We wake to a beautiful dawn. This campsite, which it was too dark to fully appreciate last night, is the best yet. We’re up early, and it looks as though we at last will get off well before the day warms up.
We are still remarkably thirsty, so we brew up more water for hot granola and for endless liters of tea. But something is definitely wrong. The tea, which tasted fine yesterday, now has the same metallic nastiness as last night’s lemonade. I look at the pots we have been boiling the tea in. Small bits of crystal are deposited here and there on the aluminum.
it possible, I think, that the constant heating and shock of cold water has
somehow precipitated aluminum salts?
Suddenly the last word that has me slapping my forehead. “D’oh!” I exclaim. I’m astonished at my own
stupidity. These aren’t aluminum salts,
they are plain old sea salt. This is the
first river we have seen that has actually broken through to the
This explains why we couldn’t quench our thirst. The more we drank, the more salt we consumed, and the thirstier we got.
If I’d thought about it, I’d have realized that the first clue was from the oracle of Apollo. I jeered at the idea that saltwater fish might show up in a fresh-water spring. And of course they didn’t. They showed up in a mixture of salt and fresh water. If I hadn’t been so sure I was right and the oracle story wrong, I might have spotted this earlier.
to do? We certainly can’t keep drinking
After creeping across the hobbit bridge, we start up the trail we descended last night. Again and again, we lose the trail and are forced to guess our way through an area of thorny scrub. Fragile, loose, white stone is everywhere underfoot. The rocks range in size from hens’ eggs to hippopotamus backs. The rock breaks easily. Indeed, in one spot, someone has hollowed out a large boulder into a rectangle the size and shape of a hot tub, though not so deep. Every other step we take is on or off one of these uneven broken rocks. Often the trail is nearly impossible to follow where it is not painted. There is so little dirt that the traditional trail finding clues are often missing. Instead, we rely increasingly on the reddish stains left by the soil when feet (and hooves) carry it onto the white rocks. Time and again, we find the trail simply by stepping from rock to rock, putting our feet on the spots that seem most dirtied by other passers-by.
The trail slabs along a fairly gentle slope, perhaps thirty meters from the sea slapping lightly at broken stone. It is a relief not to be humping up headland after headland. We’re sweating hard, but we can’t ignore the beauty of the landscape.
As the day unfolds, we hike along an old Roman road, stop for lunch and a swim near an ancient Roman lookout tower, and find only one source of water – a cistern whose stagnant water has been growing less appetizing every day since the rainy season ended a few months back. It seems unlikely that we will be able to reach the next town, called Uçağiz, tonight. That means another night of camping. But the prospects that we will be able to find water for our next camp are not good.
We decide to detour to a nearby village and buy water. The village, Kapakli, is on a height overlooking our trail, and there is no obvious trail to it. We stumble through new construction, stone fences, and pits for new greenhouses. When we finally stagger up to the main street, Kapakli is deserted. Three or four mongrels slink sideways along the road away from us. There is not a store or a vehicle to be seen. One woman walks into the middle of the street and stares, apparently wondering whether to run. We turn down another street, hoping to find a grocery street. Nothing. No one.
We return to the main street. The woman’s husband has joined her. I approach him with my best Turkish.
“We go water buy where?”
He doesn’t bother to respond, just gestures to us to follow him home. Instead of selling us water, he serves us glass after glass, then adds a half-liter to the remaining stores in our pack.
The man, Mr. Balei, could not be a better host. He and his wife bring out two kitchen chairs and put them on the concrete patio of their home. After Gordon and I have sat down gratefully, his wife brings out a small box for Mr. Balei to sit on. Apparently, we have occupied the only movable chairs he owns. His wife brings freshly washed grapes, on which we gorge.
Balei must be a fairly prosperous man by the standards of Kapakli. He has a young wife and a small son, several
goats causing a ruckus trouble in a separate building, and a garden. He says, with the air of a man who’s done it,
that the best way to reach the town of
The way into Uçağiz looks like a road in the American southwest, winding past red earth, white rocks, and scrub brush arranged on hillsides whose geology is laid bare to the eye. Up and over a ridge, we begin the plunge down to Uçağiz. Suddenly there are houses on both sides of us and the street is a narrow, one-lane, twisting passage filled with curious observers and a few budding tourist touts trying to get us to park in their driveways.
We spot a pension we heard about on the trail – the Orun Pansiyon. We are met by Jacqueline Orun, a Dutch woman married to the Turkish proprietor. The house faces the main street, but its single central hall leads straight to a patio and dock ending in a picturesque bay. Five or six neighboring piers also wend their way crookedly out into the water. Tourist boats, yachts, and the everyday dinghies are tied up at each pier. Boats come and go, the passengers hopping off and wandering into the reception area of the hotel with the vegetables they intend to sell at market. We shower and sit on the patio, drinking endless bottles of water until it is time to eat and go to bed.