"Not all those who wander are lost"

Turkey, Part III: Going out with a Fizzle

It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.

-Vince Lombardi


Life continued without climbing.  At times it felt like it might not, but it indeed did.

At first I spent my time hiking around and exploring new cliffs around Geyik that could be bolted.  I assure you, there are several, but the best and closest have been developed.  None the less, it was a good activity and gave me something to do for entire days at a time.  I also tried to turn my attention to taking photos, but, without being able to ascend a rope for photo sessions, that was pretty difficult as well.  I attempted to be productive; doing my taxes early, updating the blog, applying for jobs in Spain, but ultimately I found it extremely difficult to find the motivation let alone the focus to write or really be productive in any way.  And then the rain started.








I’m not sure if the rain helped or hurt my situation.  It made it easier for me to not climb since it was wet, cold, and not fun to climb, but it also made doing other fun things more difficult as well.  The rain often helped me have people to hang out with on the dreary days.  I started playing backgammon and chess whenever I had someone to play with and when I didn’t, I would read or watch hours of movies.

In lieu of endorphins from exercise, I resorted to sweets.  I noticed when I looked down at my grocery cart while waiting to check out: baklava, halva, Sarelle dark chocolate hazel nut spread, and several dark chocolate bars.

Unable to climb, unable to take photos, and unable to really do anything outside, I was left with plenty of time to think.  Why do I climb?  Well, that one was easy.  Climbing is the best physical and mental battle, it provides fun community, and it’s a good reason to travel the world.  Can I not climb?  Also easy.  No.  At least, not without replacing it with something that gives me more long term satisfaction than baklava.  The more difficult questions nagged at me though and often lead me to the same question I started with.  I’ve traveled a bunch by myself; it would be nice to have a home base and the same people around for more than 3 months.  Great, where should I live?  I don’t like any of the places I’ve been enough to want to live there.  Maybe I should travel some more and find a place I like.

This battle between footloose and homesick always comes up when I get injured or break down, but it seems to be coming up more these days even without a catastrophe.  The desire to have a home, constant friends, even a girlfriend makes me want to stay, but as soon as I stay a few months I get an itch so deep being that I need to move keep going. Even without my need to move on, trying to find a place to live that’s not huge, but has a good community and has good year round climbing nearby is next to impossible.

I never know if it’s just me that struggles like this, or if it’s common among people who travel alone.  Honestly, it’s hard to find enough people who have followed this path to even ask.  I can only think of two off the top of my head and it’s not usually the first question that comes up in conversation.

My mind continued reel, I questioned my life, and tried to focus on rehab for my elbow. After a month of physical therapy exercises, icing, ibuprofen, hoping it would get better, and existential crisis, I began to climb a little again.  Unfortunately my elbow still hurt if I tried anything steep or difficult.  I keep climbing a few easy routes here and there, but still only climbing intermittently between rain storms.

The Turkish Highline Carnival came like a swarm of noisy, smelly, colorful, jubilant locusts.  Highlines sprang up all around Geyik, the number of people at camp jumped from 30 to 300 in two days, and impromptu jam sessions popped up every day.  Aside from the crowding in the kitchen and lack of seating to hang out in the warmth of Josito, things continued fairly unchanged for me since I still couldn’t climb much and my one attempt on a highline made it clear that pulling back onto the line after a fall wasn’t good for my elbow.

February was coming to a close.  My feelings were mixed as usual.  Geyikbayiri is great and I felt like I barely got to climb, but every day that passed was another day closer to Spain and hopefully being able to climb again.  I started pushing my elbow a little more climbing.  In many ways, my experience on Turkey was one of the worst I’ve ever had.  Being in an amazing climbing place, but unable to climb for whatever reason is pure torture.  The injury itself turned out to be the worst I’ve ever had.  The rain made it hard to even get a decent amount of exercise.  But much of that seems secondary to the fun that I still had there.  I did manage to climb for a month before getting injured.  I met a bunch people and had a lot of fun hanging out in Josito, exploring Turkey, eating Gözleme at the market, playing backgammon, playing cards, and just getting to know all the awesome people.  I guess I’ll just be really cliché and quote Vince Lombardi again: “it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”  For me, I was ready to get up and Spain would be awesome, whatever it takes.  And besides all that, no matter what happened, I had Jeffrey to hang out with.

And then without realizing that the hours and days had added up already, I found myself riding shotgun with Nigel on our way north.  We stopped in Kütahya for the night where, thanks to his families company, we got the hookup to stay at a hotel with natural hotspring pools.  After 3 months with more cold and rain than sun it was amazing to soak in the warm baths.

The next day we continued on toward Istanbul.  The couple hours it was supposed to take turned into an all day affair when a fuel like broke.  We tried several things to fix it, but eventually had to have it towed to a shop so they could install a new fuel line.  By the time I made it to my destination in Istanbul it was 9pm.

The next day was a whirlwind of Istanbul.  I took a bosphorus boat tour, checked out Ayasofya and Sultan Ahmed Mosque, got rained on, visited the Grand Bazaar, Gülhane Parkı, Galata Tower, walked down Istiklal street, and met up with some friends for dinner and Salep.  We finally made it back to my friends and I managed to get almost three hours of sleep before heading to the airport.  I was exhausted, but excited for Spain.

















And a few more photos of rocks for you…


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