Todays double feature Volume 1 - Article from 10th of July - published today

Lesson in Mythology - Feel like Sisiphos!

Fatih and Zenip, my Istanbul hosts, completely refilled my batteries. I still don't know how to thank! I had a lot of delicious food these days. On Saturday, Fatih even dropped me and my bike in Sile (60 km north of Istanbul on the black sea), saving me from cycling through Istanbuls's traffic hell again. There, the 4-lane Highway suddenly becomes a neat curvy road along the coast. That, by the way, is an interesting phenomenon around the cities. Suddenly, the road becomes wide and you find yourself squeezed in heavy traffic and passing 4 power plants in 10 minutes, but out of a sudden everything disappears and you can "enjoy" the lonely dusty road again - up and down, never ever flat. The worst part so far was

between Eregli and Cide, where I am now. The traffic is low, but the slopes are killing me. 20% ramps on roads in bad conditions is turkish standard. The road seal is either bumpy or oozing, you can hardly call it sealed. Yesterday - actually a good and long day on the bike - gave me 60 km on the road (maybe 30 km straight distance). 30 min up, 3 min down, then start all over again. No mercy.

Deal with the dogs
Yesterday I spent noon under a tree, sleeping for 2 hours to avoid the worst heat. I couldn't catch a lot of sleep in the night before since I had to defend my belongings against 6 curious little puppies that were entering my tent, making aweful noise, chewed on the tent fabric, stole my shoes and so on. I tried to scare the hell out of them, but screaming, waving and hitting them with the water bottle didn't show any effect whatsoever. Thus, I started grabbing them on their neck and throwing them out, but they kept coming back. Funny and annoying, these fearless creatures. The only thing I achieved was that the bitch got really nervous and irritated and didn't stop barking. Next day, I found my shoes all over the place, with holes and quite dirty. Also, the tent suffered a bit: A hole in the fly (luckily at the tip of the apsis, where it doesn't matter), and a piece of strap is missing.
Generally, turkish dogs are friendly. And abundant. And free. And have annoying habits: they sleep under cars or trees during daytime, but in the night, when the temperatures are lower, they sneak around, get startled by the smallest thing and bark for hours.
Sometimes, you encounter dangerous ones. Yesterday a huge dog attacked me from the right side. Due to heavy traffic I could not escape to the left, so in panic I just lifted my right leg and hit his face with a determined kick. I even had the impression that some bone or tooth cracked. That felt kind of good. Just hope he learned from it.

Being a foreigner in Turkey
Anyway - After these 2 hours of sleep I hit the road again - just to be stopped 2 minutes later by a worker, when passing a gas station: He shouted in German: "Hey, where are you from, come in, stop for a while, have some tea, have a little chat". I managed to escape after 2 Cays and 20 minutes later, cycled again for 10 minutes, and then decided to get some groceries from a small Süpermarket. Next door was a tiny electrical shop and the owner and his friend were curious about my trip and invited me for another Cay. On the road again, not even 2 minutes went away when I was caught by another cyclist, the owner of a bicycle shop I just passed. He offered me help and drinks and asked me to turn over and visit his shop. Getting kilometres done is hard. Refusing invitations is also hard. Many people are very persistent with their offer and have a warm and big heart. Together with a Belgian cyclist which I met along the way, I got 3 invitations for dinner on the same day. We had to decline the first two since the day just started. The third one I did not expect. In Eregli, we were looking for a place to pitch the tent. A man recommended a meadow in the mountains above the village. When we walked our bikes on that ridiculously steep road, we were accompanied by a bunch of kids, laughing and shouting all at once. It was not really a sneaky passage through that village, and soon after, the entire village knew of these funny strangers that were going to sleep up there. Eventually, we found an even place for the tents and I started to cut an onion for dinner under the supervision of 12 kids when a man showed up, chased all but 3 kids away, and literally dragged us to his family's house, where we had dinner with his parents and 3 brothers. After that, we had a long conversion with google translator on their phones. "How many siblings?" "Are you married?" "Age?" "Charging needs?" "Purpose of the trip?", "What is your considerations?" and some other questions that didn't make a lot of sense (because of the translation algorithms, I hope). We learned that they never left turkey, and which areas in turkey are safe and where to stay away from.

Yesterday evening, I went to a remote "Pansyon" on the cute little Gideros bay and asked if I can pitch my tent there and what it would cost. "Tent is for free", the woman replied. She was painting wooden furniture with some kind of tar paint, but I had the impression that she was rather painting herself instead of the benches. She explained that she had to prepare the place for the crowds of people she is expecting for after Ramadan. Since she seemed to be in distress facing a lot of work, and in exchange for the free stay, I decided to give her a hand and painted the benches for her. She accepted my help right away, and after half an our, she was ready to adopt me and asked if I want to be her son. "I already have a mother, in Germany", I replied laughing. We agreed that whenever I am in Turkey, she is my Turkish mother.

The most exciting encounter was at the place with the little puppies (see above). It was a filthy and stinky dirt place right next to a waste dump in Amasra, just out of sight for the tourists. I didn't pay attention to a container located 50 m away on top of a concrete platform until a man and 3 kids passed me and went to the container, which was obviously  their... you can hardly call it "home". They waved from the platform and wanted me to come around. In front of the container, on the platform, there were a tiny B&W TV and two old sofas with a table. The container was divided into two "rooms": The "kitchen" consisted of an old flatiron table with some pans and a random collection of some dishes and cutlery, and in the "bedroom" I saw 3 filthy mattresses. They were having a huge cake for dinner and my interpretation is that it might have been a leftover of a pastry shop. Despite my fondness for fancy cakes, I refused to eat from it, but instead chewed some of the sunflower seeds they were offering, to symbolically accept the invitation. Then they brought some melon and a jar of pickles. I really didn't want to eat their food, so I pointed to my tent and made clear that I have food by myself, when I realized that it might be a good idea that I get my food over here and share it with them. I did so, and wanted to share, but likewise, they didn't touch it. So I ate my dinner there, after they had theirs, that was a bit awkward.
The boy was 9, and the girls were aged 10 and 13 and they were just beautiful. Another kid that was in between already died. I really did not understand their situation. They all seemed super happy and self confident, with sparkling eyes, and they had great fun with each other and me. For what it's worth, they were dressed nicely and clean. Especially the 10 year old was asking me tons of questions and speaking a lot. When I asked if they go to school, the father remarked that he brings them there with the car. When I asked if it gets cold in winter, they agreed but on the same time remarked that in winter they live somewhere else. All of these things did not fit the circumstances they were living in, in that container on the dumping site. Unfortunately, both my turkish and google translator were too poor to get any more information, or any proper conversation done. When I returned to my tent later, I deliberately left my food on their table. Still hungry, I ate a swiss roll with some dry bread I still had in my tent, hoping that they would appreciate my food, and then hoping that they wouldn't have to, and then I regret that I didn't learn any turkish before the trip.

It is crazy how welcoming the people are. Still, people that went through Turkey to Iran, always remarked the great hospitality of the Iran people, hardly acknowledging the Turkish. I can't imagine it right now to be yet stronger, sitting here on the sea, being fed by my turkish mother in her restaurant, and she doesn't want me to leave. Meanwhile, I got an idea of the reason for this behaviour. She complained about the turkish men, they were rude and machos, all of them. I would be different, smiling, happy and helpful. In fact, when I stood by the stove and was stirring her soup, another woman entered the kitchen and froze on the doorstep, totally confused by that man standing by the stove.

Apart from that:
Conspicuous: The same picture in every village: old men sit on the terrace of the only cafe, reading newspaper or playing, not consuming anything because of Ramadan.
Tip of the week: After you went to the barber, remember to put an extra layer of sunscreen on the newly exposed parts, otherwise you have to wear your undies on your head for at least 2 days, and that looks super silly.

Add comment

Security code