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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Location: Silifke, Turkey

MapIn my mindís eye thereís a corner in southern Turkey where things changed seven years ago. Itís in my mindís eye because the collision with the truck knocked me unconscious and Iíve had to rely on other peopleís recollection and a few photos to recreate the scene. Yesterday we drove through that same area, and I learned a lot, most importantly that this infamous corner will have to remain in my mindís eye.

The road follows the Med coastline from Antalya to Silifke, with the Mediterranean an ever-present vista to our right. Once past the large town of Alanya, Barish starts giving us commentary on the events of that day seven years ago. Bozyazi is another sizable town, and roadworks begin to appear. Several small villages like Telefki, Yenikas and Soguksu passed by as the roadworks picked up intensity, with gangs of men operating large trucks and diggers removing chunks of mountainside to enable the new road to progress with minimum corners and level gradients. On some occasions they havenít cut into the side of the hill, theyíve actually cut right through it, and they havenít just dug one tunnel, they've dug two, to enable a double carriageway in both directions. These are massive earthworks, to create some beautifully smooth roads.

In Aydincik (pronounced "Aiden-chick"), we passed its hospital, and Barish pointed out the emergency entrance. ďThatís where we first bought you after the accident, that happened about 8 to 10 kilometres further onĒ. I didnít realise that I'd come backwards to the first hospital. As the road ascended out of Aydincik into more hills, we could sometimes see the old road below us, and weíd watch as it disappeared under tonnes of newly deposited rocks and earth created by the new road.

Eventually Barish asked Yusuf to pull over and stop. We got out and walked along the roadís edge to view a corner of the old road that had escaped the advance of progress. It lay about ten metres below us. Barish doesnít know if thatís the actual corner or not, but itís probably not because it's heading down the hill, and the accident occurred on the crest of the hill. Looking up the hill, it was obvious that the majority of the old road, and my corner, no longer exists.

Further on is Silifke, and hospital #2. They didnít have the facilities to operate on me (although they would do now, with a brand new hospital since being built), and I was taken on to Mercin further along the coast to hospital #3 for the operation to correct my foot. Our tour, however, does not go that far, and we stopped for the night just past Silifke at a little place called Kiskalesi.

Outside our hotelís back door is a beach onto the Med, and about 300 metres offshore is a castle, built on a little island about a thousand years ago. Iíve always had vague memories of seeing this castle in the early morning light as we arrived at the same hotel at 5am after being discharged from the Mercin hospital. After checking in, the group went for a swim in the sea, and I decided to test my aquatic skills and swim out to the castle and back. I did it, and felt like Iíd conquered a little self-imposed challenge. Mike shook my hand, saying Iíd joined a small elite group from his tours to have swum it.

The rest of the tour will be new for us, and we will eagerly embrace it. The past is now buried under tonnes of rock and earthworks, and my swim proves that life goes on, thereís still more world to explore, and Iím glad to still be here to do it.