Lets skip the dull bits shall we. Trains, hotels, airports, aeroplanes.
Lets just cut to the chase for once in this oh so drawn out tale.
As we alight from the plane in Dalaman, Turkey, two friendly women await us at the end of the tunnel.
One bears a tray of Turkish Delight, the other a basket of yellow flowers.
‘Welcome to Turkey’ they both gently say as we each claim a piece of sweet delight and Pam is handed her flower.
Who would not feel welcomed after such an entry?
Passing through the passport check is swift and painless, we have purchased visas online which hastens the process.
Our backpacks have also arrived safely, soon we will be carrying them for real once more.
Outside in the car park a circle of short dark haired men hold up signs awaiting passengers. I am going to be a grey haired giant in this land.
As we bounce along in the minivan Pam had arranged online to take us to the delightfully named ‘Montenegro Motel’ I do my best to take photos through the window.
Two story buildings, roofs all bearing multiple double barreled solar hot water systems facing towards the sun.
Turning off the main road our driver disappears into a shop. ‘Water’ he tells us as he leaves the van.
Returning with three bottles of water he gives us each one unasked.
We are loving Turkey so far.
Our friendly driver pauses before Fethiye to let us out for a photo shoot as we pass high above the spectacular coastline.
I have done my usual preparation and have no idea where we are or where we are going, the bus ride is taking an unexpectedly (for me) long time. Pam remains unconcerned as she knows there is quite some distance yet to go.
As we turn and wind our way uphill from a beautiful beach at Oludeniz our driver pauses again to let me take photos without the interceding window.
I have already burned through one battery by this point by keeping the camera on however now we have two spares.
I am good to go photographically speaking. My physical preparedness is another matter entirely.
Steep rocky mountains greet our gaze in all directions. I reiterate ‘Turkey is going to kick our arse’.
Twisting and turning on the by now single lane bitumen road I am none too comfortable with the plunging cliffs racing by to our side. We circle round a cliff sided valley that ends in a short sandy beach far below and pull into a cobblestone brick drive.
We have arrived at the Montenegro Motel.
Pam slips the driver a tip as young children run to meet us. A young man carries her pack up the clean stone pathways and stairs to the wooden veranda of the main building.
Our host Bayram comes to greet us and shows us to our simple room. Our room is small and clean with unstained wooden walls and ceiling. Two beds, one double, one single. We have our own shower and toilet.
I duck my head on entry as the doorway is lower than I am tall.
No rest for the wicked.
Though we are now master and mistress of our destinies once more with neither plan nor prior engagement before early June we still have broad brush goals.
Walking the Lycian Trail being first and foremost amongst them.
Despite my clattering away at the keyboard in Cricklade as fast and as best I could we are still far away from having brought our blog anywhere close to real time.
Pam adamantly announces that she will not be taking a single step on the Lycian Trail until we are up to date. She goes on to tell me ‘that she has brought me to this beautiful place, overlooking the spectacular Butterfly Valley, with not a care in the world, specifically to inspire me’.
We are to have nothing in abeyance as we walk, just the path beneath our feet and the sky overhead.
‘So get to work you lazy B’ she tells me as soon as our packs hit the floor.
Maybe my memory is not quite accurate for I have somehow acquired a host of photos of this stunning area between our arrival and the recommencement of me typing away again.
Montenegro Motel hovers above the stunningly beautiful Butterfly Valley. Pam is keen to climb the marked path down the cliff face to the valley below despite there being a few people killed doing so in the past.
I am much less enthusiastic about this vertiginous descent. We have to endure.
Death does not become us.
I spend the entire next morning typing, we go for a short walk along along one of the optional paths of the Lycian Trail above the cliff in the afternoon.
Have I mentioned ‘Turkey is going to kick our arse’.
Part of this trail is so steep that a knotted rope has been attached to a tree trunk to assist with climbing up. Doing this with a full pack on is going to test us severely.
It is hard to remain pessimistic whilst surrounded by such grandeur.
I write on into the night yet still have much to do. Unsurprisingly our host is fine with us staying longer than we had initially booked.
Montenegro Motel is delightful.
Though I would not compare it’s simple facilities with five star city hotels it revels in the glory of its surrounds.
Bayram, our host, despite his tender age of thirty five, is the headman of the village. Many of his large extended family along with village locals find their way to the veranda between the kitchen and dining hall during the day.
His nephew Hakan is the young man who carried Pam’s backpack to our room. Hakan also acts as a waiter for breakfast and dinner which are included in the accommodation costs.
This brings me to the food, the glorious heavenly food. One of Bayram sister’s in law Elvan does all the food preparation.
Elvan has mighty talents.
Each dinner has four beautifully presented courses, starting with hot soup. A round of salads and small snack type dishes follow. Steaming hot main dishes are a nightly changing delight. By now in our travels I eat spicy green peppers to add to the zest rather than avoid them. A dessert of fruits or chocolate delights seem to alternate between nights.
Meals are served in the dining hall where a fire warms the room morning and evening. In the corner sits a computer that seems to be shared within the community. People come and go checking Facebook, young children play computer games.
Enjoying the warmth beside the fire on our second night Bayram sits and chats with us for a while. We watch him repeat this process with all the guests who arrive during our stay.
He is a wise beyond his years and has bright observant peaceful eyes. Our chat is brief yet beautiful.
‘First thing is to let Kindness fill your heart’ Bayram tells us near the end of our conversation.
‘Having a kind heart allows you to like and respect people regardless of secondary concerns such as religion, skin colour, economics or nationality’ he goes on.
Were there only another three and a half billion other men who shared this sentiment we would live in a very different world.
Back in our room in the evening we bring the little wooden outdoor table and chair inside and place them beside the powerpoint.
The last of the five times daily, beautifully sung prayer sessions emanate from speakers encircling the blue topped mosque tower above us and echo back and forth in the cool dense night air between mighty cliff faces.
Pam mocks my declaration that these each of reverberating sessions sound live rather than recorded and has to eat humble pie a few days later when Bayram confirms my intuition.
I type on into the night as Pam gently ‘lady snores’ in bed beside me.
Our humble blog is my first attempt at prose since leaving high school many, many years ago.
For decades I have had sporadic moments of frenzied verse spill out of me at random unplanned intervals yet this is the first time outside of long past university assignments that I have faced a ‘literary deadline’.
Sometimes years have passed without writing a word.
The ongoing, day to day recollection and recording of our journey falls far outside my comfort zone.
I’m not sure if I am enjoying having Pam hang the ‘Sword of Damocles’ above my head however the sudden profusion of posted entries is attracting ‘views’ and ‘likes’ from all around the globe which spurs me on.
‘Onwards and ever upwards’ ……. all too soon I shall be gasping my battle cry between rasping indrawn breaths.
Next morning we spend organizing the myriad of photos in readiness for blogs to come and then catch a mini bus into the town Fethiye in the afternoon in search of our last few requirements.
Home again in the evening, after taking photos of a glorious sunset, we release more blog entries out into the aether.
Getting close to the end now.
Today, and for once ‘today’ literally means the day on which I write this blog entry, I have sat in the shade of our room’s little veranda typing away. Villagers have come and visited with Bayram on the main veranda.
Pam has left me alone earlier in the afternoon and gone for a long walk by herself.
Running out of charge on the iPad has forced me back into our room where I have sat facing the cliffs of Butterfly Valley and the clear blue sky above through the wide open door, typing for hours.
Pam has just returned sweating, red faced and joyous from her expedition, cursing that she did not take the camera or iphone with her and bearing nightmarish tales of steep trails to come.
Far too few ‘as they happen’ moments such as these have made their way into our humble tale.
Time and space are intersecting once again.
As we fact check and edit these last blogs the sun has sunk beneath the Mediterranean Sea out far beyond the Butterfly Valley beach.
7:00pm Sunday, March 30, 2014 AD local time finds us in room two of the Montenegro Motel above the stupendously beautiful cliffs of Butterfly Valley in the village Faralya, Turkey, Earth, Sol, Milky Way, The Universe.
We are as ‘ready or not’ as we are ever going to be.
Another delicious dinner awaits us in the dining hall.
All being well, tomorrow morning we strike out for real on the 500km Lycian Trail.
Wish us well gentle reader.
Wish us well.
Pam and Mick