Today was by far the craziest and busiest day yet. We woke up at 8:00, and quickly set up our plan, grabbed a bag of bread, clementines and cheese from the cafe, and headed to the car rental office. Also, the rain had stopped, and blue sky had started to burn through the clouds.
We had decided the night before that the set routes and unpredictability of the. Dolmushes wasn’t cutting it, and in order to see the far out sights, and to get way out into the country, we would need our own transportation.
The owner of the car rental shop spoke a small amount of english, which was a huge relief. Kirk’s Turkish speaking is good, but not 100%. We ended up getting a small stick shift hatchback, which was cheap, and ran well enough.
After navigating out if Atakya, we drove out to St. Peters church, which is built inside a giant cave in the cliff band which looms over Atakya. After seeing the actual church, we climbed the ridge above, and encountered a local shepard with his flock, way up on the steep mountainside. We also picked up a local kid, who hiked with us for most of the time, and liked to fiddle with my camera and take pictures.
Next, we drove towards the coast and up into the mountains to the ruins of St. Simeon. Also, from the top of the St. Simeon ruins, we could see the owner of Atakya Evi’s wind farm off in the distance.
The next stop was the beach, where huge waves were crashing up on shore, and almost swept Steph out to sea while she was posing for a picture.
Our final stop of the day, the roman tunnel, was a bit farther up the coast. The tunnel is a massive tunnel/canal cut into the mountain to serve as a flood drainage system for the ancient town in the next valley. We also wandered around in the parsley fields and orange groves of a local farmer. Since we hadn’t eaten all day, the fresh food was a savior.
A harrowing nighttime rainy drive back to Antakya, and another good Turkish dinner after the tunnels.
To finish off the night, we hiked back up to St. Peters church in the cave for Christmas Mass, but were a little late. We ended up meeting a local guy at the church, who walked us back down into town. We all had some warm Salhep from a street cart, and called it a night.
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