It all started when we asked Hilal, our pansyion owner, if he could help us arrange a ride to another town for a one-way hike back to Üçağiz. No problem, only 50 Turkish lira (TL). When he ushered us out onto the street, I stared slack-jawed at the little blue sedan. Loading our packs into the trunk and avoiding the rusted holes revealing glimpses of cobblestones below, I crossed my fingers that the packs would be there when we stopped.
The car tilted as the driver plunked into his seat, which leaned back at an angle and rested against my legs. I looked out at the driver’s mirror hanging on by a wire. The rearview was shaking so hard as the engine coughed and spluttered that I couldn’t look at it for long. Fumes wafted through every crack and crevice. The gas gauge read empty. No wait, it wasn’t empty. None of the gauges were working. We chugged slowly up the hill out of town and then sputtered to a halt. Stalled mid-road, our driver calmly turned off the engine, started it again, pumped the gas a few times and we were off. We could walk faster at this point.
Creeping up the hill past the bus parking, it was all looking good – and then we crested the hill. At this point, I had a second to wonder about the brakes before we started flying down around the first corner. Up and down we go, blasting past the big new shiny mosque in Boğazcık before coming to a rolling stop beside the Lycian Way trail – our destination.
The chariot. (Credit: M. Kopp)
Standing trailside, we stared at the trailside marker. There were three route options. The sign didn’t point to any of them. It momentarily threw us for a loop, until a local came out and kindly mimed that the sign was angled slight off kilter.
Full of ankle bending rocks and rubble, roadway crossings, navigational challenges, spectacular and seldom-visited ruins, and close up encounters with all kinds of “wild” life – we wandered along the route for almost five hours through olive groves and abandoned homesteads before reaching Aperlae and the unexpected opportunity to avoid the remaining three-hour trek back to Üçağiz in the heat of the day.
“Wild” life along the hike. (Credit: M.Kopp)
When the price dropped quickly from 80 to 60 TL, we hopped on board. Or would have, if it was our boat. This one – with sunshade and pillowed seats – belonged to another group of hikers. Our boat was on its way.
“Only 40 minutes,” the harbour master muttered under his breath. Forty minutes? Maybe we’ll walk.
“No, no,” he spoke up quickly, “15 minutes.” Now we’re talking.
Forty-five minutes later our one-armed captain jumped spryly off the worn little vessel, deftly avoiding the empty beer bottle just to his right. Not a chance there’s going to be a single life jacket on this puppy. Good thing the wind – and a strong one at that – was blowing at our back.
All aboard! (Credit: M.Kopp)
When our captain left the tiller to skip forward and share a tale about the blood money used to buy yachts like the massive black one pulling into the harbour, I clung to the centre, oddly cross-shaped pole. Sideways in the waves we went – only to be distracted as flying fish soared past.
I was almost sorry the trip was over as our tiny vessel nosed its way between a row of boats to pull up dockside in Üçağiz and the captain killed the motor – by putting two bare wires together.
“Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.”
– Greg Anderson