Turkey Part I – The Land of Hospitality & Learning to be Dirty

Across into Asia

We took the eight-hour overnight ferry from Piraeus, Athens, to the large Greek island of Chios. I felt like an over-excited child, unable to sleep at the beginning of an adventure, in the narrow bunk bed on a gigantic boat for the night. We arrived bleary eyed at the port of Chios at 5am. We stood for a while in the glow of the streetlights, limbs reminded of our weighty bicycles. We were unsure what to do with ourselves until our next ferry at 8am to mainland Turkey.

We followed the main throng of people that were emerging from the ferry and down a waterside road. Luckily a café was open at this early hour and we could sit for a while at a window seat with coffee and croissants while watching the bikes just outside. As the morning light was beginning its ritual painting of the sky, I double-checked the details of the short ferry ride to Cesme, Turkey. I looked again and again, tired and disbelieving. There was now no ferry today and wouldn’t be another for two days time. Oh.

So we were “stuck” on the island of Chios for a tiny two-day enforced holiday. We had a great time pretending to be normal holidaymakers. We stayed in a dirt-cheap Air B&B and explored a small area of the island around the Chios main town. One afternoon, we took a bus further south on the island to walk amongst ancient olive trees and eat our packed lunch on a crumbling stone wall.

It was a peaceful, slow start to the next leg of our journey.
It provided a wonderful false sense of security for things yet to come.

Chios to Cesme

We left our bedsit for the ferry port very early in the morning and mounted our bikes in the type of torrential rain that soaks through to your underwear in five seconds flat. Nearly blinded by the rain and dawn dim-light, we managed to find the harbour and the tiny waiting room for the border check office.

To our amazement, one after another, six long-distance cyclists and all their bikes and bags came through the narrow doorway. We filled up the entire waiting room, dripping rainwater onto the lino, forming large puddles. We greeted each other, giggling at the state of all of us. There were two Canadian couples and a French couple on a tandem. The border control woman took her position on a high stool inside her glass booth and subtly rolled her eyes at the look of our motley biker crew.

After a very minimal effort bag check from security which was just a few questions, we were allowed to walk outside. It was then that we were confronted with what was supposed to be the ferry. It was a tiny, very rusty looking boat. It looked more like a miniature fishing boat than a ferry. We all pilled on. Filling the entire railing perimeter of the lower deck with our bikes. We lashed them on tightly with whatever came to hand as the boat rocked queasily from side to side. The rain maintained its strength and it slowly dawned on all of us, sat in the harbour that this may be a bumpy ride.

Cut to twenty minutes later and every passenger on board is a delightful shade of pistachio. We opted to stand at the back, bracing ourselves with firm handholds and bent knees, after realising that the front of the boat was the most sick-making. The bow was lurching up into the air and crashing back down hard into the swell. All of the passengers on board were giving each other worried glances and murmuring groans of discomfort. At one point two elderly, grey haired women, eyes closed, white knuckles clinging onto the seat in front, let out a shriek of fear as the boat smashed down worryingly hard into the raging sea. We were all thrown out of our seats and given a very good thrashing by that sea. The toilets definitely got full usage. An hour later we arrived at the port of Cesme. This was the first time I had stepped onto Turkish land and I can tell you I was happy about it.

Hospitality

The first Warmshowers host that we stayed with near Urla, Turkey was a perfect introduction to Turkish hospitality. From the moment we arrived we felt totally welcomed into their home and their family life.
Devrim, Ilke and their daughter Doja, had us to stay for two nights. Devrim, a psychology teacher at a local secondary school, was a jazz fanatic and a very interesting, open man. His wife Ilke, was a wonderful woman. She worked as a psychiatrist with refugees, vulnerable women and children who had been affected by trauma. Doja was a very creative girl and gave us an intense performance of her Taekwondo routine. There is something quite magical about being totally welcomed into a new family with real warmth and sincerity.

After the first day, they had treated us to many Turkish culinary delights so as a thank you, we offered to cook for them on our second night. We made an elaborate Indian feast, which was wonderful to share with them. It surprised me how excited they were to eat Indian food considering their global proximity to India in comparison to England. However, Ilke told me that regardless of their geographical positioning, Turkey doesn’t have many East Asian cuisines available and sticks mainly to its own traditional food. We are unusual in the UK to have such a global diet. I assume it is not just the fruit of immigration but also a bittersweet benefit of a colonial past, greed and acquisition.

When it was time for us to leave, Devrim arranged for us to stay with a contact of his in Sigacik, in a glamping caravan site. We were so chuffed that he was organising our onward connections!

We thanked Devrim and Ilke for all their kindness and once we had left, we stopped by at Doja’s primary school as it was on the way to say goodbye to her. Devrim had suggested it. We ended up telling her whole class about our trip. I don’t think they understood a word we said but it made us all laugh!

We cycled into a head wind all day but didn’t really mind as we were enjoying being back in the saddle again. Wind and sun on our faces, road slipping by under our tires, a new country greeting our eyes and ears.

By early evening, we arrived at the bike shop where Devrim had arranged for us to meet with our new host, Can. We were welcomed very warmly by him and his wife, Gaye, who owned the bike repair shop and cafe. They had been sculptors in the city of Ankara but chose to start a new life when their daughter was born, so moved to the West coast and followed their bicycle and coffee related dreams instead. Can was so welcoming and invited us in for coffee and cake while he carried on working. Then at dusk we picked up beers from a small corner shop and Can led the way, cycling in front, to the glamping site.

We cycled down a long dirt track as it started to spit with rain. As we emerged into a large field we saw different coloured caravans crouching in the dusky field. They were only just visible through the dark. The rain was now pouring down and the wind was raging.

Can led us into the shelter of a gazebo, illuminated with fairy lights, the thick plastic-sheet walls buffeted by the gale. The inside was packed with four smiling people, lots of beer and a tall, glowing heater. Heaven. We shared hugs and beers and questions.

We sat and talked and drank and shared music late into the night. I felt so lucky in that moment that the Turkish hospitality chain was continuing. They explained that the Turkish people, living on the bridge between Europe and Asia, have been hosts to the travellers of the world for hundreds of years. The Turks used to be a nomadic people so have great respect for pilgrims, travellers and the pursuit of adventure.

It was such a treat to feel completely welcomed by total strangers and offered so much. I had a moment of realising that none of us are really ever that different to each other and kindness is always the bridge that can bond. It is more disillusioned to be suspicious of those we meet, than to welcome new people into our minds and lives as openly as a natural extension of our family. What a poignant lesson to be taught by the Turks.

– – –

Another example of incredible hospitality happened on a morning when our MSR burner wouldn’t work for breakfast. We had run out of gas. After eating just bread and jam and drinking some water, we cycled along a beautiful quiet road to a tiny isolated village. We asked a man if there was somewhere we could get a hot coffee. He started giving us very complicated directions in Turkish and then at the sight of our baffled faces, paused for a moment. He pointed to his chest and said – Nescafé? We looked at him. He beckoned us over to his door shouting ‘Nescafé! Nescafé!’ After he had changed out of his dirty farmer’s overalls, we followed him into his house.

I have to admit, I had a moment of unease sat on his sofa, in his very quiet, bare looking house with a small TV set in the corner showing security camera images from outside. It was quickly evident that he didn’t speak a word of English and he insisted that we wash our hands before coming into the living room. I perched on the edge of the large, dowdy sofa, picking my hands. Lots of rustling proceeded in the kitchen.

We looked at each other – what was he doing? He brought a blanket into the living room and laid it on the floor, saying something in Turkish. Then a low, round table with foldout legs was erected in the middle. Out came three curved-glass Turkish teacups. And then after more rustling, a huge pot of tea, scrambled eggs, a mountain of bread, black olives, honey, three different types of cheese, tomatoes, and cherry jam were all laid out on the table. Wow! We were so surprised! What generosity from a total stranger! We waited for him to come and sit down with us to eat but he gestured that he had already eaten and just drank some tea. So this entire feast was just for Haydn and me! My suspicions and awkwardness were immediately refuted.

We spoke through Google translate and discovered that all the food on the table was his own family produce. He was a farmer called Rifek. His wife made goslema (a delicious Turkish delicacy of flatbread filled with spinach, potato and cheese) in a town further away. They had two children. He kept telling us to eat more and more in Turkish until we were absolutely stuffed. He poured round after round of tea. After we had completely stuffed ourselves, we began to clear away but he stopped us immediately and took us out onto his balcony over-looking the village and mountains beyond.

We wrote a message thanking him for his generosity and kindness and said that we should probably leave. He looked like a light bulb had pinged on behind his eyes and shouted – No, Nescafé! More rustling and clanging from the kitchen. After a cup of Nescafé 3in1, we made to leave and he stopped us and offered for us to stay at his house that night and drink beer with him. We said that he was very kind but we should carry on a bit further as we had a good wind and we hadn’t managed to get very far today. He said we could always come back and we would be welcome.

Then finally he said we had to try wild-mountain-thyme tea. We shared one cup between us. It was delicious. He gave me some dried sprigs to take with me. We didn’t know how to thank him enough. Lastly, he showed us his heard of cows that had a special cow-sized-automatic-bum-scratcher inside the barn, which looked like a giant, rotating loo-brush. Hilarious. We thanked him again and finally we left, feeling very full and very well looked after.

After that, the hospitality just didn’t seem to show any signs of dissipating.

We had been grubbing it for 5 days in the wild. So many cups of chai had been offered to us and not even with the desire for conversation. Just left in our hands as the provider wandered off to go about their business.

While cycling a scenic route in the South Western quarter of Turkey, around Lake Burdur, we needed more supplies after rest day. We made a detour into a small town. I asked a young man fixing a tractor, if there was a shop nearby in my best Turkish. The young man looked blank. We signalled, hand to mouth ‘food’ and he said to wait. Disappearing into a nearby door, he then returned a moment later, smiling, to beckon us into the courtyard of his family home. We were told to sit at a plastic white table and chairs in the bright sunlight of the muddy yard. A kind old woman with hips like stiff wooden wheels, brought tea, gozlema flatbread and special crumbly Turkish cheese with black onion seeds.

We thanked the woman and ate hungrily. We spoke as much as language would allow with anyone who wanted to talk to us from the house, all men. They sat observing us in patio chairs, all smoking. They wanted to know our names, where we were from, if we were married, where we had cycled from, where we were going, how we had enough money to travel, where we slept, if we had children, how old we were. So many questions!

We asked the best English speaking man to teach us how to say some more words and phrases in Turkish. Then after a while everyone left to go about their business and we cleared away what we had on the table.

We wanted to say thank you to the women who had provided us with nourishment. So we walked around the corner with the tray, where we thought they might be. A very old woman gestured for us to put the tray down and led us through a doorway ajar. Inside was a dimly lit room with a furnace raging inside a whole in the back brick wall. It made the room intensely hot and glow with a golden-red dancing light. All the women of different ages, were sat on the compacted-dirt floor with large round wooden boards balanced on top of their crossed legs. They were making and rolling out balls of dough. It was a wonderfully intimate production line. A huge pile of gozlema breads sat in the middle of them like a towering shrine, waiting for the oven. All their hands were covered in sticky dough. They all smiled at us when we said thank you and nice to meet you in Turkish. So here were all the women! It felt like witnessing a moment of ancient history. The room seemed no different from what may have been there thousands of years before.

– – –

One day when we set off at 7:30am, we were offered tea three times before lunch! One by a truck driver in a layby who gave us tea and Nutella bread, out of a fold down table attached to the side of his truck. Later, we heard a shout of TEA from the side of the road and ended up sipping piping hot tea surrounded by a group of very serious business men in an office, who sat smoking in silence. Then when we stopped for lunch some men at a petrol station gave us our third cup of the day. People would just shout TEA or CHAI at you from the side of the road when they saw that you were a cycling traveller. So much tea in one day! So many wees needed after! This constant offering of tea and company and care created an incredible sense of trust while traveling in Turkey. We felt like we were being looked after all the time. Whenever I said to Haydn – I think I fancy a tea break now – another offer would be shouted from the roadside. Amazing!

– – –

Another kindness in Turkey came in regards to money. So many times, people would see that we were travelling by bicycle and they wouldn’t let us pay for what we wanted. At a petrol station in middle Turkey somewhere, we used the toilet and filled up our water bottles which is always allowed for free in Turkey. A man from the office came out and offered us the usual free petrol station chai out of a giant urn next to the pumps. I was never sure if this was free for anyone or just free for truckers and we were allowed special bike-trucker status.

We sat in his office with him and two other men. Then we asked to go into the shop next door. We gathered some things that we needed for the next couple of days and he watched. Then when we tried to pay for them, he refused! We were shocked. We insisted. So did he. We thanked him very much and then said we needed some petrol too for our stove. He filled up our container and refused to let us pay for that either! Wow! What generosity.

All of these experiences and many more left us feeling totally humbled and amazed at the extreme kindness of the Turkish people.

Kindness of Farmers

As we were camping nearly the entirety of our journey across Turkey, the largest country we had traversed, farmers became much more a part of our lives than Haydn or I could have imagined.

One day in middle Turkey we found a scrubby looking field just far enough away from a railway line and slept really well there. We were very tired, so fell asleep at about 8:30pm and woke at 7am. You can sleep for that long but still want to lie in for longer in the morning. That’s deep tiredness for you. You have to sit bolt upright and start thinking about coffee to get everything moving.

When we were eating breakfast, we saw a small white van driving into the top of the field that we were camped in. A young man and eight elderly women in headscarfs and hareem pants got out. Hayds went over and spoke to the man to say we would be leaving soon and we hoped it was OK that we were here. He said no problem at all, shook Haydn’s hand and signalled that he would be back in a minute. He drove away and the eight women began working the field with hand tools. It was such an unusual sight to me, a young man employing eight elderly women to work his land! The farmer came back in the van shortly and walked over to the tent to give us cakes that he had gone to buy! So kind!

– – –

Another day, nearing Pamukkale, we had cycled a really beautiful long road that we seemed to have all to ourselves. The weather seemed to be becoming reliably warm and sunny each day and good winds were on our back. The scenery in all directions was becoming more mountainous and more wonderful as the kilometres went by.

We found our camp spot near dusk, off a dirt track far away from the main road where it just seemed to be just fields all around and no towns or houses. We were trying to avoid the infamous Turkish dogs that are usually white, the size of a Shetland pony and shit-a-brick-terrifying. As we were walking down the path we heard barking and saw a whole pack on the path up ahead. The alpha male kept barking at us while others stood back or slinked away. We stopped and thought about turning back. Camping near wild dogs isn’t too fun once it’d dark. A farmer approached in his tractor. He came to speak to us and wanted to show us that the dogs weren’t a problem. He picked up a stone and ran at the alpha male, shouting short, loud practiced sounds. The dogs all immediately turned and ran away across the fields. I could see a few had injured limbs. We thanked the farmer and kept walking.

We finally found a corner of a good flat field that didn’t look like anyone was growing crop there. We hugged right to the edge of the field and set up camp. We made dinner, ate, washed up, packed away and finally lay down exhausted at 8pm. By this time, it was pitch dark.

I had my most satisfying wet wipe wash to date, despite my haze of tiredness.

Then we heard a rumble getting closer and closer. We hoped it was something on the path that would pass us by, unnoticed. Then huge lights illuminated the tent. Shit. We had been seen. The noise was getting louder and louder. The light swaying away from the tent in the distance and then illuminating us again for a time. I didn’t want to open my eyes, never mind move. I just wanted the light and sound to fade away like a bad dream so I could sleep in peace. It got louder and louder. We sat up on our elbows. What was going on? Haydn unzipped his sleeping bag, the inner tent, the outer tent. Poked his head out. It looks like a tractor – he said – it looks like the farmer is mowing the field we are in. In the dark! What?! Haydn got some clothes on and clambered out to speak with the farmer.

Haydn and the farmer had conversations over Google Translate in the middle of the field, in the dark. The farmer said we should move to camp in his garden because of dangerous wild pigs and foxes. But Haydn insisted we’d camped lots before and knew we would be fine. Then he asked if we could move all our stuff to the bit of the field he had already mowed and Haydn said we had cycled all day and were very tired. Haydn suggested that we could leave at 6am if he would please let us stay where we were. The farmer agreed and thought it was all hilarious thank goodness. He wanted a selfie with Hayds in front of the tent. So we agreed not to move and he agreed to keep mowing. So he mowed around us.

It was a funny compromise where everyone got what they wanted and I was very proud of Haydn’s negotiating skills in a foreign language. It was unbelievably loud inside the tent when the tractor came past, only one metre away from my head! I didn’t allow myself to be scared and stubbornly refused to move my very tired body out of the tent to watch from safety. Hayds stayed outside laughing with another farmer to make sure the one driving the tractor didn’t snag our guy ropes or catch our bikes hidden underneath the tarp behind. It was the least peaceful evening we had ever had but it was better than angry dogs at midnight. And such a funny moment with a very tolerant farmer.

Turkish Landscapes

The Turkish landscape changed dramatically over its huge breadth and the cross section that we cycled through. From the stunning western coast, to arid flat dust land of middle Turkey to the lush green, tropical mountains towards the Black Sea.

There was a strange industrial landscape of factories all connected by long green pipes like the old game, Snake on Nokia or the green pipe Mario games. We went passed a big green funnel pumping constant huge plumes of white smoke up into the air. I finally found the machine that makes clouds.

In amongst the plumes there was a nest on top of a telephone pole. Two huge back and white birds , that looked like a type of stork, sat on top guarding their chicks. They did a special dance when we were near. Clattering their beaks and throwing back their necks.

Then there was the magical landscape of Pamukkale, an ancient town in western Turkey, Denizli. Its bright blue mineral-rich thermal waters flow down white travertine terraces that form a whole hillside of white. We walked up the hillside, once removing our shoes and bathed our feet in the warm, blue mineral water that flows down in streams and sits in huge azure pools. At the top of the hill was Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 B.C. We walked amongst ruins of a well-preserved theatre and a necropolis with sarcophagi that stretch for 2km.

Then we decided to be proper tourists and go for a swim in Cleopatra’s Antique Pool, famous for its healing properties, 36dedgree heat by geothermal activity and submerged Roman columns, the remnants of an ornate roof that was destroyed in a 7th century earthquake. According to legend, this artificially sculpted pool was a gift from Marc Anthony to Cleopatra. It was incredible to float in what resembled warm champagne as the thermal waters created tiny air bubbles all around us. Bubbles clung and danced along our skin as we swam over the giant marble columns.

– – –

A very surreal sight across middle, agricultural Turkey was the all-blue pesticide men. They rode blue tractors and wore blue jackets and hats. We often saw them painting the trees blue with huge mist sprayers. The blue pesticide that they painted the trunks of the trees with created a stunning contrast to the beautiful explosions of blossom on top. Pink cherry blossom and the bright white flowers of pear or almond trees illuminated the landscape with a soft serenity. Sometimes the blue pesticide would colour an entire field and all the tree trunks so the vibrant blossom appeared to levitate between cerulean ground and sky.

– – –

The wind also became very exciting in Turkey. If it was facing us we could almost be stopped in our tracks, it was so hard to push against. But if it was at our backs we could reach speeds like never before! Sometimes it was so strong that it pushed us on a slight uphill at 25km an hour with no pedalling at all! It felt like sailing! It was one of the biggest highs of the whole trip. A moment when I felt that nature itself was helping us along. Literally pushing us upwards and onwards. I think the record on my odometer was a downhill where I reached 62km an hour. And Haydn was going faster than me!

– – –

In central Turkey we found ourselves in a very bleak landscape. We cycled for three whole days through totally flat, desolate plains where we could see the horizon on all sides. Apparently it was farmland but we couldn’t see any lush crops or any crops at all for that matter. There were almost no trees, shrubs or plants of any kind. There were just very small, isolated villages dotted along the road, far apart, that we could see from miles away, with one winding dusty road that connected them.

It was an unnerving place to cycle as the lack of any vegetation or life, breeds an underlying sense of wrongness in being there. The brain just reads – not enough resources to sustain life – get out!

It was upsetting to see how utterly human beings had demolished the natural environment and replaced it with an uninhabitable one through ignorance and greed. I kept thinking – why get rid of nearly all the trees, all the hedges, all other plants? Now there is no shade, no beauty, no life. Now there is nowhere for any other animal to live and survive. It felt like staring humankind’s blindness in the face. Our complete arrogance in thinking our needs come first and disregarding any value in other plants or animals, then ironically leading to our own demise. We seem to overlook that we are just another animal, one species in this huge web of being.

Biodiversity is necessary to our own wellbeing but we seem to forget that when scraping for every bit of land we can possibly make money from. Have we really evolved and grown any wiser since those tree chopping people of Easter Island? Why are there not global laws in place to maintain pockets of rich biodiversity amongst vast stretches of farmland? Not just as a stewardship exercise but for our own benefit too.

I kept hearing the beautiful song of only one type of bird while we were cycling those long dirt tracks, I think they were Eurasian skylarks. They can build a nest in a burrow or shallow depression on open ground, well away from trees, bushes and hedges. They seemed to be the only animals equipped to survive this desolate landscape but god knows what they ate.

– – –

As we rode into Cappadocia, high end tourism appeared out of the surreal, desert-like landscape as an oddity. The word Cappadocia translates as ‘land of the well bread horses’ and is famous as a place to go on horse riding treks in Turkey. Unfortunately, the translation has lost its validity nowadays. People who have no interest in caring for the animals, lash starving horses out in the baking sun all day with no food or water, hoping to make money out of rich foreigners with a ride or posed Instagram photo. It needs to be renamed as ‘land of the sad, starved horses in the name of tourism’. It was pretty distressing to see how awfully they were treated and how so many stupid people paid for them to be in that condition.

While in Cappadocia, we stayed in funny guesthouse with sweet, mad woman. We wondered around and saw the touristy sites. It was an incredibly beautiful, astoundingly surreal landscape. Incredible history! The region is characterised by extraordinary natural wonders. The semi-arid landscape is pierced by rock formations that protrude into the air as tall, thin spires, named ‘fairy chimneys’ or ‘hoodoos’. The regions ancient inhabitants carved hundreds of churches and dwellings down into the rock which have now been revealed by erosion.

The ancient people of Cappadocia built 36 underground cities which were excavated and expanded over the centuries as various marauding armies traversed Central Anatolia in search of captives and plunder. They were essentially whole cities underground in which inhabitants could exist for long periods of time during a siege on ground level. Many large tunnels, huge storage rooms, churches, living quarters and ventilation shafts were all carved out of the soft volcanic rock. In Derinkuyu, the deepest in Cappadocia, tunnels and rooms descend 9 levels and 200ft below the surface.

I found it a completely fascinating and enchanting landscape but wished it had been kept a better secret as it had become very commercial and there were just too many tourists everywhere which unfortunately always slightly dulls something of great wonder. However, this did mean that I could see some incredible treasures in all the shops aimed at the tourist trade …

On our last morning, the mad guesthouse woman woke us up at sunrise (without us asking her to) to see another wonder of Cappadocia. We were only grateful that she had, when we stepped out onto the roof terrace and saw hundreds of different coloured hot air balloons rising slowly into the sky, above the amazing fairy chimney desert land, the sun just beginning to rise. It was breath-taking.

Learning to be Dirty

I think it was when we were nearing middle Turkey that we finally started learning to accept a new level of dirtiness. We found a good secluded camp spot overlooking Lake Burdur and decided to have a rest day there. Camping every night for sometimes more than a week and deciding to take rest days in the tent, leads to three things. Being relaxed, spending next-to-no money and becoming very grubby indeed.

I sat and read for nearly the whole of that day off. It felt so good to move as little as possible and there is something very reassuring about reading in your own language when you’re hearing and trying to speak in another language all the time. I was also staying particularly still because I was transfixed by ‘The Power’, an incredible science fiction novel by Naomi Alderman. It was the first book I had ever read where every chapter that went by, I wished harder that I had written it.

I lay there gobbling up the book and deciding that I needed to embrace the power and feminism of being dirty. I had felt since being a teenager that much of my power was tied up in being attractive. The world teaches girls that being desirable is the most important aspiration and much of reality sadly adheres to that. I touched my greasy hair and slightly gritty-sticky skin, studied the dark edges of my fingernails, small streaks of black bike oil on my hands and calves, smelt my several days worn clothes. I realised then that it’s part of the journey, part of the learning process. Learning to be grateful for my working, healthy body and what it is capable of. I had to learn not to feel ashamed of myself while being dirty and unpresentable. The trip was making me realise my other powers, more valuable ones.

That all being true, one thing I still found tough was pooing in the wild. It still felt wrong. I kept thinking someone was going to burst out of the bushes and tell me off like a teacher – ‘Molly Haywood Newberry what on earth do you think you’re doing!’ I get this guilty feeling that it just stays there when I go away, rather than shooting away down a nice clean pipe and disappearing.

Late morning and we heard sheep bells chiming nearby. Haydn spontaneously ran over to the shepherd to ask if he wanted a cup of tea. He came over with the whole herd and talked with us in broken English for a while as the sheep all stood chewing around us. He said we could come and get water from his place further down towards the lake. We wandered down later with all our vessels. We found a rudimentary shack which turned out to be his fathers place with a bleak and beautiful view of the lake. After a little bit of attempted chat and a Nescafe 3in1, we sat in silence with the shepherd’s brother and another farmer type chap with only eight fingers. Just looking at the view. After about an hour we rose to leave and the brother offered us two big glass jars, one of their own peaches in syrup and one of white cherries. Very heavy but very generous gifts! We thanked them and left carrying all the heavy water and our two jars of fruit. They said we were always welcome back.

You never know what is around the corner on this journey, that’s the absolute joy of it.

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Thanks for reading! The madness of Turkey Part II is coming soon …

One Reply to “Turkey Part I – The Land of Hospitality & Learning to be Dirty”

  1. Another fantastic blog, Molly!
    Such heart warming tales of kindness and such vivid descriptions of the landscape and your experience of being on the road. Really beautiful photos too! Watched a heart breaking documentary about Syrian refugees in Lesbos last night. Every word you write every pedal you turn is for such an incredibly good cause. Well done! I continue to be so very proud of you both. And looking forward to the next instalment! Xxxx

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