Evliya Çelebi Way Project: 2014 Ride, Part 1
We have arrived in Turkey!
Contributed by Gerald Maclean
On the 8th, we got up at 3:00 am and by 5:00 were at Heathrow Terminal Three ready for our 6:50 flight to Istanbul only to find a delay until 10:00 was already posted. Storms had wrecked flight schedules in and out of Ataturk airport; we knew we could not make the internal flight to Nevşehir, so I texted Ercihan in Avanos not to try meeting us there at 19:30 (his time) as planned. We proved lucky. When we did eventually arrive at Nevşehir, only 20 hours behind schedule, the bags we had checked back at Heathrow were waiting for us and there was Ercihan with the minibus ready to take us to Avanos and the horses. In the 3 months since we left, Göksu had foaled, producing a perfectly conformed and beautiful filly foal, yet to be named.
Today is already a historical date in the evolution of the Republic of Turkey. Today Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was elected the 12th President of the Republic in the first popular election to the post (previous presidents have all been appointed by the Prime Minister from elected members of the Meclis, or parliamentary assembly).
We spent the day at the ranch, catching up on local events and playing with horses. It is proving to be as hot as we expected. That was among the reasons we came over a week before the 2014 Ride is scheduled to set off. Would I be up to riding in the heat? A few days to get the blood accustomed to daily temperatures in the 30s and the digestive system on track to accommodate local (yerli) water and food.
While Turks voted, the history of the EÇW Project was also in the process of being made at the Akhal Teke Ranch where we met our first major sponsor for the 2014 Ride, Dr Mehmet Küçük, Director of the Kütüphane-e Türkiye Projesi (‘Turkey E-Library Project’), which is establishing up-to-date digital resources and training programmes in provincial public libraries throughout Turkey with funding supplied by Bill and Melinda Gates. Dr Küçük and his team had driven down from Ankara, with his colleagues Drs Sinan and Göknür Akilli of the literature and technology departments respectively at Haceteppe University and METU (Middle East Technical University); other equestrian colleagues came to the meeting from Nevşehir University. Since the brief of Dr Küçük’s project shares ambitions with the EÇW Project of improving material and cultural conditions in impoverished rural areas, we soon found common ground. Sinan has recently translated Donna’s book about Eastern horses into Turkish and has are delighted to have this opportunity of thanking Dr Küçük for his support.
Another hot day at the ranch. Donna took time away from talking to horses to make a note of the horses being brought into condition for the forthcoming Ride.
Time to clean out the support vehicle and make sure the kitchen and shower facilities are in working order.
Time to dry out and test the camping equipment.
Time for the nalbant (farrier) to shoe some of the horses for the expedition.