The next days in Trabzon, Emre, a convivial and helpful member of couchsurfing hosted us in his shared student housing. At the same time he was accommodating two other cyclists from Germany (www.assling-peking.de) and we had fun sharing our bike experiences and sumptuous meals together.
Besides of maintaining our equipment, the time-out in Trabzon gave us the opportunity the only two main attractions of Trabzon: on a rainy day we hitchhiked south in the mountainous back-country to the spectacular Sumela monastery, a rock-hewn monastery perched dramatically on the narrow ledge of a steep cliff in the forest. Especially the foggy weather conditions that didn’t allow more than an occasional glimpse on the imposing building on our steep way up until we reached the gates, gave it an eminently mystique atmosphere. Unfortunately our trip found a less pleasant end when Martina dropped our camera on the floor… Back in Trabzon, after an intense but unsuccessful search for a well-assorted photo-shop, we finally found a guy in a small back alley who could repair it in two hours 🙂
While waiting for the camera to be repaired we paid a visit to the Atatürk main square (each Turkish town, no matter the size, has at least one square or road named like this). But due to Ramadan, instead of cheerful old men stirring in their ҫay while playing Backgammon, we found a tense ambiance among the still well-frequented coffee houses where nobody is drinking or feeling like doing something else than gazing in abstraction.
Therefore we weren’t too sad when leaving Trabzon direction Erzurum the next day. The way to Erzurum leads through the densely forested mountains south of the coast until we reached the high-plateau where we followed wide rolling hills covered with high swaying grass and purple flower fields surrounded by partly snow covered mountains. This scenic but rough and inhospitable landscape is completely different than what we’ve seen so far in Turkey, yet it has its own unique beauty.
We enjoyed biking through this spectacular scenery a lot although we had heavy and quite unpredictable thunderstorms minimum twice a day and had to dig ditches with stone shovels around our tent in order to allow the mass of water the sky was pouring out over our heads to drain away. But although it was storming like there were no tomorrow, inside our tent it was cozy and dry and we had hot pasta 🙂
After such a night we stopped in the morning at a coffee house for a hot ҫay. When we were about to leave, Gui noticed that his pepper spray that is normally mounted in front of his handlebar for quick access, was gone. Assuming that we had lost at the parking, we started to search for it. When explaining to the shop owner with great pantomimic skills what we were searching, he directly knew what we were talking about send his son on the tractor to the nearby housings. On his return he brought a poor little ten years old boy with big, red, swollen eyes and his, not in the slightest, amused father. Underlining his word with angry gestures, including throwing stones after his frightened son, he explained us that his son had “found” the spray and – of course – couldn’t resist to try it out, whereby the wind had blown a full charge into his eyes! Terrified and probably blind with pain he had thrown the spray away. The father ensured us several times that he would recompense our loss what we vehemently rejected. This poor little boy had already suffered enough and we didn’t want that he has to pay the next three years for this can (especially since we were sure that the glazing red, painful eyes were not the allow punishment waiting for him). Thus, we were really relieved when we eventually found the spray in the grass behind the house.
The funny fact is that his was the first time ever that the spray called into action but not the last time on this day. But let’s start this story from the beginning…
After this delayed departure we continued our way and when we had just climbed our highest pass so far with over 2000m, we saw once again dark clouds gathering at the horizon. So we didn’t any time at the top and were hurrying down to find shelter from the imminent cloudburst.
Not even 5min later it started to rain and we pulled out at the first house to ask for a roof. But although the kids playing in the yard were really happy to see us, the mother was waving us away (first time that somebody spurned us since we are in Turkey). So we had to continue our way under the rain until we reached a couple of houses enclosed by a high fence. The gate was wide open so we entered the yard to knock on one of the doors, when 5 huge, terrifying dogs approached us and started to surround us. They were barking aggressively, baring their teeth and no sign from their owner to call them back. As they were inexorably coming closer and didn’t seem to be intimated by our shouting, we had no other choice than using our pepper spray on two of them to keep them at distance. At this moment a minibus turned into the yard and 5 guys jumped out of the car to come to our rescue. This chased the dogs away and finally and old lady came out of one of the houses (armed with a broom against the dogs). She asked us in to get a warm and shake off the shock.
In the end we were anyway happy to have stopped here because shortly after her seven sons came home from the fields and we shared a simple but delicious lunch at the floor of the warm and snugly hut.