The bus deposits us in the early morning hours and continues off south into the dust. We take up our packs and search, streets empty save for shopkeeps and a few elderly, for our hotel. The bakery deliveryman directs us the way.
One night and two very long days. We settle, clean and rest.
For lunch, we stop in at a family table. You choose among the dishes available. We ask for menamen. It arrives, with rice, butter beans in tomato sauce, and salad.
We set out for the lake.
It is windswept, wan; sublime in a quiet way.
There is mud, dry grasses. A sort of wet heath. Worth it all for this.
In the summer the lakebed dried up completely, leaving behind vast expanses of white. But this is March, and there is a thin film of water across the plain, mere inches deep in all directions. When the wind subsides, it looks as though the sky has doubled itself to a t.
We work well, setting up shots for both video and stills. The afternoon wears on; the winds come up; the light softens.
We hitchhike back to town. It is the first time for both of us. Dominic hitchhiked his way from New Zealand to Istanbul; his friend has been traveling this way for months. We were keen to try, even if only the couple dozen kilometres back into town.
A man picks us up. He speaks almost no English but his smile suffices. His front seat is piled with russetted apples. He hands two back for us as he drives back to town.
The next day, we hike up beyond town into the foothills.
We notice we’ve made a friend; a boy follows us from town, watching us, following but always at a distance.
It is strange but it seems benign. We think it must be our foreignness, and probably also partly Charlotte’s complexion and hair. It is sort of nice, though, too. Like being watched over.
We find a little overhang cave.
A cave of my own. I invested in some Turkish snackies before our hike. Hazelnuts, walnuts, raisins, and roasted chickpeas.
A delicious combo of nutty, savoury, bitter, fruity, and sweet. Their hazelnuts and chickpeas are especially delicious. And the raisins still have their musky blush; they haven’t been waxed with sugar or oil, just shriveled in the sun. The walnuts are from California.
I venture up the third ridge to the summit ahead of Charlotte. I can see our friend down below, coming up to her. He seems curious and a little intimidated.
What look like some sort of wild mountain crocus.
Charlotte joins me on the ridge. He asked her where she’s from. She invited him to join us. She began to climb; he left. I would have liked to know our friend.
We set up shots on the ridge. Charlotte finds a boulder. We dance.
The palette is all yellows, reds, and greens. The soil shifts in perceptible sections, cycling through the colours. red, yellow, green.
Even the lichens.
Wisps of a tree.
We make our slow way back down around the summit, along an old road that meets up back near our first road up.
The streets back into town are full of temptation.
How I longed to wear this.
I need more than my snackies.
Apples of all sorts. They are as fragrant as if they were being cooked.
I go in to buy one. The shopkeeper waves his hand and refuses money. Then he picks out one for Charlotte too. Further lessons in the instincts of hospitality.
For some reason, we see salons all around town.
Pide – simply described as ‘Turkish Pizza’. They stretch the dough out into long, narrow sheets, line them up in the oven with long peels, and slice them diagonally. We get one with cheese and herbs. It looks like a lot but it’s delicious and we’ve been hiking all day.
The lemon peel is darned good on the pide.
And the hot pepper on the radishes.
Afterwards, we take the plunge and go hang out in the town café. It is full of men, only men, mostly old, and they are playing dominoes. Charlotte and I order tea and a set of brass ones. We make up games with them, build sculptures and play cards.
Our night bus back to Istanbul leaves around one. We arrive around seven. It is raining. We hole up in a bakery with some tea and baklava.
Charlotte talks about how she loves being able to whip out her proverbial black dress from the otherwise grungy backpack aesthetic on cue. I love that too. We show up in our coats and packs, stow them in the cloakroom, and no one would be the wiser.
And a supreme view of the overcast Bosporus.
A perfect last meal together in Turkey before our evening flight to Crete.