Doing the Rain Dance

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Mediterranean Coast,
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The flames of Olympos were sufficiently extinguished today with rain, hail, snow, and flooding.

Packing up to leave this morning was a bit difficult.  A thunderstorm raged and caused the power to go out in the building.  All over town I could hear car alarms screaming out their cry from the blast of thunder and lightening in the sky. 

Arriving at the otogar (bus station), the driver had us right were he wanted us.  Two soaking wet cyclists desperately needing out town (and out of the rain).  He charged us two regular tickets, plus an extra passage for the bikes and gear.  This wasn't so bad actually as our gear took up the entire back storage area of the bus and all other luggage had to be piled inside the bus. 

Setting out, the rain was streaming down the windows so hard we couldn't see out.  Eventually, they fogged up completely and a passenger assigned himself the job of wiping them down so the driver could see. 

Driving along the coast, the sea was a torrent mixing up 2 meter swells before it crashed down over the picnic tables along the beach.  But then the rain turned to hail a pelted the bus, piling high in the street and drowning the vehicles which were unfortunate enough to be parked there.  Store owners tried to sweep it up into piles before pushing into the gutter, but couldn't keep up. 

At our 3rd stop, the news came that we could no longer go to Olympos.  The road was impassable.  The bus had to backtrack and take a path up through the mountains on a very indirect route to Antalya.  Statistically, this area in Turkey gets 3cm of precipitation in the month of December.  I think they achieved that in the first 15 minuted this morning!

Feeling desperate, we didn't know what to do.  Someone who didn't speak English tries to tell me 'no Olympos', but what other options did we have?  I hadn't planned that far ahead yet.  All I knew what that I could veg out in Olympos for a few days and see the sites and THEN plan the next stage of our trip.  No other options other than getting off and going back, we continued on to the city of Antalya. 

In the meantime, orange groves turned to lakes.  Newly formed rivers cut trenches through the forest in their furious rush to get to the sea.  Water from the mountains changed to waterfalls pouring down and founting into the road where rivers washed away the tarmac.  Steep hillsides emptied their contents into the road with boulders and mud for the bus to swerve around. 

As we rose further into the mountains, the rain changed to snow, but still the thunder and lightening raged.  Thin tracks in the slush were all the driver could see to follow until floods of water washed them away. 

Lines of traffic crawled along in both directions as drivers sought alternate roads for travel.  Everyone on the bus sat riveted to the windows in awe of the extreme weather as time ticked slowly by.  The driver certainly earned his pay today!

Finally we were dumped in a pouring wet Antalya.  What was to be a 2 hr drive to Olympos was a 6 1/2 hr drive to somewhere I didn't want to be.  And of course we were charged the difference in fare since we traveled a farther distance than we'd booked.  Talk about rubbing salt in a wound!

Here we were.  A city I didn't want to stop in previously, and now I really didn't want to be there in the pitch dark and pouring rain.  Zero ambition to figure out the buses to get downtown, and zero ambition to cycle, I was at my wits end.  So there I sat - stewing and wondering what to do.  Then I saw a traveler we'd met one day in Fethiye.  Not normally one to be overly social, I leapt across the otogar and grabbed his arm.  After talking, I found out he and another traveler were taking the night bus to Cappadocia.  That sounded like a better option than anything else I could think of and was certainly better than staying here.  Two minutes to get to the desk and purchase tickets and we were on a new path. 

Now it was only another 5 1/2 wait for the bus, and a 10 hr drive to get to Goreme.  We and our bikes are traveling more by bus than anything else lately. 

All I can say is it better not be raining when we get there...
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