In just a few minutes the sun is going hide behind a mountain in the background and I’m rushing with my camera in my hand in order to catch the last glimpses of light over Ani. I’ve been pedaling the entire day at altitudes over 2000 meters with headwind and I’ve managed to reach the site just before closing time. The guys at the entrance gave me 10 minutes, but that isn’t the problem, the problem is that the sun will set in less than 10 minutes.
I have no time to think about exposure and I just rush trying to make the best of it, because the place really does look amazing. It was once a city like Constantinople and 100.000 souls lived within with walls but it was abandoned completely 200 years ago. You can still see the old layout of the buildings, the city walls and the two ruined but still standing churches. And you can imagine for a short moment how would have been life in a city situated in such a scenic place.
I think that East Anatolia has been the most stunning part of Turkey I saw along my route, together with the mountains through which I’ve had to pass to get here from the coast. It’s completely different from other parts of Turkey and life here is harsh but maybe at the same time beautiful.
As I leave the citadel darkness sets in and I try to find the shortcut to Digor, and while asking to villagers I distinguish the “Misafir” word as one of the guys tries to convince me to stay at his house. I say yes as I’ve been really curios to see the inside of a typical rural turkish house. And during the evening and after the meal I’ve been offered by the family I find out that the guys from google translate really did something useful, and by using the smartphone we manage to exchange some information. For example I find out that military service is still compulsory in Turkey and that it’s 15 months long, that no wood is used to fire up the stove. One of the small girls is in her first year of English and she goes through her notebook searching for things to ask me, and in the process I manage to learn a few extra words in Turkish.
The next morning after I’m also offered breakfast I head towards Digor on one rough but beautiful road with absolutely no traffic. I really love this moments, somewhere in the middle of nowhere on a deserted road after experiencing a sample of genuine hospitality.