Sivas - Erzincan - Erzerum
18.07.1966 - 19.07.1966
By the time we reached the town of Erzincan, after stopping for about 4 hours during the night and setting off again at 4.30am, there was one remaining passenger besides ourselves, and he was only going as far as Erzerum. It was as if we were travelling in a private coach. We were getting up pretty high into the mountains now and at times we could see large snowdrifts on the ranges in the distance. Again the scenery was of the grand scale, and bare, but much more rugged and rocky and with rivers and mountain streams here and there. We stopped on one occasion when there was a beautiful, crystal clear, mineral water spring bubbling out of the ground. It tasted like soda water and was very refreshing. Eventually we reached Erzerum and then we were in for a long wait.
Our original ticket had been transferred to Mihan Tours when we joined the bus and we had later paid the driver $13 each for the stretch Erzerum to Tehran. This was pretty fair value, as we learned from some people waiting at the bus office that they were being charged $14 just from Erz to Tabriz. I think our driver must have pocketed the dollars. These passengers were joining another bus, which had been there for two days while rounding up business, and was now scheduled to leave at 2 pm. We thought we would probably be shifted onto that coach, but no; it left on time at 2 pm and we remained with the one on which we had arrived, expecting it to follow shortly after. We waited and we waited and we waited. We read, and then we went out to eat, and then we came back and read some more, and when it got dark we stretched out and went to sleep. When we woke up in the morning we had still not set off, and as I write this now at 9.15am on Tuesday we are still waiting. Perhaps we will leave in the next hour or so.
MUSINGS: There is a predominance of the peaked cap on men right across Turkey, with the occasional appearance of a panama hat. For women, there is an almost total absence of the veil in Istanbul, though it begins to appear as you head east, and in Erzerum there seems to be quite a lot of women still wearing them. There is hardly a well dressed person in the country, from all appearances. Most are in cheap, well-worn and often torn clothes, though there have been no beggars. I haven’t found the Turks particularly friendly or unfriendly - largely indifferent, but I can’t say that I have seen much of the village life, as we have been going from town to town. The military is in evidence everywhere, and especially around Erzerum, for some reason.
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