Monday, 18 October 2010

14/09/2010 Derekoy - Chakala (Distance 74km)

As a four we eat apples while packing the tents away. We ride together into to village of Derekoy to find somewhere to drink coffee. The first place we stop at is open and we take a seat outside. The owner is very friendly. We eat some tasty cakes and drink strong coffee. A trio of men are playing some very loud live music in the street. We glean from Kilic (the coffee shop owner) that a soldier is leaving town for a tour – or something to that effect. I snap some pictures of Geerts funky bicycle, which inspires me to get a little more creative with my own setup. His customised dashboard features include – thermometer, compass and various family photos!

Kathrina and I say goodbye to the Geert and Wilbert. The guys are taking a more mountainous and scenic route to Istanbul, whereas the two of us are going a little more directly. We make some very loose plans to meet up in Istanbul and then depart Derekoy in opposite directions. The mornings riding disappears with ease. In Pinharishar Katharina and I stop for lunch. With the bikes parked up we immediately gather the attention of the locals who approach with smiles and several rounds of “Welcome to Turkey”. With full food bags we ride through the town in search of a bench on which to eat our lunch. The hunt is without success and we opt for a shaded patch of pavement. A passing woman hands me half of her bread loaf and continues on her way. Moments later the shop keeper from up the street approaches with two cold bottles of apple juice. We are amazed by the generosity of strangers and agree that it wouldn't happen in our homes countries – as disappointing as that is to admit! On a stretch of road in between towns two men hop off a tractor infront of us. In a field next to the road they pick a couple of water melons. Seeing us pass they pick another and run to the road to catch us. We cheerful waves they continue on their way. The watermelon is packing some weight and so we decide to sit where we are and devour it.

With full bellies the afternoon's riding is a little slow. We stop at a garage to restock our water supply. The owner offers us chy – Turkish tea, which is generally served strong and sweet. It's my first taste the traditional drink and it goes down well. Kathrina (who has spent considerable time in Muslim communities) guides me through the process of making and pouring. The cup is filled half with tea and half with hot water and then sugared to taste. As we prepare to depart the garage the owner hands us a pack a wet wipes each as a parting gesture. These folks are fast becoming the friendliest of the trip.

At the village of Chakala we decide to ask if we can put our tents somewhere. On our second try we get lucky. Very lucky infact. We spot a man working in the allotment of a small-hold and go to ask him – mainly with sign language rather than verbal communication. We motions that we wait. We wait. After half an hour or so we meet Tayfun, he is twenty six and speak a tiny bit of English. I show him my Turkish lesson podcasts and then splutter some hideously pronounced Turkish, which gets a laugh atleast. They motion for us to cross the road. We push our bikes through an old wooden door and into a grassy courtyard. Tayfun motions us inside his family home where we meet his mother, her two sisters, and his grandmother. We kneel on the floor around a wooden table set eight inches from the floor. Plate by steaming plate a feast appears before our eyes. Seemingly just for us as no one else eats. I try desperately to pay attention to using only my right hand, but on occasion fail just as desperately. I suspect in time it will become habit but this is my first time in a Muslim household. The food is wonderful, and I suspect all the vegetables are home grown, olives and cheese too. After the meal the table (and carpet on which it sat) are put away and we sit on the floor in a circle, mother and grandmother taking the available sofa. More family members arrive and I feel like may have interrupted some kind of occasion. After questioning it appears we are the occasion. We meet Tayfun's two younger female cousins and one older guy who speaks a little more English. They bring out a Turkish – English phrase book and most of the evening is spent attempting to speak the others language. Which generally brings about eruptions of laughter all around. They struggle somewhat with mine and Katharina's relationship – or lack there of. I gather that much of the conversation (to which we are not part) surrounds that fact that we are not married, and what our wives/husbands back home must think. As the party disperses we are shown to our room. An unused room of the house with wood burning stove and crumbling horsehair plaster ceiling – it's great. We're both rather chuffed we asked for somewhere to pitch up.

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