Lost in Cappadocia

Where am I ? 

I was lost. LOST.

It sounded so simple when the owner of the hostel had dropped me off at the start of the trail and explained to me how to hike Cappadocia’s red and rose valleys.

« Just follow the path and the markings. »

Fine. But now I was starting to wonder if the said markings really were those spray-painted red arrows I had been following since the beginning.

Maybe they were, but I guess anyone can spray-paint an arrow on a rock. Maybe they thought they would teach a lesson to people like me who insisted on hiking without a guide despite their poor sense of direction.

I looked in front of me. Crumbling rocks.

I looked back. More rocks. I realized then that it might have been a while since I had last set foot on the « official » trail. Those white, dusty, powdery, crumbling Cappadocian rocks had created a path of their own that I had foolishly followed, until the hike had started to morph into a precarious climb.

There’s no way I’m going back, I thought.

It had been slippery enough on the way up. If I tried going down this valley, I was going to slip and break my neck for sure. Plus, there was no guarantee I would be able to retrace my steps back and land on the right path.

On the other hand, I had now almost reached the top of the valley. At this point, I might as well climb the last bit of this « definitly-not-a-path » path and try to get my bearings.

A few sweaty minutes later, I was on a dirt road at the top of the valley and it was official : I was lost. The view, though breathtaking, didn’t give me any clue as to where I was.

I could see the red valley, but completely on the opposite direction to the one I had been heading for this last hour.

On the bright side, I was definitely on a path this time. All I needed now was for this path to turn into a road, stop a car and find the answer to that most pressing question :

Where am I ?

Taking a gulp of water from my half empty bottle, I had that passing thought : “You might want to save some of that”. I scowled at myself : what have I gotten myself into ? These kinds of considerations about water are only for people in movies and books, right ? They’re for adventurous people who are having some serious trouble, not for day hikers like me !

I pushed the disturbing thought away, hoisted my backpack up on my shoulders and, muttering to myself a reassuring « It’s all okay, girl », I started walking left on the dirt road, choosing my direction at random.

Twenty minutes later, I was standing on top of a cliff. The dirt road under my feet leading me only to a jump into thin air. A dead end.

« FUCK ! » I yelled at the empty red valley I hadn’t managed to reach.

Furious and panicking a little at the idea of this dirt path not leading to a road at all, I turned around and walked the twenty minutes back, past my starting point, and on, towards, I could only hope, a real, modern, polluted, familiar and reassuring road.

A few minutes later, I noticed tire marks on the dirt road and literally jumped in happiness, picking up the pace. Night would be here in one hour top, and I didn’t want to be alone on this freaking endless dirt path then.

At last, I saw it in the distance, that thin dark ribbon of reassuring concrete. First it felt like a mirage, then I heard the thundering of a car and I started running, not wanting to miss that opportunity. Who knew how many cars a day took that road through that barren valley ?

Waving my arms like a mad woman, I ran towards where my dirt path intersected with the road, watching the lonely car moving fast, knowing I would be too late, then seeing it slowing down and miraculously stop and wait for me.

Thanking all my stars that I looked like (and was) a helpless woman, I ran the last meters and breathlessly asked the question that had been haunting me.

« Where am I ? »

But it didn’t matter anymore. I was back to society and people.

I went back the next day to hike another valley and almost didn’t get lost, which is as good as it gets for me. I think of my poor sense of direction as a curse and a blessing.

How can you have a real adventure if you don’t ever get lost ?

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