We were traveling through Isparta right about the time the sun woke up the sky and me with it. Roughly two thirds of the bus occupants were still asleep but within minutes of my waking up the bus steward was offering me a pogaca (a breakfast biscuit). This was the first time I have had the opportunity to ride a bus long distance and the experience is much closer to an American flight than an American bus ride. Like an airline steward, there is a man who would get blankets and pillows, assist with luggage, and pass out snacks and drinks at scheduled intervals. Unlike most airline stewards, he seemed to genuinely have fun doing his job. He carried on a running conversation with some men further to the front for hours, he laughed and played with babies and young kids, and when a boy of about ten got too curious, the steward co-opted him into helping pass out the snacks. That boy was in his glory.
As the bus continued its southward journey, I realized that I would soon be walking in the opposite direction through these same mountains. What I was viewing struck me as a bit like the badlands of Arizona. It was also rocky and dry but there did seem to be a bit more vegetation than I remember from my one visit to the southwest and the Westerns I’ve seen plenty enough on TV. None of the trees I was viewing looked to be much taller than I am and those small trees are vastly outnumbered by the bushes.
As I was passing by one of the many cliff faces giving evidence that this road cuts through the mountains rather than up and down or around them, I wondered if I was cheating. When Paul and team made this same trek was there a Roman road working its way through the Taurus Mountains? There was certainly a path from Pergia to Antioch of Pisidia but how well traveled was it? I have daily stops planned at towns roughly 15 miles apart. Was there any human habitation to speak of after Pergia until the lakes region?
Any guilt I might have been feeling was quickly squashed remembering that Paul was almost certainly using a four legged transport vehicle while I would be walking. Even if he did make that journey on his own two feet, they certainly had a donkey or a mule carrying the team’s traveling gear. I would be hefting 32 kilograms of food, water, and supplies on my own two shoulders.
The rising sun did not let my neighbor, Mustafa, sleep much longer than I did and soon all thoughts of my impending journey were set aside as we struggled past language barriers to get to know each other better.