Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dildo Valley

I know that this is what many of you were waiting for, so I thought that I'd cut to the chase:For more cerebral stuff, you'll have to wait a bit longer, however, I can give the short version:

Way too much second hand smoke: from, 65% of males and 24% of females in the country smoke, but it felt like 99% and 65%.

FanTASTic scenery in the eastern (Ayder, Dogubeyazit, Van) and central (Cappadocia, from whence the picture, above, came) parts of the country, where we spent most of our time.

Wonderful people who made sure that we got to where we were going, sought out people who could speak to us, volunteered to help us WITHOUT thought of "compensation" (except for one unfortunate incident in Van), and IF they were negotiating for providing us a service were very up front about it. We followed lots of people around fairly blindly, and never had the problem we've encountered in other countries of someone just ripping us off (or worse, kidnapping us, given the news we constantly hear from that general area of the world!). No, people would tell us (or motion us) to "get on that bus", or "into that van" and then charged us extremely reasonable rates (many times verifiable by written rates, or just so ridiculously cheap that it didn't matter, although we could see others were being charged the same thing). That's not to say that we didn't get ripped off, ever, but we did so, knowingly, if stupidly ("He's asking us for X amount of money to show us A, B, and C - it's ridiculously high. Let's do it, anyway.").

Best hike: in the Kackar mountains from the town of Ayder. The guide felt that we did about 45km (about 28 miles) in that one day (about 27km(16.7 miles) of that was just on roads to get to/from the trails since it was off-season). Two pictures from that:

The lake we visited, and:

just some of the scenery from our mountain pass view.

The NEXT best hiking (and running!) was in Cappodocia.

Best food for me: these crepe-things filled with spinach, eggplants (aubergines, for you Europeans), and chili that we found in the undocumented (in the Lonely Planet guide) city of Bolu, and lentil soup that I tried to have for breakfast, lunch, and supper (frequently successfully!).

And. . . we crashed a wedding reception, and were forced to join in the merriment - it was a Kurdish wedding in the town of Van. We were just following the music, and the next thing we knew, we were part of the line dance at the inSIStence of the groom and guests!