I should mention here that the boat is called ‘Gill’ because someone had made a sign for the house which said ‘Jeremy Ev’ – the very sign meaning ‘Jeremy’s house’ which I had seen when I’d arrived the first day. Because it didn’t say Gill and Jeremy’s house – the boat got Gill’s name as compensation. Despite this, the local children who used to visit to colour in books and play in the garden all used to call Gill ‘Jeremy’ no matter how many times she corrected them.
“My name is Gill”.
“Yes, Jeremy” they would reply happily.
We hung around in Üçagiz for a little while waiting for Cem (pronounced Jem) who eventually turns up about 20past. Jeremy went back in the boat at this point and I was dropped off on the main road as arranged. I’d got slightly the wrong end of the stick in that I thought I was getting a lift up the BIG hill to come – but no, the main road doesn’t reach that bit. Good job I’m refreshed (though maybe a tad lazy after this prolonged go slow and holiday period). My map says 8 miles of climb to Çesmaköy? Bring it on!
So up and up and up slowly I climb – pushing the bicycle. I’m sure I could ride more than I do, but so much of this is mental I think. I saw a sign saying 6% (which isn’t so steep) and 21km – surely that’s more than 8miles?
The scenery is stunning – but doesn’t make for such good photographs as it’s hazy today: steep sided, wooded valleys and mountains towering over - very few houses.
I am not feeling so confident about sleeping anywhere without my tent – but I’m glad I kept my sleeping bag and mat. I stopped for lunch – eating the bread, tomatoes, olives and cheese I’d kept from breakfast. They taste far better after the exercise. Then I lay back amongst the pine needles and snoozed for about an hour (good for the digestion, I’m sure)
Now it’s 4.50pm and I’ve stopped at a café for some ayran – that wonderfully reviving salty yoghurt drink a bit like Lassi – and some çay. I carried on pushing Rowenna and watched the sun set over the valley betrween the line of mountains – and pushed up, and pushed up and pushed up. Several people stopped to ask if I needed help – I’m fine, I’d reassure them. Then a very suntanned guy on a tatty scooter stopped. He had cuts all over his nose and forehead and was wearing a shiny, rumpled silver striped suit. He reeked of alcohol. He offered to help by signalling that he could take my bags on up the hill. No, no I said – but he signed to say he’d be back – then he roared off up the road. He did indeed come back, having shed his load – and offered once again to help me out. When I declined as nicely as I could, he offered me a beer, throwing the plastic bag in the verge – which I then picked up and put in my bag. He didn’t notice, he was so pissed. I asked him how he got the cuts on his face – but he didn’t understand, but he finally shrugged eloquently and gave up on me. He was so busy looking and waving at me as he roared off up the road that his scooter hit the gravel on the verge – it wobbled perilously – how he stayed upright I have no idea – the luck of the drunk I guess. Having regained his balance he looked straight ahead as he should have been doing in the first place and off he went into the sunset (quite literally).
An hour or so later, a very new 4 wheel drive truck pulled up. They asked me, in very basic English, where I thought I was going as there’s nothing on this road for 50km. I could see small villages marked on my map but they insisted, no, nothing. They offered to give me a lift to civilisation (not quite what they said, but I got the gist). I was tired by this time and it was dark, so I agreed. The three of them were lovely – two young guys in the front, and one older guy (about my age) in the back with me and my luggage. Rowenna was strapped in the bed of the truck with two big containers of petrol. It seemed they felt I was now their responsibility to ensure I was safe and looked after for the rest of the evening. I was offered drinks, cigarettes, a meal – and taken all the way to Korkuteli – a good 50miles off my total to Istanbul. In Korkuteli, they bought me a meal – and while I was eating it – they met up with three of their mates. Now there were 6 of them dashing around all over Korkuteli looking for a pensiyon or hotel for me to stay in. I couldn’t believe it when we had no luck and they were all fully booked. One of the local guys, Suleyman (Suli for short), was strongarmed into taking me home to stay with his family. He agreed, so we all drove back to his place – where his wife Nuriye accepted the situation with remarkably good grace. She spent the rest of the evening trying in vain to teach me as much Turkish as she could. (All I can remember is white grapes is something like Bilat Zur). Having assured themselves I was now set up, the other guys all departed waving cheerily. The three original guys were off to Antalya.
Suli and Nuriye’s youngest daughter was fast asleep on the sofa – she was gently lifted up and taken off to bed, so the sofa could be pulled out into a bed. We then all watched belly dancing on telly (after viewing some Turkish soap operas where all the characters were glamorous, beautiful and made up immaculately but acted terribly – and I couldn’t understand a word). Nuriye said the dancing was called ‘Ankara’ – or maybe it was from there, I’m not sure. We communicated with sign language and pointing as Nuriye and Suli couldn’t speak English and my Turkish is non existent after Merhaba and Tesekker Edarim has been exhausted. It was half twelve before everyone retired and I was totally exhausted.