out, we walk along the main street. The
town is tiny, perhaps 40 houses in all, but it has 15 or 20 shops. Carpets, copper, ceramics, spices, fruit,
groceries, and nuts – all prepared and displayed for the tour boats that dock
here everyday. It may be touristy, but
it makes for a colorful and pleasant stroll.
With the sea on our left, we roll along a trail that wavers up and down a few meters as it skirts a bay that gradually dwindles down to a shallow inlet. We amble footloose for an hour, passing a cool spring that seems to be gushing directly into the sea. Finally, the trail begins to rise across the first peninsula. We cache a bottle of water. Soon, we can look back on the village and the host of cruise ships scattered across the harbor.
Now we enter a wilderness of stones, some rising ten feet from the ground, bright white in the harsh sun. The trail threads its way through and around these monoliths. Off the trail, the space between the stones is filled with thorny brush that makes it nearly impossible to travel. For once, we cannot lose the trail, no matter how hard we try. Remarkably, this unwelcoming ground seems to be pastureland, at least for goats, more common here than on any other part of our trip.
Now the trail alters again. The great stones fall away, and we are
crossing a flat spot that most Americans would call a stony field scattered
with occasional weeds. To us, however,
after a week of Lycian landscapes, it looks the Turkish equivalent of
we arrive at Aperlae. Aperlae was never
more than a modestly important town. But
it took a big hit in 40 A.D., when an earthquake dropped the entire
neighborhood several feet. This was
particularly hard on Aperlae’s seaport. Large parts of the old Roman waterfront
are now under water (and likely to stay so, since
Walking back, it’s clear that Gordon has recovered from our troubles. Instead of the monosyllables in which he spoke during the long, tough hours of past hikes, he is energetic and almost talkative. We stroll back, losing the trail only occasionally, and arriving a good half-hour before dark.