“All aboard,” Scotty said, standing outside the Fez bus as a group of 16 of us loaded ourselves in.
It was 8 p.m. and we were leaving Olympos, headed to Goreme in the Cappidocia region of Turkey. The ride was going to be a long one — 10 hours — and get us in to our next city at 7 a.m.
No one was looking forward to the ride.
About an hour in to the trip Scotty nudged me.
“Look,” he said, gesturing to the driver’s console. “We have no gas.”
I looked. The needle clung to empty.
“Well, that’s no good,” I said. “Maybe we should tell the driver to stop at the next station.”
“Yeah,” Scotty said.
We drove for an hour before we passed civilization again. The air-con was off.
Not a good sign.
Then, a few kilometers up, I saw the twinkling lights of a gas station.
“Oh, good,” we both said, sighing with relief.
We drove past it.
“Seriously?” I said, looking from Scotty to the driver.
There is no way in hell I am pushing this bus up the mountain.
“Oh my god,” Scotty breathed. “We have to stop.”
“Say something,” I urged, every second was precious since we were likely running only on fumes.
“I don’t speak Turkish!”
Instead, Scotty gestured to the driver, telling him we needed a bathroom break.
Anything to get him to stop.
Twenty minutes later, we were at the gas station.
“If he doesn’t fill up now …” I began.
Luckily, he did.
Before we got back on the bus, I popped a Tylenol PM. I needed to get some sleep. I still ached from falling.
But, for some reason, Fez doesn’t use nice buses. They are the most uncomfortable buses I have ever been in. Barely any cushion. Barely any leg room. No bathroom. Clearly, the money spent on the tour doesn’t go to taking care of the customer’s comfort.
For the remainder of the night drive I teetered between awake and asleep, adjusting and re-adjusting.
A few hours later, when the sun was rising over the desert, I was awake for good.
The scenes before me were beautiful. Orange sky touching sand, giving way to early-morning blue.
As we drove into Goreme, Scotty woke up the bus.
“That is the hot-air balloon ride you can go on,” he said, pointing out the window.
It was magnificent.
Hundreds of balloons, all different colors, floating at different heights, lingered in the sunrise over a valley of cave homes and fair chimneys jutting up from the ground.
At 7 a.m., we pulled into Shoestring, a cave hostel with a pool on the highest terrace.
After a quick breakfast, I dropped my bags in my room and crawled into bed, thankful the cave I was staying in had no windows.