The next morning, I woke up knowing that I was going to have to do whatever it took to work my foot back into shape. So I hobbled downstairs to breakfast and decided to come up with a plan.
Before sitting down to eat, though, I walked a couple laps around the parking lot to test my foot without the load of the pack.
On my walks before coming to Turkey, I had made sure to walk about a mile every day barefoot, so even the tiny muscles in my foot would get exercise they didn’t get when I wore shoes.
I had been wearing shoes every day during the walk now, and I knew from experience that when I stopped walking barefoot at least a little each day, those tiny muscles only lasted for about two weeks, so I suspected that the pain was caused by their atrophy and the fact that other parts of my foot would not be getting the same muscular support they were used to getting.
So, I figured as I ate breakfast, that I should be able to work those small muscles back into shape if I could spend four or five days doing nothing but focusing on their recovery. That meant I would need a need a cheap and hospitable place to work, uninterrupted, for those four or five days. I thought of Horsunlu, where I had been a couple of days before. The people had been friendly and the public park had been a comfortable place to spend the night. Most of the villagers were at work during the day, so I could work my foot during the day when no one was around to distract me. Horsunlu was probably my best bet.
When I finished eating I grabbed my pack from the lobby and hobbled across the street to catch the mini-bus back to Horsunlu, covering in just half an hour what had taken me a full day to walk.
The small village of Horsunlu is laid out in a rectangle along the roadside. There were a couple of places where the bus could drop me off. I didn’t know Horsunlu well as I had walked through it only once, so I had the driver pull over at the first stop. He got off the bus with me and went to the back and pulled out my backpack. I put it on and hobbled off the main highway and down the main sideroad in Horsunlu.
The village was alive with festivity. It was weekly market day, and tents were set up alongside the road where shopkeepers sold items such as T-shirts, dried figs, spices, and cheap plastic kitchenware from China. I felt alone. People were milling around me everywhere having fun. I hobbled along desperately, full of self-pity, unsure of what I should do next.
As I passed the main tea garden, I spotted the familiar faces of people I’d met when in Horsunlu before. They called me over.
“Welcome back to Horsunlu!”
“Just couldn’t resist us, huh?”
“We missed you!”
“Thank you,” I replied as I pulled up a chair and joined them at the table. I waved the waiter over to bring me a cup of tea.
“What brings you back to Horsunlu so soon?” they wanted to know.
“Well, my foot hurts,” I said, “and I need a few days to rest it up. Is it okay if I stay in the public park there?” I pointed over to the nice grassy park where I had stayed a couple of nights before.
“Sure, of course you can stay there again. We’re happy to have you!”
I was very happy to be back in Horsunlu. I had only seen these people once before for one night, but I’d felt so welcome here that it quickly seemed a second home.
After finishing my tea, I picked up my pack, hobbled the 200 meters to the park, and set up camp under the same tree as before.
At the end of the day I was beginning to feel a little more confident that at least now I was in the right place and tomorrow I would wake up and start working my foot back into shape.