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Tea at midnight. Anyone??

October 20th, 2007 1 comment


64km Baltaköy to Pirlibey

Fresh pomegranatesOur expectations of a peaceful sleep last night were shattered late in the evening when we heard several loud bangs nearby. We were both jolted out of our dreams and on high alert. Gun shots? Fireworks? A car backfiring? We weren’t sure. All went quiet for a few minutes and we started to relax again when a tractor rolled up to our tent and put a strong searchlight right on us. What in the world…

Andrew got out to investigate and was greeted by several farmers who yelled “hello” to us from a distance, said something in Turkish and then went away again. No clarification there then. Once again we crawled back into our sleeping bags and we heard a few more bangs but more distant this time. A little unsettling but we eventually slipped back to sleep when the tractor came roaring back with its high power beam.

This was definitely not the quiet farmland camping we’ve come to expect. Most farmers everywhere we’ve been go home at sunset and don’t return until the next morning but in this part of Turkey evening cruising on tractors seemed to be perfectly normal. Aside from our visitors, several other locals seemed to be out and about on their Massey Fergusons and Fiat Turks. A convenient way to get back and forth between the local men’s club and home?

This time three men came over to the door of the tent to say hello, one with a rifle slung over his shoulder. They held a long one-way conversation with us, all in Turkish, and the only thing we understood was the word for tea along with some pointing to the nearest town. Did they really want us to come have a glass of tea with them? We checked the clock. Past midnight.

We motioned with our arms “no” and “sleep” and after some more discussion they went away, leaving us to get a little rest before the sun came rolling round. It made for what seemed like a very short night.

Our nocturnal adventures left us low on energy for the rest of the day and the roads gave us their own challenge with their constant bumps and unpaved sections. By the afternoon we were quite exhausted and pleasantly surprised to be invited for tea as we passed a cafe by a man who’d lived in France for some time.

The tea was just the thing to reinvigorate us and we enjoyed our conversation with Mehmet, who now drives a local minibus to keep busy during his retirement. In a town of just 1,500 people there are 13 buses that run routes daily to the larger centres. Everyone has a tractor but very few have a car, Mehmet told us.

Not long after leaving Mehmet we we stopped to make camp for the night and we hope it will be more peaceful than the evening before. The nearby road is a much quieter one and we are surrounded by olive groves, pomegranate and citrus trees. The nearest town is some ways off, perched up in the mountains that run both sides of the valley we’ve been cycling, so it should only be the calls of the mosque that we hear through the darkness.

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One Response to “Tea at midnight. Anyone??”

  1. andrew says:

    What we spent: 12YTL groceries

    Road notes: We continued to follow tiny roads for the entire day, which makes it hard to give road numbers. They don’t exist! What we can say is that with a decent map you should not be afraid of going off the beaten trail in Turkey. Everyone has been exceptionally friendly: waving, smiling and offering hospitality. Even during our adventure last night, it was clear the men who approached us were no threat and we were only truly unsettled by the bangs we heard as we didn’t know what was going on. In many small villages, you are likely to find Turks who have lived abroad and returned to their home for retirement, so if you speak German or less commonly French you should be able to communicate with these former expats.

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