53km Qalat Samaan to Midanki

A mythical beastThere aren’t many better views to wake up to than ancient ruins all around your campsite in an olive grove. With the sun warming our backs, it would have been a perfect morning until we realised our stove wasn’t working properly. We set to work fixing it, cleaning and replacing nearly everything we could think of, but without much luck. The flame is weak and dirty, leaving a thick coat of soot over all our pots.

This put us in a very bad mood. We depend on our steaming cups of coffee and hot suppers to keep us going in the chilly winter temperatures. After a fair bit of deliberation our best guess is that we picked up some particularly dirty fuel as we were leaving Aleppo. Perhaps the gas station gave us diesel instead? Our plan is to replace our fuel as soon as we cross the Turkish border tomorrow, clean the stove and hope for the best.The temple at Ain Dara

Broken stove aside, we had another lovely day rolling through small towns and olive groves. We visited the ancient temple of Ain Dara set on top of a hill and marvelled at the huge statues of lions and various winged creatures. We pushed on and reached Afrin by lunchtime, a bustling market town with a large Kurdish population. The women in their colourful clothes reminded us that we were getting closer to Turkey.

As we were doing our shopping a man came up and gave us a sample of the falafels he was making for his restaurant. Delicious! We went in and ate two of the best falafel wraps we’ve had in all of Syria with fresh mint and two different dressings. We’ll miss those cheap and tasty lunches when we’re back in Turkey. We’d hoped to reach Cyrrhus, the next site on our list, by late afternoon but the hills got the best of us and we didn’t quite make it.

We just managed to get our stove working enough to make supper and then the cold drove us into our tent. The temperatures are warm enough during the day but drop quickly as soon as the sun goes down. Without a way to make hot meals we’re going to put a push on tomorrow to get over the border and into the town of Killis by evening, where hopefully we’ll find clean fuel and a warm hotel.