(December, 23th – January 14th)
We got Turkey the day before Christmas. We celebrated it next to Marmaris, wildly, by the fire.
Fortunately, Cuisin’situ was here to make this day more special than other.
We experienced first big cold on the Turkish roads. Snow, front north wind, iced roads, iced water in the bottles. By contrast, an incredible human heat cheered us up all along the way.
But first, let us tell you this special adventure…
One day, throughout the Izmir countryside, Anthony ’s tyre got punctured while the night was falling. No time to repair the tyre and reach the village before the night.We had to set up our camp right there.
9:00 pm, our tent is already frozen. It’s time to go inside, getting warm in our sleeping bags and read a book.
But few minutes later, we can hear a car that goes slower and stops. Voices. A flashlight is frantically lighting our tent from outside. OK. Someone saw us. The question is who is it and what is the problem ? Anthony goes out.
Outside, 4 guys from the village are standing with a lovely hunt gun. They are quite nice with Anthony but asking many things in turkish we cannot understand. Anthony tries to explain to them that we are tourists, and are staying here just for one night and that tomorrow we would be gone.
Then, they turn back to their car. Shot. OK, so the accessory was loaded.
Little by little we sober up and restored reading. 15 minutes later, once more, a car stops, flashlights are searching us. Turkish words. Once more, Anthony goes out, and, this time, it is the Jandarma (turkish gendarmerie). Their nice accessory is, this time, a machine gun.
Fortunately, important detail, one of them speaks english. Easy to explain why we are here, and that our camp is not a terrorist snow ball factory to assault the village while next call to prayer of the muezzin.
Out of the tent, totally frozen, we give them our passeports for checking. In fact, I think their main stress was that we catch cold. I think they thought we were crazy and laughed a lot when we told them we came from France with those small bicycles.
6:00 in the morning. Call to prayer. It resounds in the whole valley. We keep our eyes closed until the sunrise. True iced wind. Everything is flying around us. White sky.
Back on the road, once Anthony’s tyre repaired, totally frozen, we stop close to a place that looks like a café. From inside, a guy give us a sign to enter. We take a seat on the last two free chairs set around a powerful wood burning stove. We warm our hands. We order 2 teas. No one speak english but all the men sat around us are smiling! In their conversations, we quickly recognize the words « turists » and « jandarma ». New are quickly spreading in that region! Suddenly, 4 gendarmes enter in the « café » and we easily recognize our « friends » of the last night! From now, we can communicate in English and understand that pretty all these men are gendarmes and that actually, we found shelter in a Gendarmerie headquarter…
Of course, once more, the tea is for free. They are very kind and give us a card with their number phone in case of. And one of them really liked Anthony’s Brompton!
But, to return to our main topic.
Angriness drives revenge. But what we ignored is that kindness drives us to give back this love. It’s a little bit trivial but that’s what we really understood during our first month travelling. Sandra told us « It’s good to be good », same thing. Human heat against cold weather outside.
So, we first met the young deaf guy in a bus to escape from the rain. We (very easily) communicated with him making signs. He explained to us everything to know to take the bus in Turkey and waited 20 minutes by our sides, under the rain, our correspondance to not miss it.
There was also the boss of a small truck company who saw us sheltered from the iced wind in a bus stop. He invited us with great gesture to join his for the tea. Smiles, heater, hot tea, invitation for lunch, precious advices about the road to follow. We went out 30 minutes later warmed in our both bodies and spirits.
Louis, adorable german student in Izmir generously hosted us in his shared flat. We celebrated there New Year’s eve with many other joyful Erasmus students from whole Europe!
In Izmir, we also met Bora, Nese, and Can, their lovely son. They offered us the traveller « holly grail » : discovering the turkish family unit. Everything than none any 5 stars hotel can offer you.
From this invitation we discovered so many things to understand and live true turkish way of life. History, politics, religion, local driving, humor, climate… And all those « keys » that are essential to live better our trip. They offered us everything. By bicycle, Bora and Can led us to Izmir bazar, a kind of vernacular supermarket. Incredible, so charming! Then, we had big salted peanuts, fresh fruit juices and Kokoreç (a sandwich of grilled lamb intestines). We crossed the bay by boat, visited the fishermen market… We finished this incredible day with a joyful dinner with Bora and Nese’s friends and neighbors. Bora’s family travelled a little bit also. You can discover their adventures here : link to Bora’s blog
Then, we’d like to talk about Bircen. We met her at Soma, down the hospital she works, thanks to warmshower.org. She first hugged us… We talk then with the hands (and about 10 words in turkish and english) and she led us to her flat. She carried our stuff, SHE CARRIES OUR STUFF (no negotiation possible)! Then, she gave us the keys, towels, sheets (she lent us her bed). Her husband who is a pharmacist and was working at night, brought us « pides » (turkish pizza with meat), chicken, salad, fruits, many beverages, and then went back to work… All of that very quickly. Unexpected, dizzying, moving.
In the morning, at 8, Bircen came back, after a long night working to prepare us an amazing breakfast!
Boreks, olives, tomatoes, turkish tea, raspberry jam from her mother, honey, simit (circular little turkish bread)
She packed us a borek for lunch and escorted us by bicycle to the train station. She offered us a last tea. On the table at the café, there is a newspaper with a picture « je suis Charlie ». She put he hand on her heart and explains how sorry she is for us, for french people. And like many other turkish persons since this event, the waiter tried to explain us, with signs, that he is so sad and that, of course, that is not Islam.
Then, Bircen kiss us warmly. She said us goodbye even after the train started, until the last instant.
We finished our hospitality turkish tour at Istanbul, at our lovely friend’s Anne-Lise and Timur. Visiting stunning Istanbul during the day and french meals, red wine, clarinet, Armenian music and lot of fun at night !
All this kindness encourages us to question our usual ways, our spirit of giving to other. First, too much generosity put us in a uncomfortable position. We don’t know what to do, it embarrass us.
In our education, we learned to be able to give back what is given or refuse to « not disturb ».
Then, tired of fighting, realizing the beauty of what is happening, we « open the flood gates ».
Our ways are unsuitable to this situation. We let the balance occurring. In spite of us. So, we can see, understand, touch this virtuous circle. We change.