We saw barely a soul from start to finish. We got streaked with sweat and dust from the old Greek road. We got lost for forty minutes and carried on regardless, unwilling to turn our backs on the view. We fretted on a rugged track, lined with bullethole-laced signs. By the time we dropped with the sun down from the drama of the mountains and to dusky shoreline, we were aching and exhausted. And it was the most perfect day.
Very little in life will beat the thrill of rounding the corner of an unmarked track to see the ghost town of Kayakoy, eerie in its pale visage, sprawling across the slopes below us like a mirage of a promised land with Babadag rising through the clouds behind it. The great peak stood gut-grippingly solid beside the surreal spectre of a city, abandoned by those who loved it best.
I will never forget plucking pomegranates from swollen boughs on the road into Belen, disturbing sleepy tortoises who watched us pass like world-weary pensioners, and tipping our hats to the goats and chickens and the people who tended them. Nor will I forget the absolute bliss of sinking dusty limbs into the swimming pool at the desert guesthouse that became our half-way point.
But what I’ll cherish the most was the camaraderie of our little family, the ease of good company, the jokes that lost proportion, the stumbles and support we shared. And when, after winding through those bleached white bones of a once-living, once-loving community, and navigating the hillside via marks scratched into stones,we were greeted with sunset rays purpling the waters of secret harbours, there was a tangible love in the air.
A moment of silence as we gazed, each enraptured in our own ways, broken again by laughter as we scrambled down the dusty pines the to the little town that had been our day-long goal, and a well-deserved cocktail or two.