Out of Africa
15 June 2013- Pamukkale, Turkey
We are happy and tired. We have just got back to our camp after visiting some amazing ruins and a white wonderland. We have had a great day.
Backtrack and catch up. Well….we finally arrived in Turkey on Tuesday 11 June after 48 hours on the boat. The rest of the trip was uneventful, a good thing! The toilets were truly indescribable but we are off the boat now and hopefully that memory will fade. Anyway we arrived just offshore of Iskenderun around 8 am after our second night on the boat, after sitting outside the port for a few hours made we then docked around mid-day. We then hurriedly sat at around for another three hours waiting for whatever, we didn’t ask, why bother! We did ask about our passports however, which we had not seen since the previous Thursday when we had given them to the agent in Port Said. They had given them to someone at the port so that must be part of what we waited for. Suddenly a guy came with them and trucks started moving, we said a quick bye to the Lithuanian couple and Richard, the British guy, as well as a few Syrian families we had spent the few days with and got off the boat quickly- the trucks were happy to let us go ahead of them. We had customs meet us once we left the boat to check out landy- by far the most through check yet. One guy (who the other guy called ‘my suspicious friend’) who was in plain clothes was really tapping and knocking on things listening for hollow spaces, he was very interested in the sound he heard when he knocked on our ceiling, which is the bottom of our bed and sounds very hollow. We made it very clear we were happy to show them whatever they wanted to see, eager in fact. That might have helped as he sort of stopped looking after that. He even almost found our secret hiding place (which just has some emergency cash, nothing too exciting!). Then we were told we had to leave the port to get our paperwork competed. Of course we couldn’t take landy as she was not stamped in yet so we walked out of the port into town and went to customs where they ummed and ahhhed and stamped our papers. Thankfully we got to the office just before it shut at 5.30, otherwise another night would be spent before we could head off. All sorted. Finally…… we left and were free in Turkey!
What an absolute head spin, straight away from the outset, and our heads are still spinning! Almost no women cover their heads, the roads are excellent, it’s so quiet, so clean, no animals or people on the highways. There is electricity everywhere and running water everywhere (well everywhere we have been anyway). There are street lights, traffic lights- that work AND people appear to stop at them. It’s all very weird!
We just wanted to be on the road again so we drove a few hours, even in the dark- no animals or people. We had our first night in a very basic but fantastic campsite right on the water overlooking two castles and then a spent a few days driving along the coast. It was a beautiful drive at times, passing a million tiny places to stop for tea and food, which we did trying yummy fresh things here and there and the endless cups of tea they serve in small glass beakers. The first night we stopped at a roadside truckstop for a quick bite thinking it may be pretty awful. It was delightful! I realised with a sigh I needed the toilet, we spent the whole time on the ferry trying not to go to the loo. But… I walked into the toilets, this is at a place on the side of the road and I couldn’t believe it- clean with toilet that flushed no ‘water’ on the floor and even somewhere to wash your hands, amazing! I can’t get over the toilets here. As a women going to the loo is not always easy when there are none around or the ones around are a health hazard and you would much rather go on the side of the road which is not always easy with people watching your every move or two hundred Turkish truck drivers as is the case on the ferry. Anyway Olly had some meat and we shared a salad which was served with wonderful tea, fresh bread and was all very fresh and tasty and clean- at a place on the side of the highway. We were blown away. We had tea stops at a few of the tiny places perched up high looking over the Med. We also at times drove past mile and mile of massive soulless hotels full of people on package holidays, could have been anywhere. We were starting to hope where we were headed wasn’t like that! Then we arrived in Kas- a lovely low key town nestled in a small bay. Our camp site was right on the sea and easy walking distance from the town centre and harbour. We have had a lovely few days! Wearing shorts (which we haven’t done for a few months now as it’s not appropriate), using the clean toilets and just generally feeling pleased but also overwhelmed by all the…. all the something. Turkey is definitely not Europe and no doubt if we started the trip here we would notice all the culturally different things but to us its just so… easy. I have a feeling the familiar is going to be more unfamiliar to us than the unfamiliar was at the start of Africa. If that makes sense.
Olly washed landy and we enjoyed a few amazing breakfasts of fresh bread, fresh soft cheese, local honey, jam, fantastic olives, tomato and cucumber in olive oil, a boiled egg and sometimes a bit of salami or something, served with tea of course, yummy. We have taken to it after eating out the first few mornings until we found some supplies and now enjoy it every morning.
Straight away I noticed women with no their heads not covered (unusual in Egypt and unheard of in Sudan) and even short sleeve shirts. I get a lot less stares, men shake my hand and speak to me as much as Olly. Although it only bothered me a few times it’s really noticeable now that it’s not there. Although 99% of the population here is Muslim, Islam is a moderate influence unlike in Egypt and Sudan. This is very noticeable to us, beer is available everywhere so far (illegal in Sudan and unless you are at a resort not easy to find in Egypt and there is an expectation you are discreet).
We spent yesterday out on the sea on a beautiful boat. It was a great day spent motoring along on the impossibly blue water, past ruins of an old city that was destroyed several thousand years ago in an earthquake, the ruins of a castle and old tombs carved into the side of cliffs. We stopped for swims and a wonderful lunch on the boat and after the wind picked up had a rough ride back to the harbour where we had some cake and tea.
This morning Olly went paragliding! He launched off the top of a large hillside that overlooks Kas. I stayed in town and watched him turn and twist and glide down and land right in the marina.
We left late morning today and have come to Pamukkale where we spent the afternoon being amazed by incredible Roman ruins, built around a set of springs. There is even a spring fed crystal clear pool with columns and ruins that you can swim amongst. Just below the ruined city the spring water fans out into hundreds of natural, pure white terraces that cover the slope. It is an amazing sight, pure white, as if you are looking at fresh snow. Calcite precipitating out of the water forms barriers, damming the water into hundreds of little pools.
Tomorrow we are going to Istanbul for a few days. We have been keeping an eye on things and asking around. Although there are still protests and some have turned violent, they have been confined to a single area of the city and the protesters and government are now in talks so things will hopefully be quiet, otherwise we will just head off.
L and O