early October 2019
From Fethiye I start the gradual climb that leads onto the Anatolian plateau of Turkey (Geography nerd alert). It really wasn’t a big mountain pass but I was struggling today, I made it about ¾ of the way up and stopped at a roadside tea house for a break.
Since I really wasn’t really feeling it today I decided to stop early. This is something I’d learned throughout the trip. You have to work with your body and your moods, if it’s not a good day, it’s not a good day, give yourself a break. Tomorrow will be better.
I asked the woman at the tea house if there was somewhere nearby where I could camp. It often pays to ask locals to point you in the direction of somewhere to camp, especially if you’re not in the mood to hunt out a wild camping spot. She pointed to the ground beside the tea house, as if people camp there every night and it’s completely normal. It seemed strange, but why not.
I made use of the lights in the tea house and stayed up later than usual to catch up on my diary entries. In Turkey, the people that run these roadside tea houses make their money primarily selling Gözleme and tea, so I planned to have dinner there rather than cook what I had. I could see the woman cooking and as I was about to ask for dinner, she invited me over to eat what she had just prepared.
I joined the family for dinner and spent the evening chatting with the help of Google translate. I was so fascinated by the family but you’re never able to get as much detail as you’d really like with the aid of translation apps. The family of four slept in what resembled a wooden cubby-house, accessed by a ladder, a long drop toilet down the hill and a tap. They explained that they work there through the warmer months and close in winter and move elsewhere.
In the morning the school bus passed by and the kids jumped on, still in the same clothes from the day before. This family made a simple living, and just like so many of the people I met along the way. It’s people like this who deserve more from life. Yet despite how tough they may be doing it they welcomed me into their homes and offered me food. I farewelled the family and hit the road.
Progressing slowly towards the so-called ‘lakes district’ of Turkey, it didn’t take long before I realised that I was most definitely coming down with a cold. It was actually the first time I’d gotten sick on the trip, which I was somewhat surprised by as I tend to get ill more often when tired and run down. I certainly had plenty of days where I would have qualified as tired and run down.
I suppose I picked it up when I was staying at the hostel in Fethiye, and it was becoming evident that I could not cycle with the increasing headache and sniffly nose. I had eyed off spending a night or two in Eğirdir, a scenic, and popular lakeside town. At the next main town I decided to jump on a bus and short cut to Eğirdir, where I could rest for a couple of days and kick the cold.
It was unfortunate for the poor souls that had to share the bus with stinky me that afternoon. What would have taken a day or more to cycle was skipped over in a couple of hours with the bus. I made it to Eğirdir before 2 days of rain set in, so it really was perfect timing. Luckily for me my cold never really progressed, and I didn’t get that sick.
When it came time to leave I was chatting with the hostel staff over breakfast and they mentioned an annual market nearby. Nomadic sheepherders from the region would attend the annual market to sell and exchange goods, produce, and importantly, sheep before turning towards their winter season homes. It was almost fate that I was leaving and cycling in the direction of the market so I stopped on my way through.
The market was bustling with locals selling all manner of fruits, nuts, and cheese stored in traditional stomach lining bags. I couldn’t buy too much, but the crowd was interesting to watch.
A foreign couple grabbed my attention, they were visiting from England and insisted I sit down and join them for some food and tell them about my travels. We shared a plate of freshly barbequed lamb/mutton — it literally couldn’t get any fresher. The sheep standing in a pen nearby progressively get slaughtered and served up as the day goes by.
Once fed and well socialised I continued along the beautiful lake road toward Konya. Infamous Konya, the city that everyone, including locals, had told me to avoid.
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