Distance Hiked: 14km
We awoke in the grassy clearing to the sounds of munching sheep, burping goats, and rocks tumbling beneath hooves. A young shepherd was perched nearby on a rock wall. We broke-down camp while absorbing the bucolic setting, then set out on the trail. Ten minutes in, we arrived at the remote, but impressive guesthouse, Moonestone House. We were optimistic about purchasing food. Preferably a big, delicious, traditional Turkish breakfast to fuel up for the day’s hike.
At gates of the guesthouse we were greeted by a choir of friendly barking dogs. Alerted by the barking, an Iranian volunteer materialized. Disappointingly they were unable to serve us breakfast at 7:30am as they still had to finish the morning chores - feeding the dogs, the chickens, and their 30 cats. The volunteer was very apologetic and insisted he fill all of our water bottles before letting us depart. He said, if we stuck around, we could have breakfast at 8:30 with the other guests.
Not wanting to delay the hike, we decided to snack on the walnuts and dried apricots we’d brought along and returned to the trail. The trail lead uphill where we crossed paths with a goat herder. He gave a wave and shouted “merhaba!” (hello). We laughed at one of his goats standing on his hind legs to eat leaves from a tree. The herding dog eyed us cautiously trying to determine if we were friend or foe.
We continued uphill and soaked up vistas of the Mediterranean Sea. We overlooked several islands and admired this new perspective of the islands we had seen daily during our stay in Kalkan. Someone had really maximized this view point by using it as a camping spot, proof provided by the stone fire-pit.
The weather was slightly cooler today with a welcomed breeze and some cloud coverage. We walked downhill into a meadow followed by the rumbling of goats hooves as they trotted behind us. We passed the shepard again, watching as he retrieving water for his goats from one of the old wells on the trail. We walked through the meadow while checking frequently for trail markers. Learning from yesterday’s mistakes, we were determined not to lose the trail today.
We covered more distance on the trail before being hailed down by a villager. The kindly lady rushed towards us as fast as her knees would allow. We’ve noticed somewhat of a uniform donned by older woman in this region consisting of a patterned head scarf, brightly colored long sleeve shirt, sometimes a knit sweater, and loose fitting floral pants. This woman also had curious red stains on her finger tips and a red circle in her palm. Reaching us, she asked, “cay” (tea)? while beckoning us toward her home with a sweep of her arm. How could we refuse?
We followed her a short distance to her isolated farm house and sat down at the outdoor table piled with Lycian way books, tattered maps, English/Turkish dictionaries and family photo albums. She passed us the photo albums to look through and went to get us some ayran. She came back with two full glasses of the warm, watered-down, salted yogurt drink.
The ayran was made with fresh milk from her cows (or goats?) and topped with an herb. The flavor was sour, the consistency chunky, the portion so generous and the weather so hot, it didn’t quite hit the spot. Communicating with nonverbal gestures, she rubbed her stomach and said “ekmek” (bread) one of the few Turkish words I know! We obliged. She returned ten minutes later with a full meal - fresh cheese, fresh olives, honey, homemade olive oil, a cucumber and tomato salad and an unleveled bread. Her humble home did not appear to have electricity or on an oven. Her husband stopped by and communicated a few words with us via the pocket dictionary. When we asked how much to pay at the end of the meal, she shrugged and indicated that it was up to us.
With full bellies, we left the home. The villager showed back to the trail. We passed through peaceful wild meadows where the silky grass swayed like waves in the breeze. Lizards darted back and forth across stones and grasshoppers leaped out of our path. The dry cracked earth - it doesn’t rain much in the first half of June -was alive with busy ants and active anthills. The trail was empty of hikers. Perhaps we are the only people foolish enough to hike in June!
As the trail merged with the road into the town of Gökçeören we came across some mysterious rocks with hollowed out rooms inside, likely Lycian tombs. The road curved downhill until flattening out as it entered Gökçeören. We were serenaded by the call to prayer as we entered the town. We were expecting a small market or some indication of life in the city, but it was dead. This was problematic as we were banking on purchasing food for dinner later!
Little did we know, we had been spotted by a pension owner. He’d been watching us like a hawk from the second floor window of his guesthouse as we descended the hill into Gökçeören. He strolled down the road and greeted us as we approached. He offered us cay (Turkish tea) and we agreed. In Turkey an offering of cay is a universal symbol of hospitality. Once inside, we were easily persuaded to have lunch, mostly because we weren’t sure where else we’d be able to eat! He told us there was, in fact, no market in town so we bought some bread, vegetables, cheese and olives from him for dinner. Again, when we asked for the bill we were met with the response, “from the heart.” These locals are clever! By tugging at our heart strings we felt obliged to pay more than what was likely reasonable.
We filled up our water bottles from the city tap before returning to the trail. The trail followed the road for a bit and then onto an ill-maintained trail along a stream bed. We decided to continue on the road figuring we’d make better time on the smooth paved surface.
About an hour and a half later we found a clearing and dubbed it the perfect camp spot. We camped near a municipal water tap which meant we could finally wash ourselves from two days’ worth of sweat and sunscreen. Splashing ourselves with the refreshingly cold water was sheer bliss. Scott started a fire in attempt to ward off mosquitos, we shared our meal while a tortoise poked around in the grass, we watched sunset, and called it an early night.