The Turkish Experience

Myself and Welsh Pete became involved in a very strange affair which probably turned out to be the biggest fiasco ever to leave British limestone. I first joined the expedition to Northern Turley in the Easter before we were due to depart. I persuaded Pete, who really wanted to go to Iceland, and the team seemed very strong. The expedition had received a grant from the Sports COuncil and the objectives were cearly defined. Our eader was Harvey Lomas, who I did not know, but since he hda travelled quite a lot in the past I assumed the best! We were even graced with the presence of D. Judson who was going to fly out to meet us.

The plan was to drive overland to Turkey and continue the previous years' exploration of virgin limestone and unentered caves. The area is situated in the industrial region with good communications and easy access. What could go wrong?

At the last meeting before I returned to Cambridge we resolved to buy a vehicle, and everything was apparently going well. Permission had been applied for and would be arriving any day; everything had been arranged and we even had a contact in Ankara.

Whilst I was at University doing my exams, the papers were full of the 'Turkish Problem'; there was street fighting in Ankara and, eventually, the government reached a crisis point. This disturbed me a little, but I knew the expedition was in good hands; except I received a rather inane circular on expedition notepaper.

When I returned to Cambridge the truth began to dawn; the cast of stars had dropped out and for various reasons the organisation had got no further.

I decided to do something constructive and bought all the food for the expedition whilst Harvey bought the van! Pete and I had several long discussions about dropping out, but we felt we had a moral duty to continue.

With only two weeks to go, we had another meeting, and it was here that a bombshell was dropped. We had been refused permission to enter the Turkish caving region; presumably because of the civil disorder. The alarming thing was that Harvey had been witholding this information for quite a few weeks to stop people leaving the trip. Those few weeks could have been spent arranging a new expedition. I was rather annoyed as I could see no way of continuing the trip to Turkey. Unfortunately, I was the only person who thought that way.

We decided to telegram our contact in Turkey but there was no reply. Did he really exist? I parted company with the expedition and salvaged as much money as possible. Pete decided to stay along with everyone else; probably because they had nowhere else to go.

What happened after that is best told by Pete; but the van broke down in Austria and everyone abandoned ship and raced home to England.

It was a very sobering experience with a sound moral: 'always organise a trip abroad yourself, so that when things go well you know why!'


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