Day 1 – Afternoon

My first day did not start out very well at all. Murphy has a law. Murphy is evil. My plan was to get up in time to start at Hadrian’s Gate at sunrise. Since I was having such a hard time getting to sleep the night before, and since I’d turned my phone off which is my alarm clock, I didn’t wake up until almost nine. So I decided to skip the gate and leave straight from my hostel instead.

Google maps is even worse in Antalya than it is for Istanbul. I missed my turn and by the time I realized it, I was already a good mile past it. I knew that the main road I was on eventually looped around and rejoined the road I wanted to be on. What I didn’t realize when choosing to push forward instead of backtracking was that I was adding a good five miles by taking this loop. Oops.

To make matters worse, even though everything around me is practically a desert, I somehow managed to step my right foot in the only patch of swamp in Antalya. So now I am running late, moving in the wrong direction, and doing so with one muddy sock… Then the sun and heat take over. It got up over 90 today and I am carrying on my back a big black bag weighing in at 32kg.

The one advantage is that the more water I drink, the lighter that bag gets. Even though I was staying hydrated, I could feel the heat exhaustion kicking in. When I came close to the airport, I actually walked twenty minutes out of my way so that I could get a break inside the AC. I never even made it inside. I planted myself at the first shaded bench I saw and barely moved a muscle for over an hour. I didn’t dare get up. From my seat I could see the local buses and if I got off that bench before my will retook control from my body, I would have abandoned this journey, hopped on a bus, and made my way back to Istanbul.

Instead, I limped my way from that airport to Perge. What should have taken less than two hours from that point ended up being a little more than three. The first thing I did when arriving at the ruins was to find myself a place of shade and fall asleep. The dinner time call to prayer woke me and that brings us to the present where I am now on a bench writing.

When I first came up on the ruins, I could see a little of the mountains to my right. If I had the motivation to climb up on one of these small hills around me, I bet I could see the whole range dominating the northern skyline. I could imagine Mark coming into Pergia as exhausted as I am. One of the others points ahead and says, “This is nothing. We still have to cross through those up there.” I don’t blame him for turning around and heading back home. In fact, I’m a little jealous.

I’m not going to explore these ruins. I saw the stadium and the theater. There’s a crumbled wall in front of me. Good enough. This walk is about remembering lives, not visiting ruins. The sun is starting to fall down the western sky and the temperature has dropped notably. I’ve got a long road ahead of me. Now is the best time to walk it.

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