APRIL FUCKING FOOL. Sorry Nick.
He walks right into the jug-of-water-balanced-on-top-of-the-door-fall-on-your-head trick.
We put a devil lady's face from a magazine inside the un-lit wood-burning stove in preparation for him to go to make a fire and come across the devil looming at him from the shadows. (Unfortunately during the day it spontaneously self-combusts, scaring the life out of Jake and me while Nick just looks at us like we've gone stark raving bonkers).
We hide his glasses inside a kite hanging from the ceiling. Evening comes and he innocently takes out his contacts, blindly fumbling around the house, feeling for where he left his glasses, convinced he's lost them. Feeling a bit cruel, I grab them and put them on while he's clanging about into the bathroom. He emerges, unable to see more than a few feet in front of him but hearing our hysterical laughter, demanding to know WHERE WE HAVE FUCKING HIDDEN THEM. THIS IS NOT FUNNY GIRLS. Screams of laughter from us as he tries to stomp over, crashing into the table, searching in the fridge we're standing right next to and shouting right at my too-blurry face, oblivious to the position of his glasses on the end of my nose.

We carry on our days of creating secret seating areas in the rocks, and loving making sculptures and paintings out of things we've found in the garden, picking up an old right-angle of mangled broken plastic pipe 'ohhh wow, that's a nice bit of pipe'. Carefully lining up a pile of rocks, 'this is my nice blue rock and this is my nice red rock and this is my nice rock with lots of holes in it and this is my nice rock with something growing out of the side of it and this is my nice rock that I want to climb inside of and this is my nice rock that is just nice, isn't it, don't you think it's nice?' Jumping in excitement at the discovery of a rusting, metal, 1mx0.4m rectangle that really has ' just SOMETHING so good about it doesn't it?... But actually oh my god it's sooo beautiful like it is lets just hammer it into the middle of the garden.'

Our final day. 7am breakfast routine, fresh fruit and muesli and home-made yoghurt from Mustafa's village and mmmmm Turkish coffee. Dramatic finale to the horse-dog-walking. Maya chases something down the river bank, dragging Jake on her arse through the reed. Horton to follow, leaps into the river, not quite sure how to move in water so decides JUMPING IS the best way to tackle it. JUMP. THROUGH. THE. RIVER. ALL. AROUND. THE. RIVER. Soaking everyone. Nick is yanked all over the place as he desperately clings to the end of Horton's chain while trying to pull Jake pulling the lead pulling Maya away from potential river-rat and everyone in river disaster. I can't help you because I'm paralysed with laughter SORRY GUYS.
Our sculptures are finished off and we spend the afternoon in gorgeous sunshine at the beach. Awkward-sized pebbles and medium-sized waves and un-predictable placing of slippery stones on sea-bed, walking from beach to sea like someone keeps kicking us in the back of the knees and trying to disguise falling as an enthusiasm for sitting in shallow water.
A lot of the villagers around Assos live on the first floor of their houses, with the animals living below them on on the ground floor, helping to heat the house. They grow all of their own food and work consists mainly of looking after animals or land. Materially, they have very little, yet they are SO happy. It seems like we've gone very wrong somewhere in the UK.
Metin takes us to a little local fishermens' beach cove for dinner. A table is set on the beach for us and we have champagne and a beautiful last meal. The water is still, it is so peaceful, and the light is incredible as the sun goes down and it rains over the sea in the distance.



Overnightbloodybus back to Istanbul. Too uncomfortable and craving sleep to bother to lift my hand and double check what airport our flight leaves from, so at 6am, half-asleep, we make our way from the coach station to the airport we flew into. After lazing around on an airport sofa for a few hours waiting for check-in to open, I go to text flight details to home and obviously we're at the wrong airport, the one we're supposed to be at is on the opposite side of the city, on another bloody continent. A real palaver (Jake's favourite word we've said that doesn't exist in America). Luckily we have 5 hours to our flight.. Say our sad goodbyes to Jake and spend 3 hours venturing across Istanbul (notorious for it's horrendous traffic jams), trying to co-ordinate metros and busses and over-priced taxis. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of people who approached us at different lost points during our journey and didn't just point us in the airport direction but drew us maps and helped us carry our cases and listed bus numbers and specific locations, repeating until they were sure we understood. So many Thank You's/'Teşekkür Ederim's to the lovely people of Turkey.

Something about the lives we've observed and been invited into and the amphitheatre discovery and the mind-blowing views from the temple and the stupidly huge sky of stars we've watched and the animals we've met all help to confirm our existing, growing beliefs that the world at home is fucked, actually. And That. Is. That. We'll need to learn how to build our own self-sufficient house and garden in the forest, (and then actually build it, and fucking hurry up about it). And we should trade and share in the skills each person has and not in money. We should probably wake at sunrise and sleep when we're tired. Note, some other things that would be useful: which wild plants are edible, how to make and shoot a bow & arrow.

I feel like I've used amazing, incredible, fantastic, beautiful, delicious, MIND-BLOWING too many times to describe the last 16 days. So I'll just say they've been really CUNTING good and be done with it. We'll never ever forget our first workaway experience, and staying in the safe-house of someone who transpired to be along the lines of powerful Turkish mafia probable drug-lord something or other, with 'people' after him. Wish I could write a little more about what happened, but it's probably best not to.

CHEERS Turkey thank you for everything.

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Wake up at 6:50, poisoned by all the raqi drunk the night before, and crawl out onto the decking, looking across to Lesbos (haha) as the sun rises. If you make the few humans with you shush then the only sounds that can be heard here are the beating of birds wings, clanging of the bells around the sheeps' necks or the screeching donkey 3 fields away. It is soooo nice.

We walk 40 minutes along the road to Assos, meeting a gorgeous dog on the way who leads us into the village, pissing on every post, each time looking around to us like an enthusiastic tour-guide. Assos is on a hill, and we explore the ancient, winding, cobbled streets, to the temple at the hill-top. Like I said before, the view is MIND BLOWING. I forgot any year 7 classics knowledge I didn't have anyway when they forced Latin on us in year 8, so I get Nick and Jake to brief me and I can tell you there's a Doric temple built to honour Athena, and there's an amphitheatre, and it was all built around 1000BC by Aristotle and his mates. It's really fantastic.

We phone the nice man from the night before and he meets us in the village centre (a coffee shop naturally), and takes us to his house. It's a beautiful old stone village house that he's owned for 20 years, and lives in during the summer when he's not in Istanbul. We sit on his sofa in his lovely sitting room of messy-mismatched furniture and he gives us coffee in all different sized mugs with squeezy condensed milk and tells us fascinating stories of Assos and Turkey. Local herdsmen go up into the mountains with their cows/sheep and spend two months with them and nobody else. They return speaking a sort of language to the animals that sounds like a strange and beautiful singing. (No wonder the local cow man was so calmly in control of his herd of beautiful big mumma cows and babies when Horton and Maya the horse dogs decided it was game time.) There's shouting from outside, and he opens the door to have a conversation with an old villager. He laughs as he closes the door, telling us he's realised that he unconsciously changes his voice when he speaks to the village people that he's known for so long. When he moved to the village, he'd find gifts of olives or cheese in the kitchen for him, not knowing who had put them there, the people in Assos are the most welcoming he has met. He shows us photos of the funny art pieces he created with an invented artist persona, using archeological bits of ancient stuff that he's found around the Assos ruins, and they are actually really interesting. He seems genuinely touched and encouraged by our enthusiasm. He points us in the direction of some secret Assos ruins, and as we leave tells us to please call him if any of us are ever in Assos or Istanbul again and that we're always welcome to come and stay with him. I'm sure you don't get this welcomed into lives and homes after just two conversations in the UK.

With the Assos temple on the cliff above us, we clamber the moor-like landscape, following ancient columns and walls and paths through tunnels in prickly bushes. We come across huge stone platforms and stone archways and burial grounds, an unidentifiable dead animal that is either a sloth or an alien life-form. We start getting the heebie-jeebies, a bit lost amid the head-height thorn bushes, finding ourself at the entrance to what looks like the den of a large animal and remembering being warned about the vicious mountain dogs. Every corner we turn a turtle on the path makes us jump, followed by a huge snake, Nick screams as stick insects leap at him. It feels like we're in the middle of nowhere and then Jake turns around and mutters to us 'uhhh guys, there's a person in the bush'. You bloody what?!! Creepy person we can half see half hear in the bush and we quickly shuffle past, as quickly as you can shuffle when you're being grabbed at by thorns, trying not to step on a turtle that looks like a rock and avoiding the snakes jumping out at you. And Jake shouting POISON OAK POISON OAK!! Every third step which makes Nick and I laugh more each time, convinced she's blabbing about some American fantasy plant. (A fatal mistake I realise now that my fingers and toes have spent the days since itching, blistered and swelling up to puffy sore grossness.)

We may be more lost than we'd intended, and decide to head towards the sea and to walk home along the beach. Emerging the other side of a particularly aggressive thorn bush we discover AN AMPHITHEATRE YES YES YEEEY YEEEY. We sit on the steps and pretend we're ancient people watching a gladiator show, imagining whether the audience would be sitting how we sit to watch the show or hanging upside-down and backwards, or whatever, which leads to 2 hours of life-comtemplation.

A cliff drop to the sea prevents a beach walk home so we reluctantly work our way back to the road, stuffing our bags with some beautiful old animal bones and a turtle shell. The happy, pissing tour-guide dog we met earlier is sitting where we left him, and rolls onto his back, wagging his tail as we approach. He decides to follow us for the entire 40 minute walk home along the road, ignoring our attempts to shoo him back towards Assos. We get back and present the dilemma to Mesud who speaks a few words to Mustafa and tells us 'don't worry, one of the boys will sort it out' which seems to be his response to most things. Somehow one of the boys and his moped does 'sort it out' and the dog gets safely back to Assos.

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After dropping off the Ukrainian hitchhikers, we carried on along the deserted road home. Out of nowhere something appears against the sun, coming down the middle of the road towards the car. We get closer and it's an old woman, with a huge multi-coloured shawl wrapped all around her body and head. She's gesturing at us and all over the air around her and chanting in a manic language that sounded like nothing we'd heard, though our understanding of turkish is so poor she could quite easily have been chanting 'look at the weather look at the weather'. She doesn't move to the pavement, we stop the car and it looks like she's going to climb on top of the bonnet. She bashes her hands on the car, working her way around to my window, continuing the manic scream-chant. We look at each other, not knowing what we should do, does she want a lift? does she want money or is it insulting to offer her money? It didn't seem quite like she wanted any of those things as her disconnected chanting got more crazed. We made pathetic English apologies, trying to gesture that we can't understand what she is saying, and guiltily moved the car forward and towards home, making sure we didn't run over her toes.

On Friday evening Mesud invited 10 friends over for dinner, Jake, Nick and I had to cook for 15 people. Almost. Serving up a huge vegetable one-pot or chili sin carne isn't the acceptable 10+ person cooking here. After the standard of foodings we'd experienced so far, we would have to provide at least 5 vegetable dishes, a subtle and beautifully cooked meaty thing, a couple of salads, bread, olives, nuts, and some sort of desert along with a platter of fresh fruit. Thank fuck we were allocated as the clearer-upers, and each of the guests brought food. At one end of the dome room, Mesud has enough musical instruments to supply a 20 man band, including bongo drums, an electronic double bass, a keyboard, a xylophone, maracas... The coordinated 'jamming' of Otis Redding's 'Sitting on the Dock of Bay' and Ray Charles' 'What'd I Say' that went on on Friday probably makes up for the % of the year they spend sitting silent making the house seem like it's inhabitants are a huge bunch of partying musicians. Anyway, it was nice, and the smile on Mesud's face was great.
We have a really nice chat with a bedraggled Turkish man with fluffy hair who owns a house in Assos and has just given up the job he's done and been bored with for 15 years to open a sailing school. He has an overwhelmingly kind aura about him that makes you feel entirely at-ease. He jokes about his failed attempt at becoming an artist and invites the 3 of us over to his house tomorrow.
Jake and I make our exit as the coke-snorting, chauvinistic guy from Istanbul arrives in his Mustang. He comes through the door with a 100 mile per hour scuttling rat-dog-something or other that turns out to be the incestuous spawn of brother and sister jack russel dogs. He has missed dinner, but he pulls out the plate of 7 leftover steaks from the fridge and eats all of them.

Back at our little workaway home Jake sits on the decking to skype America and I decide it's time for MUSIC + DANCING, climb the shelves looking for the lead that plugs ipod into speakers, WHERE IS IT. spend 15 minutes jabbing every button on the three channel-changers trying to make the FUCKING tele work, try to fast forward through the 'Ray' film about Ray Charles in the DVD player, pressing stop when it looks like he's singing. Nick comes back from being keyboard player extraordinaire and we send him straight back over to steal the Amy Winehouse live in London DVD. Finally full-blast surround-sound Amy Winehouse, stamping hand shaking march dancing around the kitchen and I realise oh my god I am my mother.

Get a message when we do another one!







 
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