Turkey, a snake dance and a very long day

The Turkish border was quiet and serious. We showed our documents 5 times and rocked into customs, where a pumped-up young official in a pink shirt talked about us in Turkish, and mocked us when we didn’t know what to do. We completed swine-flu forms.
The landscape changed at the border. It was very dry and desert-like, still with rolling hills, but no green plants. I wondered how it knew to change.

Turkey is bloody enormous. I mean, really, really big. You drive for a day and then look at the map, and you’ve covered an inch of the country. It is amazingly friendly though. There are lots of women looking beautiful in hjijab headscarves. How do they look so stunning with such an odd frame round their faces? I look dreadful.

We stopped for coffee at an internet shop in a little country town, and a very dignified gentleman came over and invited us to his wedding. It was happening right then, next door in the giant hall. When we said we had better keep going, he paid for our coffees without telling us.

We found a little spot in the scrubland to camp. Adam waited until we had set up the tent to see a snake. It was in a bush. There were lots of rustling noises all round us. We did an elaborate snake dance around the area and went to bed. I got up for a wee, and there was a shadow outside the tent.

Petrified, I stuck my nose out. It was a slightly crazed looking shepherd. He spent half an hour trying, increasingly loudly, to explain that we shouldn’t sleep there, but in his hut, and he would make us food, and it wouldn’t be cold. It was very nice of him and we would have gladly taken his offer, but he would have had to sit for an hour waiting for us to pack up again, so we didn’t think that would be fair.


We rode to Ankara the next day. It was 650km away, through Istanbul. It was an idiotic day. The traffic on the highways into Istanbul was insane. It was all signposted though, and everyone was lovely.

There were cars going past with little Muslim covered-up women, grinning at me and showing thumbs-up.

There were beautiful and not-so-beautiful calls to prayer. Either way, nothing happened. I expected to see people rushing to the mosque or praying where they were. I didn’t.

12 hours later, we parked up in the car park of a nice hotel in Golbasi, a few miles from Ankara. The car park was our campsite. We had made it, just. Adam was my hero that day, I could barely see so I don’t know he managed to drive all that way.

The day hadn’t finished. We had no food, so we drove down to the nearby supermarket to get grub. It was all well and good, and we got lots of everything. Then we tried to get back home.

The supermarket was on a one-way dual carriageway from Ankara. We rode towards Ankara, exhausted. The road got misty and we couldn’t see a thing. I was carrying a supermarket bag weighing as much as a large chimp in my hand, and we were only wearing t-shirts. It was very cold. We made it back an hour and a half later. Funnily enough we slept quite well that night…

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