We started the climb out of Kas at 9.30 am and much to my shock and dismay I was still climbing at 4 pm. I was moving slowly with the weight I was pedaling. A young lad came out of a house and began walking up the hill in front of me. I couldn’t keep up with him and he pulled away from me. For my own sanity I stopped looking when the gap reached 500 m between us. I was coming to terms with the inevitable that there was no way we would reach our destination of Hatay which lay 700 miles ahead.
What had I been thinking?
In total I was cycling a 25 stone load!
Up and over the Turkish mountains!
By 4 pm I couldn’t tell if we would make it over the mountain pass in time before sunset. The clouds were growing dark and a spot of rain fell on my cheek. We were high up the mountain when I passed a shepherd boy carrying wood on his back. I shouted, “Hello” in Turkish to which he called back, “Hello” in English. I emergency braked.
He invited me and Lucy to camp next to his family’s home. Lucy played with the farm dogs whilst I became shepherd girl and helped herd the goats with him. It was a great experience for me.
That evening I was invited to eat dinner with mother Ummu and son Toygar. I sat in the warmth of the family room whilst Ummu cooked dinner on the sober, a wood burning stove common to Turkish households. I noticed Ummu trying to stretch her back and she looked in some pain. I didn’t know how to explain that I was a qualified massage therapist so instead I just flipped her over on the couch and began massaging her. She was so thankful. I taught Toygar how to massage his mother when she returned home from the fields so over time she would not be in such pain.
We enjoyed a dinner of baked potato and onions, eggs, olives, peppers and bread. Food sure tasted better when you could hear the wind but not feel it on your face. I ate with fork in one hand and my Turkish phrase book in the other.
I’m sure no Turkish person will ever understand or comprehend why I reject their hospitality of sleeping inside a warm house in a bed. Instead I insist on sleeping in my tent with Lucy beside me. The late evening conversation ends with a sprint for the door to get out the house and into the tent!
I was pitched next to their cottage, with the mountain top’s gale force wind battering the side of my tent. I have yet to develop the awareness I need on this trip to make things that bit easier. Of course, that’s the well written version of saying I need to become less stupid. If I had pitched my tent on the other side of the house I would have had calm and tranquility. I have never experienced such bitter coldness before. Even that one time in Scotland on a November night when I had climbed a hill having forgotten my tent poles.
I couldn’t even put my jumper on because Lucy was using it as a pillow. I lay freezing all night wishing my tent was on the other side of the house. It was so cold my phone stopped working, this happens when you start hitting – 10 degrees and below. During the night a dog outside tried to walk through the 2 walls of my tent. It wasn’t comprehending that it was never going to make it and I felt awful for shouting it away. If it were up to me I would have all the ‘wannabe warm’ hounds in my tent but Lucy is protective of her house and I knew she would have none of it.
I’ve never been so happy for daylight when I could pack up and get cycling.
Before leaving it was back into the sober room for breakfast which was again baked potatoes, baked onions, eggs, peppers and olives – a perfect combination for the miles ahead. I relaxed enjoying tea and the last warmth before the inevitable freeze that awaited me. I don’t own a hair brush and I began detangling my hair with my fingers. I only do this because I had made a promise to my friend Gemma Neil that I would not under any circumstance grow dreadlocks on this trip. There was that one time many years ago …
Toygar came to my rescue and appeared with his mums hair brush in hand and brushed my hair for me. It was such a special moment. A belly full of good food, the supreme warmth from a wood fire and having my hair brushed. I thanked Gemma Neill in my mind for insisting I promise her.
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Love WBG & Lucy x