We woke with the expense of the hotel, the immanence of Team Eddies’ visa dates and piss-in-parking-lot-gate hanging over us. The only solace was the promise of a good breakfast to make up for having missed dinner.
The hotel dining room was sumptuously decorated; clean white linen swaddled every table and the patio windows overlooked a distant, turquoise swimming pool, glistening alluringly in the middle-distance, set in well-watered, manicured grass.
The breakfast itself, on the other hand, was shit. A single carton of milk for stale coco-rocks. It was sort of an odd combination of left-over entrees and marmalade. To his credit, Ollie took the brave step of risking a date. He was rewarded for his heroism with fly larvae saluting him from the top of the fruit. Not to be beaten, we ate pretty much everything they put out anyway; more or less out of spite.
With the sour taste of stale coffee on our lips, we parted ways with the pink ice cream van. They had just three days to make it into Russia before their visa ran out. We had thoroughly enjoyed the absurdity of the pairing and the guys’ company and it was a real shame to see them drive off. Especially as they took off with all of our useful cutlery. The bastards left us with three spoons and a fork. They even took our good cooking knife.
With no real plan for the day, Jack made use of Google Translate to help us find the nearest hospital. Jack’s legs looked like they may well be good for firewood but not much else besides, but we thought it was worth trying to save the withered stumps with a 2km detour into Dȕzce proper. Once in the hospital, the dramatic sight of what used to be Jack’s legs meant he was seen straight away. In honesty, Jack’s legs looked like they lost a fight with a pack of kittens wielding knuckle dusters dipped in malaria and rabies and plague. They looked like he had smeared a mixture of blackcurrant jam and oats over them and not done a very even job of it. They looked like someone had inflated them with a bicycle pump in several places and hit them repeatedly with a jagged crowbar covered in broken glass and killer ants. They looked like mosquitos had actually nested inside of them, creating a kingdom under his skin, putting up tent poles and giving them a new lick of paint using other people’s blood. They looked fairly bad.
In the queue, another patron asked Jack something in Turkish. “English” Jack replied. The man laughed and skipped ahead of him.
Miraculously, blood tests showed Jack to be just fine. Betraying all expectations, he didn’t even need to have a skin graft from his backside to fix the damage. Antibiotics and some stronger antihistamines were prescribed. Because it was still the post-Ramadan holiday, finding a pharmacy was again problematic. The sheer number of pharmacies was surprising in itself – we saw at least 7 or 8 before we found one that was open.
Fears allayed, we set off towards Cappadoccia. The trip had now just become a challenge to keep moving in order to maintain the breeze in the limo, any stop of over 10 minutes caused the temperature in the limo to soar into the 40s.
Steve took us all the way past Ankara down crazy undulating roads into a village in the middle of nowhere during end of Ramadan celebrations. The village was another example of what seemed to be a systematic inconsistency in maintaining the appearance of a town. Carefully tiled roads and houses falling down next to them. Carefully maintained central verges and pavements that were crumbling into the dusty ground. The limo was some kind of new specimen in this place and we nodded and smiled out the window as though this was what everyone in the UK drove.
We wound our way down dirt tracks in search of a free spot to camp. Somewhere away from people, with room to securely park a limousine. Preferably with air conditioning. We followed a rutted track that curved away out of sight. This was our first off-road experience, our first sign that the Rover 827 was designed to explore the Earth forever, that the reincarnation of the Rover marque was a categorical imperative. Eventually the track faded onto a deserted hillside, completely shielded from the village by trees and a valley. Traction control, soft air suspension and power steering made the rocky ascent almost too easy. The light was just starting to grey as we pulled up.
We woke early with the heat and drove the remaining 200km to Nevsehir, the closest city to Cappadoccia, where we ate.
Driving to Cappadoccia is almost as stunning as arriving. People infest the bizarre stone structures that crop up around this area as though they were your garden variety geological structure, like hills or something. Instead, giant stone phalluses erupt from the ground and tower up to 15 stories. “Cappa”, means ‘pine cone’ and “Doccia” means ‘town’ in the Turkish aborigine language. The structures were ordered built all over the country on the command of the mad king Atafurkah I in celebration of the way pine cones seemed to resemble a woman’s breast once she has reached the age of 60. Although some several hundred of the structures were built, as legend has it, the king choked on a watermelon seed whilst juggling pine cones in the night and was not discovered until the morning. In memorial of the incident, on the anniversary of the king’s death, and 6 months either side of it, the Turkish people sell as many watermelons as they possibly can by every roadside in the country.
We did try and get hot air balloon rides to see the stone pillars from the sky, as we are told that men experience something of a revelatory familiarity when they see them from above, but we were far too cheap to shell out the £75 each required.
Despite the fact that we had taken a several hundred kilometre detour to see Cappadoccia, we stayed only an hour or so there. It was just so hot. It was a desert.
We headed towards the border. On a lucky streak with free camping spots, we took another plunge down an unmarked road to find somewhere innocuous to sleep. Whereas the previous night, the ground had been inhabited by the world’s prickliest plants, the world’s angriest looking ants and had been truly impervious to pegs, the place we found on this side road had more amenable shrubbery and only a lone circling vulture in terms of hostile fauna.
We took the opportunity to modify the limousine. The roof got painted white with some counterfeit “Fulux” house paint we picked up on the way. The tires went white too. We hoped that the result was just amateur enough to convince people that the machine was not worth nicking.
Another night under a clear sky.