Twas the eyes, the gut, and the ancient dead people that made me stay
My biggest blister was filled taut with juicy intimations of sharp fluids bursting and leaking, gushing through skin torn away from exposed nerves. But we would have gone on.
Knees like battered bocce balls (strung together, tenuous and tight, with rubber bands from the faded newspaper that lay in the garden all weekend), were creaky enough to ask for a day off hiking the Lycian Way. But we would have gone on.
My shoulder, curled forward in Quasimodo consequence of my messenger bag, kindly requested a respite…but we would have gone on. Physical complaints were insufficient to stop our striding soles, but there is more to a man than his component parts.
Okay, it was basically the component parts. But chief among them: the eyes, stomach…and perhaps one other part, too tender to mention yet. (And forgive me any inadvertent implications of genderism; we all know women are more hardcore than men anyway, I just happen to be of the XY cast.)
One of the realizations that enlightened us to being lost, up in the mountains, without much food, no water, no supplies, not even warm clothes as the cold came on and the sun went down, was the epiphany that the epic peak that had been observing us all day was indeed Mount Olympos. We imagined the gods chuckling at our plight, perhaps betting on our odds of survival. Ares thought we wouldn’t realize our predicament until it was too late, the cynical bastard.
But with Olympus the mountain comes Olympos the ruined city, a purported 30 minute walk from where we slept. It was actually more like 10. So we self-gifted a day for the expanses of meat and bread which Turkey provides on its plates, and poking lenses at the flaking paint on semi-forgotten Russian barques. (I know, a barque is actually a grand vessel with at least three masts, but it’s such a fun word I’d rather misuse it here than never get to play with it at all. Again, forgive me.) (And I can only infer its Russianity from the name, so if it’s an unfair assumption, you’ll have to forgive that too.)
As the day checked its 401(k) to see if it was ready to retire, I explored what’s left of one of the six great cities that formed the core of the Lycian League. Olympos controlled the sea routes between Syria and Rome, got rich, and ditched the League to join a bunch of pirates under chief Zenicetes. The life of a pirate is always one of comfort and ease, and they all lived happily ever after. Until the Romans showed up, razed the city to the ground, and Zenicetes had to go light himself on fire. Harsh butt.
After that, the locals played a spirited game of “Who’s going to sack us next?” for a few centuries, until the river silted up and they got tired of being stabbed. But they left behind some nifty things. Ancient baths, a necropolis city of tombs spanning centuries and civilizations, and a 26 foot temple doorway which stands over a fallen pedestal that once bore a statue of Marcus Aurelius, in a wall that encloses only memory and grasshoppers.
All those stone memories brought a smile to my brain, but it was the puppy that made me laugh. What is it with Turkey and dogs? The floppy footed lad found us in a dusty street where workmen carried pipes and flagstones. You’d think no one had ever loved on him before. But we had nothing better to do that day than pet a puddle of puppy in the Turkish sunshine. But then again, who does?