If I haven’t mentioned it before it’s because I prefer to leave all that to the travel brochures.
I have a self-imposed ban on words like “amazing”, “incredible” and “beautiful.”
That said , the landscape round here is simply amazingly, incredibly beautiful.
I’ve been walking through pine forests and mountains. Deep canyons and gorges. Limestone pinnacles that stand carved from the hills like huge fists punching skywards.
Rocky outcrops and boulder-strewn paths that drop down until you find yourself in something like an Alpine meadow.
I’ve seen three tortoises making trails through the grass and goats in the hills standing on hind legs to eat from the branches.
In between you (sometimes) pass through remote villages with hovels so randomly constructed you wonder how anyone can live in them.
The animals – usually goats – live beneath the balcony or below the main family room.
The trees here have hardly changed since the time of Christ.
Funny to think of St Paul moving through these mountains spreading the Word, little suspecting that those fir trees would one day become such a powerful symbol of the time Jesus was born.
But it’s not a landscape without change.
Logging and marble quarrying are destroying large areas of these mountains and – more importantly – obliterating the trail markers I rely on.
Back at the Pinargozu fish farm Arwan told me he hated what was happening.
They’re worried that somehow all this industry will affect the water supply so vital to their farm.
But he’s more concerned about the impact on the environment.
The wood goes to make high quality paper and furniture.
The quarries generate clouds of dust that settle on villages
The marble is bought by Chinese companies and sold all over the world. You can see the quarries from the road and the great vertical slabs that have been sliced from the mountain tops.
“But what about the jobs they create ” I asked.
“In 10 years time the jobs will be gone and the children here will never know how beautiful this land was,” he said.
Last night I had beers with three Trekkers. A lovely young Dutch couple who are travelling everywhere in a camper van and Marcus a German guy who seems to have visited every corner of the world.
Confident and self-reliant and if you had to trust someone with your life out there it would be Marcus.
Today I walked to the Roman ruins of Adada. Before you realise it, you are walking on great slabs of Roman Road around 5 metres wide.
The road just appears out of the bushes and then winds its way around the valley into Adada.
The town announces itself with fallen marble columns and walls.
Dense scrubland partially hides a fallen house here, a doorway, a well, another massive column almost hidden among the juniper bushes.
And here and there a beautiful stone block with Latin inscription , fallen on its side with Lizards scurrying across it.
The Forum with marble paving stones still perfectly intact and aligned.
Temples to Zeus and the emperor – a few walls still standing and inscriptions to the God Emperors still legible.
I write this in the village of Sipahiler as donkeys and cattle roam the single street.
I flagged down a minibus for the last few km and it stopped outside the village hall cum tea shop
Dorsun who I think is the mayor invited me in for chai. Then he cooked me two eggs and stared unsettlingly at me as I made a messy spectacle of myself trying to eat them
I mimed the action of pitching a tent but he took me across the road to the Mosque, up some rickety steps and into one of the dirtiest rooms I have ever seen with mattresses on the floor..to be fair I think building work is continuing
Without doubt there must be bed bugs there but I dont want to offend him.
Pray for me. I literally still have the bedbug scars from Spain
It’s 8.40pm. The men are still drinking chai.
Stop press. It’s now 0730 and I’m on the trail. I slept on the concrete floor with a smell emanating from somewhere. It was only when I realised that the Worst Village Toilets in the World were directly beneath me that all became clear
And I mean the worst