Day 8

I left Egirdir yesterday morning. Sad to leave the hotel/pension where I was staying. It had beer. And a good Turkish red wine
Bit of a shock while dining on the balcony with a young South African called Ian.
A truck trundled below us on the lakeside path. My eyes began to sting and my throat burned
“What the hell was that?” I asked the waiter
“Oh it is nothing – just poison,”

Oh well it it was poison I dunno why I was worried.

The truck came back spraying clouds of mosquito killer high into the air.
This time we ran inside and covered the food.
The GPS app has been working well but on the road out of Egirdir it tried to take me through a military base
The one thing I do know about Turkey is they don’t like you even taking pictures of anything remotely military let alone hiking through their parade grounds
I kept to road but was still able to see what I assumed was a bunch of recruits being made to do some serious sit ups in the hot sun while a bored officer in white shirt and loosened tie lounged in front of them in an arm chair. I guess officers are the same in any army.

The trail took me along a disused railway line before climbing high again I kept to the lakeside road because I wanted to visit Bedre beach…a destination that took on mythical status as the day grew hotter.
On the way I passed a group of male and female roadside workers clearing the bush. The men invited me to eat with them, though they had bugger all themselves.
They gave me goats milk again Chai, apples and rice wrapped in fig leaves. Humbling.
I carried on to the Eden that I now assumed Bedre beach to be.

I actually walked right past it.
Litter strewn, rocky and a dog watching me warily. No one else there
I still stripped off and swam And you know what? It was warm,clear and refreshing.
In fact it reminded me very much of swimming in Galillee. The whole area is reminiscent of parts of Israel and the West Bank now I come to think of it.
I ended in Barla. Another destination I eagerly anticipated.
Ended up sleeping in a room above a Petrol station on the main road.
Barla itself was a good 2km up a turning Bizarrely the road leading there was the best I’ve seen in Turkey.
Capable of taking 4 lanes of traffic it looked like the sort of boulevard you’d expect Russian missile carriers to roll down on May Day.
The reason is that Barla has become a shrine to Sheikh Said Nursi
In the 1920s he became a leading Sufi scholar and educator (and a war hero ) who is revered by certain Kurdish elements
He fell out with Ataturk the founder of the modern Turkish state and was banished to Barla
Although he was buried here his body was removed because the Govnt didn’t want his grave to become a shrine.
Fat lot of good that did
As I sweated up the hill I came across dozens of women disembarking from a bus.
I followed them up the hillside and found them sitting around Nursi’s gravestone
They moved away as a group of men arrived
One of the youngest seems to have been a trainee Iman. He began reciting prayers.
It went on and on. His mate next to him wearing a Man Utd top kept rolling his eyes and tapping his feet.
At one point there was a short break in the recital and the Manc jumped to his feet as if to say “ok can’t sit round here praying all day ”
The the kid resumed his prayers and his pal sat down again, sighing heavily

And that was Barla. Nowt else happening and streets deserted. Even the tat shops near Nursis mosque selling Nursi tourist stuff were closing down
I headed down the hill and went to bed lulled to sleep by the sound of trucks and traffic.

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