At Goreme we are awakened by a intermittent roaring sound. We instantly know what is. Yes, it is a balloon going right past our hotel. We can hear the "driver" talking to the passengers. By coincidence the hotel owns the ballon Company!
We then hit the road as early as possible to head East to Malatya. 430 km of dual carriage highway with hardly a car in sight. It was all so easy. We later find out that today is a National holiday !
We stop for a break. A young Turkish man sees our bike and come to talk to us. He is from Maltya and is an environmental engineer. He want to travel and looks at our bike longingly. He is going to work on the Ivory Coast. He was a delightful young man - the face of modern Turkey I think
The countryside gets drier ( and hotter )
Then suddenly we are in Malatya - the apricot capital of Turkey. And by the prosperous look of the town there must be money in Turkish Apricots. Note to Hubbard Foods - negotiate harder on the price for Turkish Apricots! There must be margin to spare.
At our Malatya hotel we are near the flight path of a big Air Force base. We hear planes coming and going during the night. Delivering love letters to Syria? Then suspicions are raised further in the morning when I talk to an Anerican staying at the hotel. " What do you do here?" I innocently asked ( as you do)." I not allowed to tell you but that means you can work it out for yourself " he cryptically replied. Clearly as I see it he was an American advisor or liaison person at the airforce base next door.
Then it is another longish day as we head to Erzurum getting closer to the Georgian border. Again lots of duel carriageway and hardly any traffic. We cross an 8,000 ft mountain pass and the temperature drops in a welcome fashion.
. They do seem to load the trucks rather precariously and I hope a sack is not going to fall off as I pass them. I think the sacks must be chaff - there is no way the truck could carry that number of heavy bags
There was a lot of road surface upgrades going on
We stop for a midday break. The young men serving us proudly tell us they are Kurds. Not Turkish thank you but Kurdish! They are very pleasant with their limited English. Unlike many Americans we have met everyone on Turkey seems to know where New Zealand is. That is probably better than Donald Trump! Note to self - must find out more about matters Kurdish. I wonder if they have something in common with the Palestiniams - statelessness!
We also note more military look out points and more police road checks. However we always get waved thru the checks and have never been stopped
Woops - something does not feel right with the back of the bike. Aha- I have got it - Diana is missing!
We thus arrive at the ski town of Erzurum ( what a lovely sounding name !) We pass a ginormous ski jump being built on the edge of town. We stay at a ski lodge right at the start of the ski slopes with a nice view over Erzurum ( I even like typing the word !) Soewhere I read that Erzurum is considered to be in the top 10 ski fields in the world. I even go to bed with Erzurun, Erzurum in my head !
Tomorrow - we get close to the Georgia border. I start humming a tune. I've got it - it is "Georgia on my mind" ! Wrong Georgia me thinks but it does not matter.