Heading east in 1907, Gertrude arrived in Dinar, a small Western Anatolian town which played a starring role in Jeremy seal’s masterly travelogue, Meander, as the source of the famously winding river. On the whole Gertrude rarely wasted much time on natural attractions, her main interest being man-made remains especially of the Byzantine era. Here, however, she proved second only to Seal in her interest in the local waters, venturing out to inspect the sources not only of the Meander but also of the Marsyas and several other streams.
Arriving here I had hoped to avoid treading on Seal’s literary toes but found myself directed nonetheless to the exact same river-loving local lawyer as he. And just as he had done for Seal, so now Mehmet Özalp did for me, immediately pushing aside the legal business of the day to take me in search first of the remains of once grand Apamea and then of the streams..
Little did I realise when I started out on this trip how much time I would spend inspecting railway stations that Bell had passed through and then poking about in their surrounds in search of lost hotels. Without Mehmet Bey, however, I would undoubtedly have missed the traces of Apamea that had ended up in the station concourse, most particularly a Latin inscription that now stands on its side forming part of the station fountain.
Afterwards we took off around town in search of assorted waterway sources, the most impressive being that of the Marsyas where Mehmet and his wife Pınar have established a small museum. The story of the satyr who challenged Apollo to a musical competition, only to win a very Pyrrhic victory when the god reacted to his defeat by having Marsyas flayed alive, is particularly gruesome so it was odd to find the source of the river now serving as a playground for local families who come here to paddle pedaloes, drink tea, picnic and generally make merry.
Mehmet Bey persuaded me that the true source of the Meander is now dry but to make up for that fact he showed me a curious double spring at Ilıca that had caused Gertrude some confusion. From there we drove to the rather grim tea garden built around the source of the Incirli Suyu. And there to my delight I saw on the wall a reproduction of the black and white photograph taken on the same spot by Bell in 1907 and showing her man-servant Fattuh. It was one of those exquisite moments when truly I knew that I was following in her footsteps.