Friday, 13 June 2008

Pilgrimage from Izmit to Sapanca 10/06/08

Last night Ahmed pointed out a shop which sells maps but he didn't think it opened till 9 or 10am, so I have a good excuse to sleep in again :)

Heading down at 09:30 I find the same thing I have found everywhere in Turkey, 1:10000 scale maps of the cities, and 1:2500000 scale maps of Turkey...nothing in between :( I already have a 1:250000 map which is good to give me a rough idea of where I should go but it doesn't give me any small roads or distances.

Spotting an internet cafe on he edge of town I decide to have one last attempt at burning my audio CDs. I bought a language program off the internet which Microsoft thought necessary to encode so it can only be played with Media Player. Wonderful idea! And like all software security measures it seems to only cause normal people headaches without achieving much more...

The kids working here speak perfect English and understand my problem straight away. They are more than happy to take up the challenge of getting it to play on my Mac.

So, sure enough, Microsoft's multi-million dollar encoding system takes three kids two hours and ten audio CDs to find away around. Money well spent Bill! ;)

And now I am happy to say I can start learning Turkish! About time!!!

It's after 12 noon before I get moving again and my path is straight down the highway. Feeling a bit peckish an hour later I stop at a bakery for a snack only to be greeted by these two cute young uni students working inside. Now I am really wishing my Turkish lessons started a few weeks ago ;)

They can hardly speak any English so we all just giggle away trying to communicate and after half an hour I figure I better get going...

But God had other intentions...30m down the road I'm confronted by a massive boom of thunder followed shortly by rain starting to bucket down. I run back inside seeking shelter with the two young maidens, their smiles cheer me up immensely.

Now I don't know if it was God trying to strike me down for having impure thoughts or what, but as I go to drop my bag there is a huge flash outside and we are rocked to the bones by a massive bang reverberating through everything. We all just stare at each other, eyes almost popping out of our heads and then rush to the door to see what was hit. The whole village is peering out onto the street with the same intentions, but everything looks normal, whatever it was must now be dust :)

After another couple of hours of giggling with the girls the rain eases off and I once again make an attempt to leave, unfortunately this time successfully.

I make 5kms before the weather turns bad again, this time though I figure I better just keep walking. It's already after 4pm and I have only made 10kms. Getting on all my rain gear I get back into it. The rain is absolutely hammering down and as I reach the outskirts of the next village a guy yells out and waves at me to come and take shelter.

I'm glad for stopping because I get to meet one of the only people so far who fully gets what I am doing right from the start...

"Where you going?"

I point down the road "Sampanca" The next major town, about 15kms away.

"Aaaah, Philistine (Palestine)?" He says while pointing in the same direction...

"Yes, Philistine"

He smiles and nods slightly like he wasn't expecting anything less :) I suppose there can't be too many reasons for someone walking around in this weather, and a pilgrimage makes more sense than most...maybe??? ;)

Five minutes later the rain starts to clear and Ishmail invites me down to a cafe. As soon as I sit down I'm presented with a big cup of coffee to warm my bones. Ishmail looks slightly concerned and disappears with his friend, returning five minutes later he has just bought me a new shirt and his friend is bearing dinner! Champions!!! :)

So, dry and well fed I get back into it. Thanks guys!!!

It starts to get dark as my road leads me into the foothills of Central Turkey. The fields and factories give way to forrest and I can tell it's going to be a nice walk to Ankara. Twice on the way to Sapanca I get dragged in for tea and all the caffein is starting to make me feel a bit wired. The plan was to get a hotel but I'm thinking I won't be getting to sleep any time soon, so I might as well keep walking.
Around 11pm the road starts running along the edge of the highway and is fenced both sides! Not a good sign for camping :(

Spotting a path I go for a look, only to find with all the rain we just had I'm wading through mud! Not very pleasant so I backtrack to the tar. A small dirt road meets mine and I decide even if I have to walk an extra kilometer it will probably be quicker to find a spot than the road I'm on. Once again it is fenced both sides but after 300m I see it ending at a perfect paddock. I'll be in view of the farm house so I will have to get up early, but it's better than nothing...

Dropping my bag must have made a bit too much noise, two farm dogs start up about 100m away. I can see by the street lights they are not chained and are heading my way. Wonderful!

The backpack goes back on and arming myself with a big rock I start to retreat. Luckily this keeps them happy and they don't get too close...

Twenty minutes later this town appears, probably not a good place to camp... ;)

More muddy paths, more dogs and one and a half hours later I still haven't found a decent spot! And I think I'm starting to go a bit delirious. It's 1am and I'm tempted to just sleep in a bus shelter but then as my road crosses the highway a big clearing appears ahead. Thank God for that! :)

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