Day 38: Hospitality; From Gezel Bakce to Selcuk in Turkey
June 7, 2012; Distance covered today: 90 Km; Total: 2705 Km
What a mistake it was to have paid for the campground last night!! The campground wasn’t good . The internet was only at the reception, the shower and toilets were not clean, there were roosters round my site which kept calling all night, and above all, the couple next door were so noisy at 2 in the morning that I woke up and went to the reception twice to complain, which was in vain. They made their noise even louder by playing music and singing along!
Since I was going to wake up at 5 in the morning, I didn’t want to wear my ear plugs. But after about an hour, I wore them and went to sleep.
I woke up at 6 in the morning and left the campground. I then realized that I was so close to Izmir. I turned south somewhere in the suburbs of Izmir and boy was it steep? In order to avoid riding two Km on highway, I had to climb 285 m to get back to my route. It was really tough since it was not a main road; it was just a short cut for some locals.
I then was on a very busy road with lots of traffic and fast passing cars. After half hour of riding on that disappointing road, I was on a better road toward Gumuldur, where the traffic was not heavy at all, but man, I was riding on gravel. It was so so hard to ride on that road.
|The hill I climbed|
When I was so tired and hot, I stopped on the shoulder of the road to have a sip of water when I saw a woman outside her make-shift house looking at me in awe. I waved and said, “marhaba”. She came close and invited me in her farm to have a rest and sit in the “shade”. There was no shade by the way. I accepted and went in. She prepared a spot for me to sit on the ground in the very little shade that I could find. She brought me a glass of tea, sat with me and we had a chat. It was funny when she was advising me to get married when I finish my trip.
|This is why I travel by bicycle. You never get this tea if you drive.|
|She offered me a tiny spot in the shade and asked me to stay for lunch.|
I was amazed by the hospitality of this woman. I had heard and read about Turkish hospitality, but man, this is unbelievable. As I was leaving, I gave a box of biscuit that I had in my panniers and asked her to give it to her little kids. She wouldn’t accept it but I insisted.
|When I asked her if I could take her picture, this was her pose.|
|Her "house" full of richness|
I resumed my ride on the terrible road. It was getting hotter and hotter. After another hour, I saw a farmer selling his products on the roadside. I stopped and bought some fruit and yoghurt. It was so delish. I was surprised to see that this farmer also advised me to get married soon!
I was on the coast again. It was unbearably hot now. I stopped in the shade and had a nap for half hour or so. Then I started biking again.
At about 5:30 I was close to Selcuk where I needed to decide about my route. I decided to plan my route at least upto Konya, so that I wouldn’t stop again and again to think which road to take. I went to a roadside restaurant, opened my map on a table, and figured out my route. I marked the route with pencil. Then I went in to order some tea. There was a couple there eating food. I asked the owner where the campground in that area was and he suggested me to stay on his property. I thought it would be a good idea and I would be able to talk to a local and see his life up close. I said, “OK, and I will have kabab tonight, yeah?” The couple who were eating kabab asked me where I was from and the usual stuff.
As I was studying the map and drinking my tea, I saw a full dish of Kabab and vegetables with some watermelon landed on my table in front of me. I hadn’t ordered it!!! Then the owner said this is from the couple. I thanked them, but I told myself that I should pay for the food myself. This is not right.
The Kabab was out of this world. I was enjoying the food when the couple wanted to pay their bill and leave. I went to the cashier and thanked them sincerely and insisted on paying for my food myself. It was impossible. What the guy said in Turkish shut me up: “You are a passenger; you are a guest in Turkey, and ‘your foot should be on our eye’ which figuratively mean, you are so dear to us and we should take care of you or be hospitable to you. Again, I was speechless at Turkish people’s hospitality.
Later on, I saw a cyclist outside the restaurant. I called her and asked her to come in for a drink. She was a Dutch cyclist with a lot of experience touring in Europe. She had a drink and left to find the campground in the area.
|The Generous guy and the restaurant owner|
The owner of the restaurant, Kemal, and I talked a lot about Turkish and Canadian culture. We talked about the way women are treated, politics, and so on. He then showed me how he catches fish in the small creek, and he introduced me to his dogs so that at night, they don’t bark at me. For dinner, he grilled four fish and made some salad for me. He then went home to his family.
|The Cyclist I met in the restaurant|
|And the Salad|
I had a wonderful day today although cycling was difficult, it was rewarding.