(Assuming we have a maker, of courseâ€¦ It would be hard to meet a big primeordial clump of star dust. He wouldn’t be very talkative at least)
Descending from Thermessos was a lot quicker than the hazardous climb up. I got to enjoy the view all of the way too, as I was less focused on trying not to pass out from the strain. The only exercise I get is when I’m on holiday, so it always comes as a bit of a system shock when I decide to throw my unfit and moobed geeky body into a mile-long hike up a mountain.
Catching my breath, I knocked on the window of the taxi to wake up my driver (he’d locked the door, even though there wasn’t anyone else for miles around). For most people, a trip to Thermessos would be enough to fill a whole day of a holiday; not for a traveller that’s travelling alone! I could hardly head back to the hotel in the middle of the day. I didn’t fancy sitting on a beach. The only real option was to continue exploring; it was why I came to Turkey, right?
So I’d hired this taxi driver to drive me around Antalya for the day. It worked out very cheap â€” far cheaper than one of the tour groups â€” and I could go anywhere I liked! I think it cost about 30 euros to be driven around for 6 hours; I couldn’t complainâ€¦ or could I? <dramatic beat>
We had arrived at Karain. The taxi parked and I stepped out. I was greeted with a little museum with yet another ominous path leading up an even steeper-looking mountain than Thermessos’.
‘Here we go againâ€¦’
This time it only cost me about half a euro and at least the first 100 meters of the climb had a nice all-weather path. After that it turned into rocky shelves cut into the mountainside, but beggars can’t be choosers. God knows there was no one to complain to anyway. It was well into the afternoon now and I was getting pretty hot. I was running out of water fast. I figured I should probably take some nice photos, so at least when the hunting dogs finally discovered my corpse I would have a lasting photographic legacy.
I was almost the top when I took that photo. Apparently the plains you see below are highly fertile, and the reason the cave of Karain has been inhabited since the Paleolithic age. These cave men would’ve gone out to hunt and then returned to these caves (safe havens, due to their seclusion, and the fact they’re a mile up a mountainâ€¦) to prepare and cook their food.
The caves of Karain are incredibly special because historians have tracked continued inhabitance for 25,000 years. People lived in them until 1700AD! That means while the Egyptians were building pyramids, or the Sumerians were discovering polytheism, people were hanging out in the caves of Karain. They might’ve discovered how to work iron or bronze in these caves; they are old. Prehistorically old.
Tt was pretty cool, then, to be traipsing around these dark, deep caves. Sitting and enjoying a sandwich where cave men might’ve once sat and spit-roasted wild boar. Of course there was a few romantic scrawlings carved into the walls, but I felt that was only fitting, considering how many people have probably had sex there, over the years. Imagine how many generations were conceived there, over a 200,000 year period. I was probably sitting in the most sexed-up spot in the world!
It was after eating my sandwich, and a little more wondering around, I suddenly wished Turkey had embraced tourism a little more. I’d taken one turn too many and suddenly found myself in a rather dark and dank portion of the cave. Quickly whirling around, looking for some hint of the way out, I lost my footing and fell onto my ass. I then started sliding down a rather steep ramp and finally faceplanted into one of those rather spikey-looking walls that you can see in the photo above.
I sat still for a while, trying to regain my senses. I was concussed, but fortunately I’m blessed with a very rational mind. I only screamed for help a couple of times before I realised it was stupid. No one could hear me scream (hah). I’m not sure how long I was there â€” there’s no sunlight in there â€” but it was probably for an hour or so. It was actually the thought of my poor taxi driver sitting, waiting at the foot of the mountain that drove me to think of a solution; well, and the fact that I was way too young to die.
Extending my telescopic monopod, I used it to support my weight as I slowly got to my feet. I gradually worked my way out of the cave, one step at a time. After a day trip into the middle of no where, it was definitely time to head back to civilisation and the associated luxuriesâ€¦ like pathsâ€¦ and other people.
I did manage to take one hell of a photo from outside the cave though. It was ironic that the profession that had almost killed me â€” chasing the perfect photo â€” also saved my life. Go monopod!
I spent another couple of days in Antalya (you can find more photos in my Turkey collection) but finally I said goodbye to the tourist trap, packed my bags, and headed off to Izmirâ€¦ and Ephesus!
Originally written for Mr Seb’s blog