Monday, April 20, 2009
DAY 150 WE'RE GETTING PLACES
Since leaving Istanbul 12days/1000kms ago, I've been pedalling flat out with the Black Sea on my left hand side as I head east across Turkey. The continual rolling hills at a 10% gradient along the coast has made this leg of the trip the most difficult so far. But the route is packed full of rewards. The roads are generally quiet to traffic (although we dd have 1 roadblock due to a landslide), finding a place to camp is not a problem, there are loads of public wells so its no worries keeping the water bottles topped up and I pass a few towns each day so its easy getting food.But the over riding feature of this leg of the trip is the welcomes from the people. The further east I go, the more welcoming the people seem to be. About 1 in 5 vehicles that pass me,on the smaller roads, give a friendly hoot of the horn. When it first started I was constantly looking over my shoulder, checking to see if my tent or "IRELAND" plate was slipping off the back of the bike. People have walked up to me in supermarkets or an internet cafe and say "Welcome", shake you hand and then continue about their business. One particularly bizarre day, I had 2 people arguing over who was going to pay for my lunch. They both wanted to get the bill. About 2 hours later, I stopped at a bakery to get some bread for the following mornings' breakfast. The baker refused payment. A further 2 hours later, an old man found me putting up my tent and invited me into his home. He set up a bed for me, heated up my prepared dinner and flicked through his TV stations looking for a programme with little or no dialogue. We spent the evening on a couch watching a war movie packed full of gunfire. He had not 1 word of english and the next morning before I left, he prepared a fine breakfast. He wouldn't take any money. He wouldn't even take the bread the baker had given me the previous day.Its the overwhelming goodness of the people that is the main feature of my days now. Turkey is a big country. Its more than 10 times the size of Ireland but tomorrow I'll be passing through the city of Samsun. We're getting places.