Day 13. Assos adventure.

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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