Friday, 13 June 2008

Pilgrimage from Sapanca to Alifuatpasa 11/06/08

Feeling much better after a good sleep, around 8am I make a move. The road leads me straight to Lake Sapanca and for the next 30 minutes I have a a beautiful view.

Stopping at the first cafe, they have a sign up indicating they have toasted sandwiches...

"Good morning, tea and toast please"

The guy looks slightly distressed and turns to one of the customers for help. It turns out he doesn't have any toasted sandwiches...

"No problem, just tea then"

The owner still isn't looking so happy, indicates for me to wait, then runs next door. When he returns he is smiling broadly and proceeds to set up a feast on the table. He has just bought two cheeses, bread, cucumber, tomato and olives! The two of them join me for breakfast and the customer turns to me...

"Where are you from?"


"Aaaaah, Australia" He grabs the salt shaker and plonks it down on the table in front of him "Australia!". He then grabs the pepper and places it a small distance away "Japan!" I'm thinking he is just trying to confirm I'm from Australia not Austria as he starts making motions like they are close...

"Yes, yes...Australia"

"Nihongo wakarimasuka?" (Do you speak Japanese?)

Laughing "Hai, wakaru!" (Yes). "Demo doshite anatamo hanaseru?" (But why do you?) Finding someone in the middle of Turkey who can speak Japanese but not any other language is not something I was expecting :)

It turns out he works for Toyota and has made a couple of trips to Japan. I spend the next half hour chatting away before taking my leave. And once again they don't let me pay :)

Twice more on the way through town I get stopped for tea, and then when asking for directions on the road out of town get invited in once more, this time to a barbers shop. The barber is super friendly and has a slightly crazy look in his eye. Sitting me down he pulls out a magazine and shows me an article of him shaving someone while hanging upside down from the roof. I've gotta get one of these!

I point to the picture and then to my face, indicating I want the same. Everyone in the shop starts to get excited and within a minute he has taken of his belt, climbed onto a pipe hanging from the roof and tied his legs on!

So here goes nothing!!!

I have to exercise a lot of self control not to laugh with his head floating before me and I'm surprised at the speed he gets the job done! Now I've seen everything :)

My road turns south and the people become friendlier and friendlier. I can't walk past a single cafe without getting waved inside! It's just one of those amazing days!
Sometimes there is even people waiting on the road for me to finish in one cafe so they can drag me straight into another! Awesome hospitality!

I get bought lunch, given fruit and shouted tea and coffee the whole day. It's great but it makes for slow going! By 5pm I have been walking constantly, when I can, and have still only made 10kms!

Finally I get a break in the shops and for the first time all day make a 5km stretch without stopping. The river valley I'm heading up is beautiful. Then in the middle of nowhere I guy comes out of a tin shed, spots me and waves me over.

He also makes me a pot of tea and I find out that he lives here driving the big machine in the picture. He use to live in town with his family before they were killed in an earthquake (probably the one in 1990) or possible a car accident. This is the story I came up with anyway after our 30 minute conversation, but he was probably just talking about his pet dog going for a swim last week... :)

Once again I only make it 100m farther before the guys at the truck checkpoint drag me in for tea as well. The police officer speaks some English and after five minutes of small talk he pulls out his pistol...

"Do you want a go?"

Do I want a go?!? Fucking ay!!! I smile like a five year old let loose in a candy store as he cocks it and hands it over. Knocking a round into a nearby tree gives me a huge amount of pleasure. I don't know what it is with boys and guns??? ;)

This draws a crowd and the cop quickly puts the pistol safely away. But now all the bosses are here and they sit down to listen to my story. They must be impressed because they soon invite me to stay for dinner. I get a huge meal of soup, beans, pasta and watermellon. Awesome!!!

But once again they don't let me leave without having another tea! Must be my 20th for the day!!! I can feel my eyeballs starting to swim ;)

Saying my "goodbyes it's now 20:30 and I still want to make the 10kms to Geyve. I can't believe it as another 100m down the road someone else comes out of a shed and waves me over! Here I am, literally in the middle of nowhere, no houses to be seen anywhere and I get three invites for tea within 200m! Unbelievable!

I then do something I try to avoid and that's turn down an offer of hospitality. The main reason is that I really don't think I can stomach another cup of tea without some serious side effects. Even now I'm feeling like I won't sleep for a week!!!

I stop and talk for a couple of minutes and after apologizing profusely excuse myself. Darkness soon sets in and I start to hear all the warning I've received over the last few days playing around in my head. I'm well aware that it is probably just the caffeine sketching me out, as this is the first time I have felt unsafe while walking on the whole pilgrimage, but it's best to listen to my intuition. I give myself until 22:30 to find a camping spot, and right on time locate a great paddock just out of Alifuatpasa.

As I'm trying to doze off I go back through the amazing day I have just had and am strongly reminded of walking through Albania, right down to the gunshots going off in the hills around me as I'm trying to sleep... :)

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