Steve and I got up at 4:15 a.m. to watch the sunrise. The wind was still howling in from the west and the sunrise was, like the sunset the previous night, wholly unremarkable. We packed our gear and walked back down to the hotel where a dölmus arrived to take us back to Malatya. As we descended the steep hill we passed the same people as yesterday, riding their donkey’s up the hill to gather winter feed for their animals. The women kept their heads bowed to avoid looking at us but the driver stopped to talk to one man and his daughter couldn’t help but look at us. She was beautiful, with long dark hair and alert blue eyes. Sadly I thought, it will only take a few years before the harsh climate and hard work will turn her into a weathered crone like the rest of the women we saw up there.
The trip back to Malatya was quite speedy despite having two flat tyres, and we got there at about 9:30a.m. We walked up to the information office to see what else we could do in the area, but there wasn’t much to see around Malatya so we decided to catch the night bus further east to the town of Erzurum.
After a meal at a lokanta1 we lugged our gear to the bus station, bought tickets and left our packs in the waiting room. With a whole day to fill in we went first to a trashy Chuck Norris movie overdubbed in Turkish, then found a tea garden and sat there for 2 hours. We watched an army parade in the main street and wandered around the market for a while. I bought a little sheep’s bell from a hardware store and we sat drinking çay with the owner while we worked out a price (2,500TL).
Finally with nothing else to do we walked back to the bus station and had a wash in the toilets. A kiwi guy called Tom was waiting for a bus to van so we swapped stories with him for a while. When the bus turned up it had been badly overbooked and it was an hour later when we finally left Malatya and began our uncomfortable 10 hour journey to Ezurum.
1 A lokanta is a small, family-run restaurant serving food through the middle of the day.