After countless head shakes and many a tss!, we had given up on ever finding the mythical Sivrikaya, deciding to head toward Anzer, otherwise known as Ballıköy, famous for its honey with alleged healing powers. Having most likely been a bee in my former life, Anzer seemed like paradise— images of beehives and wildflowers dotting the green hillsides filled my head, and I was already salivating at the thought of slathering some warm bread with butter and Anzer's legendary honey. While playing the navigator and plotting our course on doubtful roads through the valleys, I randomly followed a yellow line on the map that lead toward the town of Ispir, and let out a shout— Sivrikaya!
We immediately changed our course (birds trumped the bees) and began to excitedly discuss the possibilities of meeting this Mustafa, and hiking through the snowy plains to catch a glimpse of the Caucasian Black Grouse.
As the narrowing road led us uphill, the temperature dropped in the car—our ears gently popped, and our curiosity grew. Would we make it before sundown? Would we find lodging? Would we finally see the bird we were hoping for? Then, to our dismay, a red sign with a lot of exclamation marks declared that the road to Ispir was closed to traffic. We decided to ignore it.
We pulled over to the side of the road and stepped out of the car, just in front of another massive sign that threatened us in blinking lights, to go no further. The air was crisp and sweet, lightly biting my cheeks. There, on the hillside, the humblest homes clung desperately to the earth, and a vast scooping plain opened up before us. Fog obscured mountains, falling toward us, and a small, squarish man passed us with suspicious eyes.
Merhaba, we chimed, and smiled.
We were offered a grunt and a respectful nod of the head. Could he be Mustafa?
I was convinced I would spot the black dots of the grouse on the plain any minute, but as the looming clouds behind us turned orange and the fog grew denser, we looked at Sivrikaya and knew. We had to turn back. The road was shut, and the few lean houses looked unable to host two wanderers. We hadn't eaten since breakfast, and the thought of asking someone to share their food, which seemed hard to come by in this desolation, made me uneasy.
It would have to be another day.