we're coming back still, but it looks like we'll fly out of Athens at some point. Yeehaw!


Antioch and all that!

As ever...new pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/
Beginning of post...began two days ago...

Well dear friends, it is the 25 of May and...we're here. Antioch. Yup, the epic hike we toiled to plan and enact is, well, over. I feel like I may have missed something. Why aren't we still hiking? My legs are still itching to go, my clothes are still made of breathable light-weight material and I'm still getting confused stares from the locals. Yet the grand purpose and adventure that brought us half way across the world has come to a close. And now we're just regular old tourists again. Poo.

But baby we're going out with a bang.

After spending an evening with a fisherman and his family, chatting with a German expat named Helmut and crossing Lake Eğirdir in a hole-ridden boat, dad and I wandered up from the buggy shoreline to our encampment just outside the town of Eyüpler.

We woke up the next morning to a single, resonating "woof" (and no it was not dad trying to wake up in the morning). I jerked up from my sleeping bag in the middle of a field to find two enormous dogs staring back at me with spiked collars encircling their necks. They were somewhat taken aback by the tousle-haired creature that emerged from the gortex black heap they had encountered (though I doubt, as dogs, that they really considered the material). But after some initial dubious smelling around they appeared to decide that these strange figures were harmless and proceeded to flop down at our feet as we packed up our gear, carefully resting their heads so the spiked collars didn't penetrate their necks.

Soon dad and I were ambling into a little village called Eyüpler the guide book had described as "unfriendly" and whose locals were to be altogether "unhelpful". By the time we'd taken a picture with a man and his donkey, been nearly trampled by about 20 school children, sipped free chai with three generations of farmers and been given free food and supplies at the local market, we were beginning to suspect that this assessment wasn't quite valid. Full of sugary chais and happy as clams we began to wander out of town--only to be met with a parade of tractors and cars filled to bursting with shouting locals in their finery. Apparently the procession was heading off to a wedding--but of course they made time to stop their journey so the strange man in zip-off pants and the girl with the cowboy hat could take pictures.

It was 10:30 am and already we felt as if we'd had the best day ever...but it was just getting started. As we walked out of town we realized we were completely off course from our trail, having been a bit distracted by the events of the morning. So rather than backtracking (which is not a word in Miller vocabulary) we fired up the Global Positioning System (GPS) and began winding our way through backstreets to cut back up to the trail. After a turn we looked up to see a donkey standing at the end of the lane. Seeing as we never pass up an opportunity to take a picture of an ass, we began snapping away when a group of women wandered by. We asked to take their pictures as well, but they waved us off as they hurried on. Thinking this meant they didn't want to bother with the crazy tourists we started to trek on, only to notice they were beckoning us down another side alley. Somewhat confused but always up for an adventure, we followed them to a door that opened up into a backyard. There beneath a metal awning were about eight women busily rolling out dough into wide flat circles and then placing them on a large curve-topped stove. It was the most delicious and lively line-up imaginable. One woman cut and balled the dough then threw it to two different women who used 3-foot-long sticks to roll them out. They then threw it to the next woman who filled it with a mixture of ingredients ranging from cheese to chives to spinach and then folded it to be thrown on the stove. Another set of women shoveled hay and scraps of paper beneath the oven to keep up a fire roaring below. The last woman used her bare hands to flip the bread from side to side. They welcomed us heartily, laughing as they pulled of my cowboy hat and thrust yogurt drinks into our hands. Soon we were chomping happily on these delicious cheese and chive concoctions as they went about their lively work. There were huge bowls of ingredients laying about and it was amazing to see these women fluidly pass from one position to the next, expertly rolling out the dough and stoking the fire as they passed different treats to the strange foreigners gawking on the fringes.

Then, as per usual, dad decided that I needed to get in on the action. He made a rolling motion with his fingers and then pointed to me. Before I knew it I was seated at a portable, circular table that was about six inches high and four feet in diameter with a newspaper spread across my lap and a ball of dough in front of me.

Let me tell you, the whole stick rolling thing is way harder than it looks.

I began making futile pokes at my ball of dough, much to the amusement of the ladies. The one who had initially waved us on in the street seemed to be heading things up so she took me on as her personal project. She bent over me and physically moved my hands in the proper motion (the process of which I botched up completely). As I slaved over my one piece of lumpy dough a slow trickle of women began to come in the door, each somewhat shocked by the freckly foreigner in the midst of their work. Suddenly an even larger group came in and there dad and I were with about 25 women taking cell phone pictures and giving words of encouragement to my meager attempts at rolling out the dough. Two of them were about my age and spoke a few words of English so we were able to communicate a bit--but soon my dough-roller-warden smacked my hand and pointed at the dough. Apparently I had gotten off task, whoops.

Eventually I had to give up my seat and pass the dough rolling to the experts, but as dad and I pulled on our packs they shoved even more of the delicious concoctions into our hands and smiled and waved as we shouted "Güle güle!" (still our only form of goodbye) and turned back onto our trail.

After a beautiful day walking through immaculately maintained farms, we reached our destination of Antioch at sundown. At the outskirts of town we sat down and tried to figure out where to go to find a hotel and a bite to eat. As we hauled guide books and maps from our bags two women passed and dad asked them for directions to a hotel. Though their English was limited and our Turkish is infantile at best, they motioned us to follow them. Once again, we had no idea of where they were leading us nor if they had even understood our question, but seeing as following people about had worked so well before, we took up our packs and followed.

The one woman, dressed in traditional head scarf and a long jacket, was elegant as a queen. She seemed to know everyone in town, all of whom laughed and pointed curiously at her strange charges. With gracious dips of her head she nodded to the people of Yalvaç (the town just below Antioch) and continued to lead us down a maze of streets.

With one final turn she pointed us to a substantial looking hotel on a main street, but insisted that first we come up to her aparment for chai. Soon we were sipping tea and eating a delicious spread of foods with her husband and three darling little girls. A quick phone call brought the English teacher friend over and soon dad was in deep conversation with them as I played with the girls, drawing them pictures and letting them look at the viewfinder as I filmed them. They then put on my hat and glasses and mugged for the camera...and I have to admit they work that cowboy hat quite well.

So even in an urban city, Turkish hospitality is not lost on strangers.

and now...two days later, May 27...

We're back in Antalya plotting our next move. Though the St. Paul trek is over, we're not quite finished with Turkey and the Mediterranean. The process of filming brought up even more ideas for the direction the documentary will take, and it seems several different films could be made from the footage. So currently we are awaiting responses from potential interview subjects as well as mapping out some more adventures to enact in the next couple weeks. Currently we are thinking of hiking up to Mt. Olympus, journeying to the Syrian Antioch (actually located in south-eastern Turkey) as well as ferrying to Cyprus and Rhodes for some exploration and beach time. I'd love to get my scuba diving license and/or sailing lessons, but no decisions have been finalized. If you have any other ideas for cool adventures we could go on, drop us a line! We're game for just about anything.

And with that I'm off to explore Antalya a bit--dad and I have split up for the day to find our own adventures. On my list of things to do: get a haircut. For some reason this is becoming one of my traditions abroad, to varying degrees of success. The mullet I received in Spain was less than stellar, but the pixie cut in Costa Rica was awesome, so wish me luck!!



Yet more pics... http://www.flickr.com/photos/8151765@N03/?saved=1

Hey dudes!!!

We've made it to Lake Elğidir, 3 days ahead of schedule. I'm sitting in the nice warm Lale Pension while outside the wind is blowing like crazy. We've been a bit spoiled--beds to sleep in and showers for two nights in a row! Life is good.

Five days ago we climbed up a fairly intact Roman road to the ancient site of Adada. We had the place all to ourselves and so scrambled about these 2000+ year old ruins totally unimpeded.

...later we ran out of water for a few hours and got a bit snippy...okay we nearly impaled one another with our trekking poles, but managed to restrain ourselves long enough to decide to bypass the marked route and head for the road to do a suicide run into the next town...only to find a spring a few meters off the road. Our moods were instantly improved and no one was seriously injured by said trekking equipment.

Three days ago we hiked up and down mountains, through rain, past an enormous well and ended up zigzagging down a cliff to an orchard grove. At the bottom lay a park with a beautiful marble spring I was more than happy to make use of (dad and I seem to have problems with this whole water thing). As I crossed to the spring I noticed six Turkish girls to my left having a wonderful time. They ran over to say hello and before long we were laughing and attempting to converse in our stilted English-Turkish mix (though mostly English, to be perfectly honest). By the end of an hour they'd brought us a full meal, we'd danced to club music emanating from their cell phones and even reviewed our current relationship stats. We wrapped up the leftovers and were off into the orchards as our six new friends tramped off to their little town. I'm not sure there were more than 25 actual words spoken between us, but the language of girl is fairly universal.

As we wandered on it was getting dark and stormy, but the guide book said that the next town held a campsite just at the outskirts. We pushed on in the blackness, hoping to get good night's sleep before our big trek the next day (12 and half hours straight by the book's estimates and mostly straight uphill). Upon entering the unfriendly looking town we peeked our heads into the supposed campsite and were met with wafts of trash and manure. Lovely. As luck would have it a sign that read 'camping' pointed off left. So with no idea how far said 'camping' would be nor if it would give off any better scents than our first option, we trekked off to a strange gated park that had a covered portion that was evidently a tea shop. So we slept there...and it proceeded to dump down rain. We are blessed.

Two days ago we hiked up a mountain. This may seem somewhat repetitive of our other days, but this thing was what some would call formidible. And vertical. But we are the illustrious Turkey Trekkers and we are not afraid...plus I'd had a pain killer and two sugar-filled chais so I was feeling great!

Our accomplishment was somewhat diminished by the fact that several goat herders were bounding up the rocks like Mario bouncing through a level of Super Mario Bros, but it was quite fun to see their huts scattered about the meadows. As we broached the final pass an incredible wind swept around us that nearly bowled me over. It was all quite dramatic. The approaching storm clouds only heightened the mood. So with the swirling air and threatenting clouds we plodded on to an oasis that the was mentioned in our guide book: the ski lodge. Yes, Turkey has a ski resort and we were heading right for it. Unsure if it would be open, but certain that the weather wasn't looking friendly and that our bodies were wearing down fast we moved on...

Long story short: it was open, we were the only guests, there was red wine at dinner, and it was the sharpest contrast possibe to our last week of trekking. Nothing says comfort like a cow-hide covered head board and marble floors. Yowza.

So this morning we woke up in our cushy warm beds and had yet another meal all to ourselves--only this time we actually saw the cook and some other staff slinking in dark corners, perhaps to catch a glimpse of what a guest looked like. It's always a bad sign when a 164 room hotel has to turn on the hot water for you.

We then wandered up and down some hills, past a military base and some goatherds and then to a very windy descent into Eğirdir! We've been looking forward to this place ever since we first began reading about the trek and it definitely is nice to stay in a hostel and chat with other travellers. Dad's a great hiking partner, but it's always good to mix things up a bit.

So that's it from this side of the world. Gule gule!! (that means go with a smile...and is the only form of goodbye I can manage to remember...so whether you like it or not go with a smile, dangit)



Hello hello!

Day 6 of walking and we are certainly rolling along! Two days ahead of schedule, we've spent the midday shmoozing about Sütcüler. Though our guide book warned us that we may be among the only tourists these towns have ever seen, I don't think anything could have prepared me for the reception we've recieved from the Turkish people. When we walked into town this morning to the town center and sat down for a chai, it seemed every person in the place was staring at these to grubby foreigners. Soon we had cups of chai and ten new friends that came over to shake our hands, one even taking a cell phone picture. Two of them turned out to have lived in the US for twenty years and chatted with us for a while.

Perhaps part of the warm greeting in this particular town could have been enhanced by the fact that I had an enormous rip right up the back of my pants...woops. Hellloooo Turkey!

But really, the reception we've receieved from locals throughout our trek has been unbelievable. We've trekked through some extremely mountainous, rural country where the only access seems to be through rough forest roads. Even while hiking on these apparent main roads, we'll go for hours without seeing a soul. So when we finally do get to a village or goat herders' hut, it seems everyone is ready with a warm "merhaba!", a warm cup of chai and a stilted "conversation" of hand gestures and smiles.

A couple days ago we became horribly lost as we made our way to Ören...mostly due to both my dad and my stubborn refusal to backtrack. We were both certain that if we just kept walking we would find ourselves a shortcut back to the trail...two hours later we discovered we were a mountain range over from where we were supposed to be and two hours after that we finally met back up with the trail...about forty minutes ahead of where we had lost our way.

Luckily we made it to a little town called Ören about 7:30 and met a girl who had been climbing about on the roof of her house (mom will understand why we felt a kindred bond). We were nearly out of food so we asked for bread and she came back not only with a pile of yufka--or local, yeastless bread--but four ripe tomatos. After twelve hours of walking, this seemed absolutely decadent. She then led us down a winding trail to the dısused village school house to camp for the night. We got to share the spot with a mule and the discharges of her cow...as a result the first ten minutes was spent searching for a cow pie free spot to sleep. As we set up camp she was happy to just sit back and watch us. Her father kept calling for her from across the little valley, and finally she had to leave. Soon after we heard the call to prayer from the mosque and realized why her exit had been so rushed.

The children are especially excited to follow us around. When we sit down for a break they hunker down and watch our every move. I give them pieces of chocolate and smile and try to piece words together from our Turkish dictionary to speak with them; but it seems they could care less if I spoke to them at all. They're content just to stare. I feel the same way about them.

They are truly a beautiful people and their smiles are so genuine and warm. They lead a life I barely knew still existed in our world. Tending farms and herds of goats, they grow their own food and wear the same garb their people have worn for centuries. True some of the houses now have satellites and the people cell phones, but a spring still flows at the center of town and they gather wheat from the fields to feed the livestock and make their bread. And despite what they may lack in monetary resources, they are quick to offer what they have to two silly, stinky Americans. And though our ability to converse is almost nonexistent, they sit patiently with us as we eat their food and drink their tea and smile like idiots. Seems I'm learning quite a bit about the meaning of hospitality.

Many more adventures have occurred along the way, including a stop at a Bates-like Motel the other night in Çandir, but that'll have to wait for another time. Dad and İ are hungry and need to get walking. Hope you enjoy the pics!


We're off! We got a bit of a late start this morning (as per usual), but soon we'll be trekking past Perge and into the farmlands and hills of the region. Internet access will be dodgy at best, so the next update will probably not be for at least a few days.

Yesterday was insane...but no time to write now. Love you all and hope all is well!