Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Extremes 12th-14th Dec 2011

The last four days have been two of draining inactivity followed by two with rather too much! Alex's temperature got a lot worse again over night and into the day but with the introduction of ibprofen he got it in hand enough to come down to the hotel's restaurant for dinner. We met an extraordinary charismatic Frenchman that was traveling, on foot through large patches of the world and had been doing so for 18 months. He had a brilliant way abut him that Alex can mimic brilliantly- so you'll have to wait to hear that, but he also INSISTED we try the Turkish pudding Sutlac, on him. It was extraordinarily good- a strange blend of custard and rice pudding. Other than that, the highlight of my day was starting to catch up on my blog and another visit to the cake shop for lunch and the supermarket for various supplies. We both slept a LOT better that night- Alex, more through pill management than good heath, didn't have a temperature and we slept so late I missed breakfast. Alex managed to leave the hotel and we went on a little drive up to the ski slopes- just 5 km away. It has been very frustrating for me that we had had a good dump of snow the day before we got here and fine sunny weather (all be it with a daily high of minus three degrees C) ever since. When we got to the slopes we didn't feel so bad about missing out- while there was a reasonable amount of lifts and pistes, only two of the lifts were running which limited things considerably. There was also a weird system of 30TL per day for each individual lift or 5TL per trip, (10TL=£3.50). Alex did offer that I could ski all afternoon, he wasn't up to it, but it get dark by 15.45 and by the time we'd lunched and I had got changed there wouldn't be much time left. I kept Alex out for lunch but then he crashed for the rest of the day. Sucked in by his lethargy and repelled by the challengingly icy streets I hung about the hotel room too playing computer games and reading. We looked at the maps and confirmed what we had feared- we were running low on time- if he was well enough we needed to move on the next day- no time was left to ski here and we'll have to have some long driving days over the next month in order to create time to ski elsewhere. Luckily, Alex was feeling up to driving the next day but we probably should have taken a slightly tamer route. We went on a small road over the mountains to the coast. Later on in the day. the road we were wanting was vaguely closed but having tried and conquered such roads before we accepted the challenge, keeping our eyes peeled for the reason, so eloquently described in Turkish on the signs. They appeared to translate that it had merely not been ploughed but we had snow tires, four wheel drive and snow chains in reserve. We sailed onward easily as we hit the first snow, a good way up this road. The area we were passing through was very weird- large numbers of separate dwellings built from whatever people could find spotted the hill side. Many looked like they had been improved over successive seasons, some had bricks and motor and most included a layer of thick blue plastic. Stoves, solar water tanks and even more frequently TV satellites gave the strange dwellings a greater air of permanence than their building materials as well as more than one properly built mosque. There were no foot prints in the snow to any of them. I have decided they must be seasonal homes- some for tourist purposes but most for summer grazing. Either way, this snowy ghost town was a strange environment to dive through. We quickly passed beyond the tire tracks of the few people that had tried this road and proceded, almost without any problems over the summit and some way beyond. We were distracted, studying the tracks of a large mammel as we drove, (maybe the linx we had seen pictured on a sign further back down the track?), whose prints had been leading us through the shallowest patches of snow on the road when bumph! We hit a slightly bigger drift and can't go forwards or backwards anymore. It wasn't too serious- I got out the shovel and it took a few tries but I cleared it sufficiently for us to reverse in the end and we went back to the ghost village, parking in the snow shadow of a mosque to camp for the night.

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