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2/1/11 – Kadirli to Erzin – Mediterraneo

February 4, 2011
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We’ve decided to take what the map denotes as a ‘scenic route’ so todays ride through the national (Milli) park should hopefully be good, we like scenery. Arteries are primed up the first hill, scenic usually means hills. The hills are very reminiscent of the Mediterrenean, scenes we’re all familiar with from trips to Italy and S. France, the resemblence is uncanny even down to the Cypress trees.

Vast patchworks of light sandy yellows, evergreens and olive groves sewn together and laid out before us as we wind our way up and down the minor roads intertwined into the hillside.

Sweat drips from our foreheads as we wind through the national park lined with dense woodland past a dried up lake – Today is hot. The road surface is crunchy and its pleasant to hear the sound from beneath the rubber, so eager to find stability. Back out into the open expanses and we’ve exited the Mediterrranean wormhole, memories and smells of familiar past holidays fade back into the box from which they came. Our attention is drawn to a castle perched high on a hill, Hieraplolis Kastabala. I investigate the ruins briefly – there is a colonade (seems strange outside a castle) laying on the ground and the castle is crumbling and overgrown, cool.

We pass over a giant sluice gate – forced through a small opening the water rages as it emerges from its pen. Groups watch this mesmerising phenomena, imagining what it might be like to jump in. Where the water has calmed fishermen sit patiently, something i think i’ve learnt about fishing this trip is that i dont think most people really care if they catch anything, it’s a good excuse to sit quietly.

Osmaniye is our lunch stop. Sunday means all the kids are out on their electric, petrol or pedal-powered two wheeled transport. Their bikes are adroned with ribbons and decoration and someones been collecting the rice crispies spoke charms…. We sit at the side of the road and watch some cheeky younger children call out ‘Hello’ and then hide behind a wall giggling and deciding on what to call out next. We attract the attention of the local yoots and they all try to practice their English and find out what the hell we’re doing here in Osmaniye. Trying to eat and sandwich whilst maintaining a broken conversation at best is difficult and they get the message and filter away.

Back they slowly come and we get an escort to the edge of the city. Along the main roads i spot some more houses we’ve only been seeing today, they’re quite special – They choose to paint them in vibrant colours using the window frames and architecture of the house to dictate the pattern. Further along the road looking for our turning for Iskenderun we spot a silhouette on top of a hill – looks very similar to Michael Jackson, die hard fans in South Eastern Turkey, perhaps!

We peel off the main road into an orange grove, citrus aromas permeate out senses and our panniers quickly fill with the gold whilst we fill our faces with the freshest oranges we’ve ever had. Taste the sunshine 🙂

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