12/6/90

It was raining when we left the restaurant where we had breakfast and where the waiter had attempted to overcharge us. We walked down to the local bus station and caught a bus up to Ob (1,000TL each)  and from there a dolmüs into the town of Çaykara, squashed into a narrow wet valley.  The market square where we were dropped off was a scene of total chaos with people everywhere shouting and jostling and showing off their wares and passing vehicles blasting their horns to make way.

A troop of Jandarma1 found us a place in a dolmüs jammed with men, women, their groceries and their chooks, and we headed off further into the steep rain-soaked mountains following the course of a steep mountain stream. As we climbed higher into the dark, misty hills the river steepened until in places it was just a series of rocky waterfalls. Suddenly we top the lip of the valley and before us was the town of Uzungöl, with the lake of the same name barely visible through the fog just beyond.

We got out of the dolmüs in the centre of town and walked off into the mist, following the road around the side of the lake, it’s waters a sallow grey colour in the deepening gloom as the fog swirled lower and lower until it merged with the water itself.  The Uzungöl Hotel is a fairly new one built almost entirely of local materials and catering for rich non-backpacking-type people.  We sat out on the porch drinking soft drinks and looking bedraggled and chatted to some American tourists staying there on a package deal.  I trudged further up the road looking for a campsite but everything was wet and swampy and not very inviting at all. When I got back to the hotel I told Linda and Kelly to stay put while I walked back down to the village and bought some bread, cheese, oranges and a tin of tomato paste.

The hut (left) where we spent the night.

Back at the hotel, the mist had finally turned to cold driving rain so with the help of an American lady who spoke fluent Turkish we asked if we could sleep on the porch. The manager let us sleep in a little hut beside the river so we set up camp inside on the floor, had a meal then went back inside the hotel where it was warm.

We yarned for a bit to some of the Americans several of which were from the NATO base in Izmir. Finally, with a thick, cold mist hugging the ground, we went to bed in our little çay hut and slept warm and dry.

1Police

To this day, whenever I taste tomato paste it reminds me of that little hut deep in the forests of Turkey’s Black Sea coast.

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