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30th Dec – hanging with the mountain folk

January 27, 2011
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The next morning we were greeted by the old rip off merchant from yesterday; he asked if we liked some breakfast and we politely declined. We ate the last of our semolina breakfast, though we had run out of honey so it was putrid (thanks Mike and Jo for that, Semolina really is no good) but it was enough to get us going, back on the bikes, and ready for the climb.

The road immediately took us up and up into the mountains. Harry was struggling with his clips, just like he did on Christmas day, but more due to exhaustion than the inappropriate terrain. We stopped for an orange before piling on.

Our target for the morning was Burhaniye, somewhere we thought would have a shop or something where we may be able to get some food, but seeing as we had no money, what we were really hoping for was a cashpoint. The chances were slim at best, but the hope was there. We arrived and it was not to be our day – not even a shop, barely any people. The plateau on top of the mountain was icy, and the snow that must have fallen the week before was thick and solid.

The road had all but stopped now, it was just a mud track. And it kept on climbing. My tyres are nearly balding already so this was not a good terrain to be in, slipping all over the place, freezing and hungry. We had to stop and ask for some assistance, either with a promise of a shop nearby or the possibility that we can buy some bread. We saw a house that looked occupied and gingerly asked in broken Turkish if we could buy some bread.

We were greeted by Mustafa, a beekeeper with 3 kids. He very calmly and quietly invited us into his house. We sat down and he immediately started up the fire. He had a wonderful temperament, and we discussed using our Turkish phrase book our jobs and where we were going, the road ahead and the weather. Then to our amazement his wife brought in the biggest tray of fresh food you have ever seen, with a huge tub of freshly made flat bread. She had cooked up eggs, a tomato curry, olives, vegetables, and right in the middle was a huge plate of fresh honey. It was amazing. We ate it all. Mustafa then went out and made us a bag to take away with us of more bread, a pot of olives, and a huge dose of his honey for the road. We were so humbled and grateful for his families amazing hospitality. Without Mustafa we may not have made it off the mountain!

We gave him some of our English tea bags to say thank you (though I don’t think he thought much of them) and we carried on our way. The road continued to climb and the weather started to turn. The mud track was becoming a river track. Eventually we started heading down the other side, but the road condition didn’t improve much at all. We had to endure an extremely bumpy descent, the bike grinding and moaning over the pebbles, depressions and uneven surfaces as we skidded down the hill. Normally this kind of condition would be a doddle for these bikes, but i was very wary of the distance still yet to travel, and the thought of a puncture or worse was making me very cautious.

The light was fading rapidly and the drop off the road was quite sheer, as well as the cliff on the other side, meaning nowhere to camp. Eventually we reached the small village of Isakkaye and we made camp in a not so flat field, I think to the permission of the farmer, but he could have been anybody. Either way he didn’t seem to mind, and we had a good nights’ rest after a tough but immensely rewarding day.

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