Mustafa , his son and wife all ferried me across the lake this morning.
As I waved them goodbye and the boat became a dot on the water I suddenly felt rather lonely.
My mood didnt change as I reached the village of kemerdamlari.
There was a big funeral taking place.
All the village men seemed to be there. No women
I saw most of them as I continued walking , watching the proceedings in the cemetery from a verandah about 200 m away.
Now you may remember that this section is the one where Kate marked my map with the word “Dogs”
There I was, happily marching down a lovely flat (for once) track winding its way across pasture land when I heard barking.
Not the kind of yapping that our Jack Russell makes when you move her from her comfy spot
No, this was a deep-throated “come near me and I’ll rip your head off” growl.
It got worse as a neared a ramshackle shepherd’s hovel. About 200 yards from the shack lay a decapitated goat.
What the hell could do that to a goat,I wondered?
And – more importantly – would the dog blame me?
Would it come bolting from beneath that plastic sheeting that seemed to function as the shack’s conservatory, stop, look at headless goat, look at me, look again at the goat and calculate that its master was likely to blame it for failing to do its job of protection.
And if he were going to get the blame then he was damn sure someone else was going to pay.
IE : Me
All this went through my head as I sped by with a sigh of relief. It seemed to be chained up
The relief quickly vanished as I saw in the distance an even bigger hound moving silently towards me on open ground with nowhere to run
Then I noticed the shepherd alongside. With about 200 metres between me and the dog he ordered it to lie down. It lay there looking at me as Usman the shepherd came to say hello.
A nice guy. I asked him (well,I mimed) what I should do if a dog threatened me.?
“Me,” pointing at myself
Then I mimed a walking motion.
Then I stood stock still,widened my eyes and made horrible growling and barking noises.
Usman literally took a step back , probably thinking I had just developed rabies as we stood there.
I pointed at his dog and mimed the actions of running away and / or throwing stones or shouting “Hosht, Hosht !!!” which is what I’d been told to do.
A big grin spread across his face as my meaning dawned upon him.
He laughed, shrugged ….and made clawing and biting motion in the general direction if my throat.
Which I couldn’t help thinking wasn’t a good sign.
An hour later as I was attempting to navigate yet another rock face I saw dozens of goats drinking at the waters edge about 50 feet below me. This time there were 3 dogs guarding them.
They watched me balefully , howling in unison – no doubt praying to their God Cerebus that I would slip and fall.
My path should have gone directly through those goats.
I stayed clinging to the rocks and kept going, not caring where the hell the route took me
I fondly imagined that this would be a pleasant day of lakeside rambling
Ha ha ha ha
Turned out to be the hardest day
The trail went up and down (mostly up) along narrow tracks strewn with loose rocks. Caterpillars hung from silk threads, falling on me as I pushed through the prickly bushes. I was covered in them.
I did manage to swim in the lake to cool off but every visit to the water meant a corresponding climb back up.
The trail markers actually took me through the water on several occasions and then a scramble back up the rocks. One slip and there was a sheer drop into the water.
Today I saw two tortoises cross the grass together , and a big black and white snake I was assured was poisonous.
Oh – and for 2hours I ran out of water and had to used my mini purifier (thank you Cotswold) to syphon water from the lake. I felt just like Ray Mears.
Still, I made it to the village of lower Tirtar – more of which later