2009-06-15 41 28

From Geohashing
Mon 15 Jun 2009 in 41,28:
41.3639384, 28.6272194
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Superbest and a friend of his.


Verily, it seems the RNG has deemed fit to challenge me anew with the unyielding lake of Durugöl. This is an all too familiar locale for me, and one fraught with frustration: My previous expedition had been to the other side of the lake, but fell victim to enticing guiles of the local cuisine.

But it is not the way of the explorer to allow setbacks the pleasure of victory over his will, tenacity and grim determination.

So I have managed to interest my friend, a survivor of the previously mentioned mutinous crew, in this curiously frequent geohash with the lovely pictures of Karaburun that we found, and promises of wonderful cool waters of the Black Sea in this hellish heat that has we have seen too much of in Istanbul, of late. He was also surprisingly intrigued by the prospect of us being the first ever crazy persons to do this.

The expedition is still uncertain, unfortunately. My friend accomplice has an appointment at 14:30 tomorrow. He will try to reschedule, and if he isn't able to then the expedition is off.

If he is, then we'll set out carrying food, swimming suits, a camera, and more detailed maps than I had squeezed out of my old inkjet previously. (Hooray for using school printers for personal purposes... I hope my professor doesn't read this. >_>)

(Hold on a sec... Wanna go geohashing, prof? We'll bring cookies!)

Ahem. Yeah. So, this time, we shall not be ill equipped nor ill prepared. Have at thee, lake Durugöl! Fate allowing, thy conquest is nigh.

Into the Maelstrom of Madness

My friend overslept, he said he was out. The expedition was off. Resignedly, I began walking to my lab to get back to work. However, in my mind and heart, this was not over yet. Oh boy no it was not. I'd get that knavely hash one way or another, I didn't even care if I was late an hour, or a day, now this was personal.

Shortly after, another friend, I'll call him M for now, called. He needed help setting a network. I essentially busted a "hey to hell with that, let's go to this crazy random place I know nothing about!". He busted a "hey why not? Let's go bro!"

As such, we quickly came up with a tight schedule to get us there by 4-5 and back by 7-8. I was late. He was late. There was work to mop up and maps to print and the traffic was awful. We set out around 4. M's mother, having heard of this little exploratory endeavour of ours, apparently descended into a frightful fury, and made us two sandwiches. I'm not sure how these two connect, but M seemed convinced (and fairly convincing) that they do. Anyhow, we picked up 300 gr of sliced salami from my place, and later two loaves of bread and some 3 litres of water, swimsuits, towels, a deck of cards and some chips, as well as two printed out maps. Thus equipped for the harshest of trails, we set off.

Getting to the first bus stop involved walking some 3 kilometers away from my house, then around a wall and another kilometer towards it. But we got there. Of course, the mass transit reference website had lied blatantly; whereas we were promised arrival within 30 minutes, in time for the subsequent bus, we took close to an hour to arrive (to a bus stop called "Metris Jailhouse", no less). The next bus arrived at every hour. We got there 10 minutes past the hour.

Eventually, the bus arrived. Wary of by-now-familiar to me scams, we began to watch the bus personnel like a pair of paranoid, fell-minded, heinous hawks. Having seen the other passengers pay the fare, though, we convinced ourselves that everything was "as usual". They charged us 4 TL per person, with a "student discount" bringing it down to 3. The website claimed it should have cost 1,9. We got there in an hour and a half. The website claimed an hour.

The latter half of the way was, however, outside the urban sprawly parts of Istanbul, with small houses and farms along the roads interspread with fields. And among the fields we saw...

Wind turbines! Standing like terrible giants, towering with their dozens of meters of height, menacingly swinging their dicing propellers! It was as if the nightmare had come true! Fortunately for us, however, they remained content throughout to simply exert their ominous presence on us.

We drove onwards, towards the final stop that was Karaburun. A few minutes to our destination, (it was about 6:15 at the time) we asked the guy when the last bus back was. He said this was it. He answered our blank, shocked glances with "Why, you need to get back?". "Yes, kind of.". "Eh, guess you won't be coming back then."

We tried to see if we can find a room to spend the night but of the two hostels we saw one had a façade too good for our budget, and the other was empty. Right. We decided to walk out to the hash point which was fairly deep in the woods, use our towels for blankets and spend the night sleeping on the ground, probably in shifts. So we set off.

Walking through the deserted streets and around the cliffy cape along the seashore, we saw a bronze windcock, which turned out to top a a lighthouse! Unfortunately the camera couldn't capture it very well, but turns out lighthouses look quite pretty and shiny. Another oddity about this lighthouse was that the light wandered all over the surrounding village, it reminded me of a prison complex or military base to be honest.

Speaking of which, as we continued to walk through the village, we finally encountered a dead end- "Military zone, entrance forbidden, do not take pictures". I wonder, does that include pictures of the sign? Just as I was about to try, we saw something: A very unfriendly looking dog further up the street. It sat up and looked at us. We looked back. Slightly unnerved, we decided to go about our business, wondering if the flash will annoy it or not. I pressed the button halfway to focus...


It barked. Not good. So ok, one dog barking some 50 meters away is not good because it will probably be a dog barking 5 meters away soon. But in this case, we figured all the other dogs in the village would come over to check out the party, and it was 10-11 pm by then, with maybe a 10% of the already too sparse houses occupied. We were kind of... On our own. Against most of the dogs in the village, if they came over. And man, let me tell you there were a lot of dogs around there.

Then the unthinkable happened, it started coming towards us. I pocketed the camera and we walked "very slowly" backwards. You know, the kind of very slowly were both of you keep insisting with serious urgency "be calm, don't run" and at the same time quicken their pace with every step. The kind that reminds of that thing about the dragon and the halfling, and having to outrun just the halfling and not the dragon.

It kept following. And barking. And getting closer. And we ended up in a hopeless half run, scared to death and desperately trying to come up with an idea. And then the idea came and we climbed up a steep staircase to the roof of a house which happened to be on our left. The dog came after us, sat at the bottom of the stairs, barked a few more times, and started waiting. Lovely.

The Wait

Quietly, we made our way to the side of the roof away from the street, sat down, and... Well, played poker. After a while it got too dark to really see the cards, and we decided to munch on the salami, bread and chocolate by the light of a cell phone.

I insisted on flipping a coin to decide who gets to sleep first, but dropped it down from the roof (and being the brilliant genius I am, I'd used the highest denomination one I had). The next one was heads so I was the lookout first, but we ended up watching the stars (and it was a fantastic sight, especially to a city dweller such as myself who can maybe see four stars at night if he squints. Assuming you count the moon as a "star".) and talking the whole night. We saw fireflies, and I almost caught one but it was almost like sniping at 3 fps. Also, there were ghosts. They turned out to be the lighthouse's light scanning over the cliffs. And shooting stars. Or UFOs. Or really fast fireflies.

And being scared to death every half hour that that noise was somebody who saw us and thought we were thieves. Now the wonderful thing about being mistaken for thieves would have been, my hat. See, two weird looking young men, are sitting on somebody's roof maybe a 100 meters away from a military base, have no explanation of what they are doing there ("uh, well, we picked a random spot and went there, officer, honest!"), and one has a hat with a communist star. Right. Not suspicious in the least. Put it this way, common sense is my middle name. My first name's "absolutely no".

We were intending to explain the thing about the dog (which didn't leave for hours!) and if the owner was around offering to pay them for using their property and apologize for the intrusion and so on. Unfortunately we couldn't leave: By the time the dog seemed to be gone it was too dark for us to see it coming back. And no owner seemed to be home at any rate. For whatever it's worth, we tried not to leave any trash or mess up the place. And hey, I did leave a lira for our lovely hosts... Somewhere in their garden... Probably...

A little bit after four, as the sun began to rise, we climbed back down and started looking for a way around the base to our hash. We encountered two rather surreal challenges. First off, we were surrounded: We go down one street, suddenly, a dog. We come to an intersection, there's dogs blocking off every way. Rather large ones, too. With so few people home this time of the year, and all of them probably asleep, we didn't dare tempt fate, so the dog-controlled checkpoints were practically impassable.

The other problem is, the village had some very strange roads. We duck down a short street south, turn right and try to head west when we can, but always end up coming out towards the sea further east. It was absurd, we had no idea what to do and couldn't navigate by the sun because it was behind the hill or some rooftop. Eventually we gave up, having classes and work to do, and went looking for the bus stop through the canine infested maze of side streets.

On the way back we passed the cliffy cape again, I made the sign from some stones, it was a day late and 7 kilometers off, but hey we did our best!

We missed two busses (which came once every hour) doing that, which didn't garner much appreciation from my friend, but after sitting around the "square" for an hour (I got bored and climbed on the gate) we got on the bus back and returned.

So that's that for my first relatively successful expedition! Next time, I'm definitely bringing more supplies and getting to the hash point.