Sunday, 1 June 2008

Pilgrimage from Tekirdag to Yenice 30/05/08

The boys all have to work today so they are up and about early. Omur and I are a bit slow to get moving and miss our lift in to town. After waiting a short time for a bus I decide to hitch. He thinks we will never get a lift because he is with me...

"Nobody will pick us up. If you are a foreigner it's OK. No-one is scared of foreigners...but everybody is scared of Turks. They are dangerous" :)

My backpack must have done the job though because a car soon pulls up. Stopping in a cafe for breakfast I then catch a bus back to the restaurant I finished walking to last night. It drops me a kilometer short and I'm not too impressed at having to start the day walking an extra kilometer backwards and uphill, but oh well...

Arriving back in town around midday, I relocate Omur. He introduces me to Yavuz, who it turns out, also knows Christos from Alexandroupolis! When Crossover came here last they did a concert together...it's a small world!

Omur takes me on a quick tour of Tekirdag and I get a great lunch at his work. His company makes porcelain teeth and offers me a job as a sales rep when I get back to Australia. Something to keep in mind...Thanks guys :)

The heat is still a bit much and I'm not really in a walking mood. This makes it easy to lounge around at Yavuz's cafe for a few hours trying to learn some Turkish. Of course, most important things first... "fuck off", "son of a bitch"...Keeps us entertained for a while ;)

I finally make a move around 5pm. It's good being along the coast again, for some reason walking next to water is always more pleasant.

Stopping at a shopping center I sit down and consider having a beer. Knowing that it would probably be the end of the walk for the day I go for an orange juice instead, but still manage to waste an hour sitting around.

As it starts to get dark I pass a restaurant playing music loud enough to draw me in from the opposite side of the road, thinking there might be a party. But no such luck. I am presented with a wonderful meal and they also have wireless. I figure I'm going to be walking in the dark anyway so it doesn't matter if I sit here and drink a few beers before I start again...

Suddenly it's after midnight and the staff are all standing around looking like they are waiting for me to leave so they can close up. Yep, time to go...

I make it another 5kms down the road before searching for a camp spot. Things aren't looking so good, there is a huge wheat field on one side of the road which goes on forever and the rocky coastline next to the sea on the other. Finally around 01:45 in the morning I walk down a little road to the coast and discover a parking area next to a boat ramp. The parking area is all sand which is perfect, so setting my alarm for 5:30 I hit the sack...

I'm yanked out of my slumber by harsh voices outside my tent. It's still dark and my head is foggy from lack of sleep and last night's beers. Whoever it is doesn't seem to have any intentions of leaving and is starting to sound more and more pissed off...

I poke my head out and find myself looking straight down the barrels of two machine guns! Luckily I have my torch and can make out that the kids holding them are in uniform...things could be worse :)

Obviously I have strayed a bit close to a military site. I can't understand a word they are are barking at me but by their aggressive posture and harsh tone I have the strong feeling I am about to be arrested, or at least dragged away for a whole heap of questions. Only half dressed, I figure if I am going to be thrown in a cell with a bunch of other strange people that have just been found wandering the streets I want all my clothes on...

"Erggghh...Just a second..." I disappear back into my tent...

"Stop! Stop! Out! Get out! What are you doing!??"

Their near hysterical yelling makes me realize this probably wasn't the smartest thing to do while their guns are still aimed at me but oh well, too late now. I figure if they were going to shoot me they would have when I first disappeared, another 30 seconds shouldn't hurt....

"I'm coming I'm coming..."

I get dressed and head out to face the music...

"What are you doing here?"

Good question! :) I'm not even sure where "here" is and as for a good reason for me being here...

Shrugging "I'm just walking..."

"No, no, no...what are you doing here?"

"I've just walked from England to here, and I will keep walking tomorrow"

"No, no, no...where is your passport?"

I point at the tent and they nod in agreement when I ask if I should get it...

"So what are you doing here?"

"Just walking"

"No, no no...But what are you doing here?"

I shrug...

"Where is your visa?"

I find the visa for him...

"It's expired!!! You have over stayed your visa!!!"

"No mate, that's when it got issued." This is going to be a long night...

"How long have you been here?"

It's 4am and I have no idea what the date it is or how many days I have been here...I look in the passport. "I arrived the day that it shows on the stamp here...look, the 26th"

"How long will you stay?"

"About one month"

He gets extremely agitated "No, no, no!!! I walk this beach every night! You have not been here a month!"

I am sure he just asked "How long will you stay?". He has a bit of a crazy look in his eyes and I'm starting to feel he isn't all here, but at least his companion seems to have calmed down and is looking reasonably sane, this reassures me...

"Sorry, I arrived to THIS spot tonight, I will stay in Turkey for around a month"

"What is this Hotel?" He points to the building next to us.

I didn't even know it was a hotel...
"I don't know"

"Why aren't you staying there"

"Because I came at 1am"

"What you don't have any money?"

"No, I have money"

"Where are you going"

"I'll walk towards Istanbul tomorrow"

"Aaaaahhhh, you are Australian."

"Yes"

"What is Lleyton Hewitt doing right now?"

Luckily I have just been reading the news on the internet or this question would have completely thrown me...

"He's playing the French Open."

"Yes, yes, Roland Garrows. But he can't win, the ground is too soft. Hewitt can only win if the ground is hard. He likes hard courts."

Well, it sounds like he knows more about tennis than I do, but it's not like I'm going to argue with him anyway. He's the one holding the gun...

"Yep, probably"

"So, what are you doing here?"

I sigh "Just walking"

"Where are you going?"

I figure I better try to be clear from the start, if they are going to be asking questions a hundred times over I don't want to be changing my answers...

"I'm walking to Israel."

"You are from Israel!!!?"

"No, I'm going TO Israel. I live in Australia, I have just walked from England, and I will finish in Israel."

"But what are you doing here?"

"Just passing through."

"Are you alone?"

"Yes"

They go over and look through my tent just to be sure...

"So what are you doing here?"

I shrug...

"You can't stay here...you will have to come with us!"

Yep, great...

"But first we wait for the Commander, the Commander is coming...So what are you doing here?"

I laugh "Just walking"

"You don't have money?"

"I have money"

"So what are you doing here? Where are you going? How long will you stay?..." The circle of questions continues untill the Commander arrives...

I have to suppress a laugh as the soldier tries to explain my story...I would love to know what he has concluded I am doing. The Commander listens patiently, gives me a quick glance up and down, says a few words then leaves...

To everyone's surprise he has just said I can stay! The soldier once again comes over...

"If you are gone tomorrow then you can stay."

Sounds perfect to me "Thanks" :)

"But it is very very dangerous here! You are not scared?"

I want to tell him that in 4000kms the scariest two people I have met are the two right in front of me, the ones that have just dragged me out of my tent at four in the morning by gunpoint...but I just smile "No, not scared"

"What about guys with knives? You should be careful! There are people with knives here."

Still probably not as scary as crazy looking kids with guns ;)

"No, no problem"

"And you have money?"

"Yes I have money."

"Here, here is the number for the police...if you have any trouble give them a call."

"Thanks"

"OK, be careful...It is very dangerous here! Very dangerous! Goodbye..."

"Goodbye"

They walk off and I breath a sigh of relief. That could have turned out a lot worse! As I'm hopping back into my tent the young soldier turns around for one last question...

"Gold, do you have any gold?"

"No mate, no gold..."

I go back to bed...

With adrenaline still pumping through my veins I'm having trouble getting back to sleep, not entirely sure if I am more or less safe with these armed patrols roaming around next to my tent...

Hmmmm...Do I have any gold???

...

3 comments:

Ömür said...

oh Turkish Army =) even they look like dangerous, mostly you can feel safe while they're around.

Ben :) said...

lol...

thats good to hear ;)

and im sure this will not be the last time i have to answer questions to the military either...

but thats all part of the fun :)

Nicu Panaitescu said...

I was scared and, at the same time, laughed a lot! Of course I can laugh from a distance, you can now laugh as well, retrospectively, but I can imagine what you've been through that night...

The young soldiers did a good thing, though: They made you write one of your best posts ever. I have to read it again, that's for sure!

Good luck and travel safe, Ben!