Another day in Turkey

Another day in Turkey…….”it’s time to get up, the time is five thirty”….another day, again the alarm on the cheap Nokia phone speaks to us in a language I understand despite being hazy from sleep. I get up first, fire up the stove, a small, maybe larger than I would like, burst of flame as the petrol ignites. I jump…..water put to boil. Second drip filter coffee, Li gets out of the tent where she has been rolling the mats, stuffing, compacting, sleeping bags, pulling out grass teasels and the odd bug.
We hear, comment to each other about the sound of bells, questioning the distance, where the sound travels from. Eat a breakfast of burgar wheat, apricots, sultanas, sugar, no milk… creamer. The pannier bags packed, starting to load the bikes when a dog growls, barks, fortunately holds its distance 15 meters away. We pretend to ignore it and go about our business. More bells, dust clouds and sheep appear. Fat wobbly bums and tails not at all like sheep we are familiar with. Still ….sort of ignoring the dog….and another, then another, circling us as a shepherd comes into view. He shouts a command to the dogs and we greet him. Then goats…..then a donkey….all come to have a look….the shepherd moves on, then the sheep, goats…..the donkey comes close…..nibbling…..please….not the bamboo….a cloud of dust…gone…and eventually the dogs after a final inspection of us, we all move off in alternate directions.
A petrol station, we sit, pay for and drink our juice, fill our water bags and prepare to roll. Tea is gifted, so sit a while longer.
After some long but not so steep climbs with a magnificent snow capped mountain to our right, we leave the arid , rock strewn plains, descending into a green fertile valley. Passing numerous road side stalls of fresh produce we decide to stop to purchase grapes, which have become ever present over past 100 kilometres and tomatoes. The man at the stall offers a watermelon. We are now silly enough to carry one….not in need of another. We massage ourselves, rolling the the heavy skinned flesh over our legs in a pleasurable ritual prior to eating. One is enough, we decline, the man declines our payment for the other fruit we have chosen.
Rolling on we arrive at Kayseri. I need new tyres, our second priority after cold beer… longer Ramazan. In a park , drinking, we laze about the grass pondering a restaurant or hotel to acquire wifi, source tyres, visas, route. Li is feeling unusually tired and aching, sore, possibly a bug. A man arrives, speaking English, enquiring….he is wonderfully eccentric, a traveler, local, local business man. Accepting an invitation of food, yes we are hungry, cyclists are always hungry, we go back to his work place, seated amidst caterpillar parts Li chats and researches our needs on his office computer. I opt to go with his son and employe on an adventure. First the supermarket, lemons, parsley, hot green peppers, these are taken to the deli department where a butcher mixes some of the peppers and spices with selected meat.
Then the bakers, the food is handed over, remaining green peppers placed upon a tray with long wooden handle and slid into the wood fired oven. Dough is stretched and the spiced meat spread on top, slid into the oven. Shortly later our fresh steaming pide is being enjoyed by all of us with handfuls of parsley and fresh lemon.
We come across a bike shop, cheap nylon tyres, would suffice if desperate but I want something to last another 7000 kilometres. Another kindly stranger phones a cycle shop, then gives directions. We are lost, really lost and need wifi. Mado, a Turkish chain of dondurma (ice cream) and other treats has wifi if we purchase something. I eat my dondurma, sticky, thick, gloriously cloying with a knife and fork. We are not going to make the bike shop before it closes……it is open…..quality tyres, Li the bike experts, second choice. So I am happy as the Romanian plastic money used as a tyre boot to reduce the bulge in the tyre wall would not surfice indefinitely.
It’s late, Li is still not 100% and we decide to find a hotel rather than pedal on searching for a place to camp. I hate haggling, we only bother with accommodation despite the practice being, for most things, the norm here. I negotiate a reduction of the hotel cost by 10 Turkish Lira. 100 to 90 TL. Breakfast no longer included. Can I call that a successful haggle? It is not my sport and I contemplate the forthcomings of another day in Turkey.
Finally a short stroll to the bazaar, the mosque before bed. A man, a cap maker greets us, invites us to see his work place, mysterious unrestored Kervansaray, crafts people still at work despite the lack of light. We are invited, tomorrow, to breakfast.


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