“The journey is not what happens outside, but inside,” said a traveler who we met once.
Bulgaria-Turkey border …. 25/04/2012
We see as we go the last Orthodox domes rising towards the heaven, their crosses… proud to be Christians, claim their religion at the border.
A farmer as every day has come to his land with the bicycle and started to till the field at the first lights of the day. At the other side of the border the farmer till the fiel too… They have come at the same time.
Here, the mosque´s spiers seem to touch the sky, seem to want to make a hole in it. Five times a day the imam calles the faithful to prayer, they plow on it …. nothing has changed.
We go into Muslim lands, Aitor dress shorts and short shirt. I give up angry at having to wear long sleeves and long pants now that at last the summer have come … acceptance, I had learned in Pakistan.
After watching and listening we’ve learned that this country has all the positive things that we believe are common in the Muslim countries (no alcohol, no steals, hospitality is overwhelming …) and at the same time they are open and can accept that the neighbbor dress short sleeve, which has been a relief for me.
Istanbul was too big, too city. On entering we felt it was too dangerous and we decided that we would lieave the city by ship because, cycling between cars and buses that are passing close to us at 110km / h, left us breathless for a moment … It is not attractive at all. Lots of tourists, crazy prices, cars, rush … we left soon.
Although we were shocked at the beauty of its mosques, we didn´t feel the magic. We have crossed small towns that are really unknown which transported us to other time, in which we felt something special inside us, or which made us dream about past times.
But at the end are the encounters what make us enjoy this life we have chosen to live. We are the kind of people who likes the meetings, like to talk to the people more than to see museums and builings, and in that Turkey has given us abundance.
In this country the greeting to the travellers is:
– Chai, Chai? (Do you want a tea?).
(While making the gesture of shaking the tea with a teaspoon in a cup).
The Chai is the excuse for us to sit with them (the men) for a while, and I say (the men) because the women here are not going to have a tea to a bars or cafes. The street Chai is taken with men.
Often these meetings turn out to an invitation to sleep at their home, specially when the darkness is coming. It is then when you go into family life, homes and women appear, meals (which most of the time are: tomato and cucumber , cheese, butter, olives, yogurt, and a kind of sweet jam. All accompanied by bread that as we keep cycling more and more kms in the country has changed completely in form and flavor).
A lot of people and stories we have left behind us … in the 1,300 kms that we already traveled in this huge country until this very moment that we are at its center.
We left behind… many encounters which enrich much more our lifes.
Like… that woman who gifted me those special socks that still i´m carrying in the saddlebags,
like…the cops with who we spend a cool noon under the shadow having lunch and talking about “state secrets”
Like… that family man who had an accident in the house while we were having lunch near by , and we don´t know anything else about.
We were welcomed by musicians who have given us heavenly sounds, in humble homes and wealthy families. They offered us what they have. Some more others less, but all of them offered us from the heart. With many of them we could not communicate too much but we have shared with other interesting talks discovering that the reality of this country is different from what we got from the media in ours.
We saw also how in the city the people laughed at us because we were dirty, so dirty. To learn, to feel, to see, to experience and to enjoy …. feeling more alive while we need less, we want less.
We are resting, these days we left the bicycles and went up north to Trabzon, where we are gona try to get the Iranian visa, one of the hardest visas to get. It seems that they are giving it in one day so we hope to return soon, to take the bicycles and to continue the second half of the country in which we will go into Kurdish lands.