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