Away we went on a safari to the foothills of the snowy-topped Taurus mountains which had so tantalised me from my hotel bedroom window. For an hour we travelled in our coach, picking up people and waiting in vain for others. Skirting Antalya, the mountains in an arc before us, we reached the wayside café where our jeeps awaited.
“English only!” we cried as we commandeered the leading jeep; but we had to give way to two Iranian matrons who filled the two front seats, while the third provided a buttress for me in the back from trials to come. We motored past orange and lemon groves, pomegranate trees, small fields of corn and many plastic shrouded lines of fruit and veg bound for the export market. There were few animals.
We had our own paparazzi – a man on a motor cycle who whizzed by, then lay in wait to aim his lense at our jeeps as the road degenerated into a serpentine rough track, up and up, narrower and narrower.
We stopped before a humble farm cottage. A white dog smiled a greeting, tail wagging ecstatically.
The Grandmother served us Turkish chai in small glasses and we dipped our spoons into delicious bitter-sweet carab juice. The view across to the snow-capped mountains was stupendous. Fancy waking up to that every morning.
Back in our jeeps, our escort with the camera in close attendance, we splashed through one mountain stream and then another; faster and faster until the spray washed up at us. Bouncing through the bumps and swaying round the corners, our Iranian friends shrieked at every splash.
“Vater – vater..” screamed the effervescent tigress in leopard leotard and bouncy tinted locks in the front middle seat, and the driver obliged, drowning us all in dirty spray. We entered into the spirit and amid roars of laughter swayed in our tightly packed open seats in the back, cringing in delight at each deluge, while protecting our cameras. But while we were getting drenched, the termagant was safely sheltered behind the windscreen. The driver grabbed a water bottle at the next scream of “vater!” and upturned it over her bouncing curls. The piercing shrieks of delight rose several pitches. But it did not deter her.
As if we hadn’t had enough water, we stopped to gaze at a waterfall trickling down the hillside among mossy rocks. Noisy frogs chorused down-river at those of us who ventured along the boardwalk, planks broken or missing. There was a surprising derth of birds.
Our lunch venue stood on a wooden platform overlooking a sluggish river, the ever-present Taurus Mountains in the distance. Fish, chicken or omelette – we had to state our preferences before entry. The food was “free,” the drinks extra. Fair enough. We admired the view until eventually food was served. My succulent seasoned fresh trout was delicious.