Thursday, 31 July 2008

Pilgrimage from Karagol to Gozeme 25/07/08

Waking with the sun I give myself five minutes to sit and enjoy my surroundings. Magical! :)

Last night by moonlight I thought I could make out a big mountain in the distance. Thinking there was nothing but sea in that direction I thought it was just an illusion but this morning it's definitely a mountain. Then I realize I'm getting my first glimpse of Syria!!! What a feeling, Middle East here I come!

Making a move the 15km walk to Cevlik is wonderful. The only other souls on the road are the occasional fishermen and I'm loving the solitude...

By the time Cevlik comes into sight I'm starving. Praying there is a restaurant in town I work my way down the hill and am amazed at what I find. Cevlik consists of nothing but restaurants and pansiyons! Iskenderun and Arsus probably have a combined population over 100 000 yet Cevlik with a population of 200 appears to have more hotels than both combined! And yet no other facilities, not even an internet cafe! Very strange place :)

With only 9YTL to my name until I find a money exchange I start searching round for a cheap breakfast. The local surf lifesavers call me into a restaurant and I ask if they are serving food...

"Yes, what would you like?"

"Kebab, how much is it?"

"Yes, we have but you have to wait an hour. How about toast?"

"Ok, toast. But how much is it?"


Hmmmmm, a little expensive for toast but better than the other restaurants. "OK"

A guy calls out from the kitchen...

"Sorry, we don't have toast, how about bread and cheese?"

I was really craving something other than bread and cheese and also, there is not much point paying a restaurant for something I can go next door and buy myself. I decide to ask how much it will be anyway...


"OK, sure" The thought of having a couple of cups of tea with breakfast changes my mind. The guys are entertaining and we have a good chat. When I go to pay they must have concluded that I am incredibly poor considering I am walking, camping and asking the price of they don't let me pay :)

The lifesavers head off to start work and with a small swell hitting the beach I can't resist. Plunging into the waves I realize it's been over a year since I was last playing in surf! It's amazing how time disappears, this is one of my favorite things to do on the whole planet and yet I manage to go a year without doing it :(

By the time I get going again it's the middle of the day and stinking hot. Every time I stop for a chat people make motions like I'm crazy, and I would have to agree ;) But it is only 8kms from Cevlik to Samandagi and I want to spend some time on the net.

Dragging myself into town I'm pleased to find a money exchange, then asking for directions at a restaurant one of the young workers leads me down some side streets to an internet cafe.

By the time I get moving again it's 5pm, the plan is to make another 7kms, hitch a ride into Antakya and check out the church of St Pierre. From what everyone has been telling me the last few days "the oldest church in the world!"...

Can't miss this one... ;)

Having a choice between the mountain road and the coast road to Yayladagi the decision is easy...coast road of course! But unfortunately God has other plans for me and doesn't mark the turn off. Before I know it I'm heading straight up! The road is super steep and with rivers of sweat pouring off me almost every car stops to offer me a lift. Once again, being in a position where I can hardly respond is a bit embarrassing...especially when I'm trying to let them know I'll be fine to make it to the top on my own :)

Reaching the summit absolutely exhausted I decide to call it a day, two kilometers short of my thirty but who's counting ;) Straight away a ute stops, I jump in the back lay down and drift off.

The guy was meant to drop me 6kms down the road but must have forgotten about me, by the time I notice I figure it will be easier to go the extra 20kms to his destination and catch a bus from there...

Shit!!! I left my cellphone charging at the internet cafe!

Should I go back today or wait till tomorrow when I have to go back anyway?

It's only 26kms so bugger it, I'll go back. Jumping out I start hitching the other way, slightly discouraged by the lack of traffic. And I can't believe the first two cars have exactly the same response...

"Where are you going?"


"Ooooooo. A long way, but there are no cars going to Samandagi from here. I can take you but how much will you give me?"

"How much do you want?"

"50" says the first car. "100" Replies the second!

Laughing "How about one?" I figure it sounds about as reasonable as their offers :)

"Nooo! It's 40kms" says the first car. "Nooo! It's 50kms" Replies the second!

I know it's only 26kms because there is a sign 500m down the road which says so, and for 50YTL I'm happy to hitch...

Then the locals start to turn up and just like when I was hitching back from Cappadocia a few weeks ago they start to shit me to tears...

"No, no cars going to Samandagi from here. You will have to go through Antakya"

Now, the trip through Antakya will be a total of 90kms so that's not an option, and I want to know why they all think there are no cars going to Samandagi along this road, it's only 26kms away!!!

After one ride on a scooter, two kilometers walking, a lift in a car and fifteen kilometers in a truck I'm starting to think the locals were right ;) It's now completely dark and I still have 7kms to go. I'm just praying the internet cafe will be open by the time I get there!

Feeling discouraged about hitching in the dark I finally get some respite when van pulls up going all the way to Samandagi. Thank God for that!

Arriving in the center of town I look around and realize I have no idea where the internet cafe was, one of the drawbacks of being shown the way. Relocating the restaurant where I asked for directions I'm not happy it's closed...

Looks like I'm on my own!

Slowly, slowly I retrace my steps and after fifteen minutes of searching arrive at the internet cafe. The guy working there is pretty happy to see me and straight away gives my the phone. Champion!!!

"What are you doing tonight? Where are you staying?"

"I have no idea. I was meant to go to Antakya but it's now getting late"

"Yes, no buses to Antakya now. Here have a seat..."

"No, thank you. I better get going. I need to work out what I'm doing"

"Yes, please, take a seat. Here take a seat"

"Sorry, it's already late. I have to go, but thank you very much..."

I really have no idea what I want to do. I don't feel like wondering the streets of this town looking for a hotel, I don't mind the idea of camping but I can't be bothered making my way out of town and there aren't really any more options. I'd love to stay and chat but I really do have to make a decision...

"If you want to wait twenty minutes until I shut you are more than welcome to stay at my house"

Now there's a better option!

"That would be awesome, cheers" :)

Agede finishes up and takes me back to his house. His mother and brother are still up when we arrive and seem to think it's great they have another addition to the household for the night. Turkey is such a wonderful place!!!

Agede cooks up a feed and I go for a shower. Bursts of pain shoot across my back as the hot water hits my skin. I did learn this lesson in Italy but it looks like I needed to learn it again...


Looking in the mirror my back is covered in a rash with little sores where my pack has rubbed too much. Beautiful! ;)

Dinner followed by a few games of backgammon and we are ready for bed...

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