Mugla to Aydin 100km
To Torbali 85km
It wasn't too long ago when I was looking forward to NOT being the centre of attention, not having kids run across fields to greet me, not having cars stop to take photos of me, and not being asked by every person I cycled past, "Akouta?" (What country?). But now I'm missing the attention. The Turks are not nearly as inquisitive. Most the kids are in school, and even if they're not, I'm just another tourist, and they're not really interested. I do get a shrug and up turned hands, which means "Where are you from?", from quite a few, but a reply of "New Zealand", normally satisfies their curiosity, and I'm left to cycle past. Not that they're rude, or uninterested. There's just not the excitement I was exposed to throughout Asia.
The locals are harvesting the olive crop. They place sheets below the tree, and shake the branches vigorously. Then they pick up everything that falls off the ground. Then they move to the next tree. There are thousands of trees. A huge job.
They are also pruning the apple trees. And there are tens of thousands of these, and everything is done by hand. The orange crop is ready to be harvested, and that is huge. It's obviously a busy time for this sector of the local agricultural community.
Cyclists have a special relationship with workers on the land. For a start, we pass each other slowly, so have the chance to communicate. Also, we are all out in the elements. We all feel the heat, the cold, the wind, the rain. We have similar relationships and understandings with tractor drivers, road workers, motor cyclists, pedestrians, and of course other cyclists. Normally, school kids on their way to and from school, are part of this "brotherhood", out in all weathers.
The sun is setting at about 4.30pm, and it gets dark pretty soon after. But for most Turks, that doesn't seem to be a sign that it's time to go home. Nope. It seems more a message to "hit the streets". The streets, after dark, are really busy, and it's not just young people. Every man and his dog seems to be walking the pavements, and the parks, or sitting in cafés drinking chai. And it's cold..... I've got to say though, I'm enjoying watching the ladies walking past in their tights and boots. But it's different from Armenia. In Turkey, it seems that if your body type doesn't suit tights and boots, you don't wear tights and boots. (There are still plenty that suit the fashion to watch walking past....)
I can't get used to hitting huge cities, that on the map are just small dots. Three times in Turkey, these "dots" have had populations of over a million citizens, and I have never heard of them. Many days, I head towards a dot on the map, struggling to remember the name of the dot. Then just as you enter the city you see a sign...... 1,206,000 population. Wow. That's big. Hmmmm, and now I have to navigate through rush hour traffic, heading into the setting sun, find the right lane, find a hotel, dodge swerving buses, mini buses, taxis, pedestrians, and motor bikes. Normally I'm pretty tired, after a long day in the saddle. The adventure doesn't stop until you're tucked up in your hotel room..... if you can find one.