For the larger part of my journey I had some pretty nice weather. The sun was a good companion while traveling through Europe. I would take a rest day if it rained. I find it difficult to start the day when it’s pouring, I imagine the discomfort and just don’t want to go. But when the rain catches you on the road, you just man up and take it how it comes.
When traveling through Turkey I had to cycle through some bad weather for a couple of days. It started nearby the village of Karagöl. The night before I found a nice camping spot a kilometer or two from the main road, it rained all night until the morning. When the rain stopped I packed my gear and set off. I followed the same path back to the main highway but the dirt road became a mud road. It took me two hours to push and carry my fully loaded bicycle through the mud. I just couldn’t peddle through, the mud would accumulate between the tires and the mudguards, blocking the wheels. When finally liberated I could continue with my trip. I reached the city of Şarkişla and stopped to buy some groceries. When I was ready to leave it started raining again. A store owner saw me as I was trying to stay dry under a rooftop, he invited me into his store, gave me a cup of çay and let me use his wi-fi. When the rain stopped I continued with my trip.
After the city of Sivas, where I stopped for a day to visit the dentist, I headed up to Zara. It rained all day. At midday I was planning a lunch brake, but didn’t find a pleasant or a dry place to rest, until I reached the town of Hafik. Reaching the city I saw a car riding on the opposite side of the road, the occupants waved at me, I waved back. A couple of minutes later the same car drove aside me, the driver and two passengers invited me for lunch. Without hesitating I accepted their offer. I followed them to the town’s main street, where we stopped at a gun shop.
My hosts were three brothers and the gun shop was the family business. Ata, Okan and Ersin received me and invited me to eat pide (turkish version of pizza). The couple of hours I spend with the guys until the weather cleared, was great. Without knowing each others language (their English was very basic) we managed to communicate using different tools such as google translate or me making some basic sketches. It kept on going like this until one of their friends came and translated our conversation. A question they made and one of the most frequent asked during my trip through Turkey is about football, specifically which Turkish football team was my favorite: Galatasaray S.K. or Fenerbaçhe. Difficult to answer when you don’t have a clue what’s going on with the national league of your own country. The brothers took me for a ride around town and showed me the nearby Gölü (Turkish for lake). I had a great time with them. They also taught me some swear words and they targeted some of their friends on which I could use the word piç (bastard child) on, it was immensely funny for them.
I still wanted to ride some kilometers that day, so I kept my stay short. As they say in Mexico, “Panza llena, corazón contento” (belly full, happy heart), I left my hosts grateful for their hospitality.
The next kilometers were difficult. It started raining harder, the temperature dropped and I had to cycle uphill. Even while wearing appropriate rain gear I got soaked. I reached the city of Zara at night fall and took shelter at a gas station. The gas station attendant who saw how wet and tired I was, invited me into the office. Their the owner seated me near the electrical heater and gave me a cup of çay. I just sat their zombified for hours as people came and went. I asked the owner if he new a place where I could camp for the night, he kept silent for a couple of minutes and after he asked me to follow him. He showed me the terrace above the gas station and asked me if it was suitable to setup my tent there. It was just perfect for me. The rest of the night I spend it with Murat B., the attendant who received me when I arrived. Even without having a common language, we talked for hours. Murat talked about his family and hobbies. In his free time he likes to go fishing and he’s a pigeon fancier. Before we knew it it was midnight and time to close the shop and so I retired to my improvised sleeping quarters.
The next morning I woke up feeling cold, the temperature had dropped considerably. I didn’t have any food left so I went to the bakery just across the gas station. I only bought a loaf of bread and as I was ready to get on my bicycle, the baker came out of his store and asked me if I wanted to join him for a cup of çay. And I never say no to a cup of çay or coffee. He put up a chair near the bread oven and instructed one of the employees to get some cheese, jam and bread, breakfast was served. As talking in English wasn’t useful, I had to improvise to understand and answer all of their questions. Some of the other customers gathered around to see what was happening and joined the conversation. As the time came to leave, the baker gave me another loaf of bread, three simits and a pot of jam; what he gave was so much more than I what I had bought. I felt a bit ashamed but thankful for his kindness. Before I left they took some pictures with me. I regret that I can’t share photos of such nice people.
That day I had to ride my bicycle in the cold but with a warm heart.