Thursday, 16 January 2014

back to school

From Samsun to Trabzon the main road sticks to the coast, except for one nobbly bit where a big tunnel cuts through the hills.  We take the old road around the nobbly bit.  A few short sharp climbs and we are passing through tiny forgotten fishing villages.  These are the lucky ones that have escaped Progress.  For Progress has meant a two or three-lane highway now cuts every coastal settlement off from the sea.  Some towns have coped with this better than others.  Ordu has turned the sea wall into a nice palm-lined walkway with benches.  Just don't look at the motorway behind you.  For us Progress means a hard-shoulder wide enough for a tractor.  This is great for cycling along - plenty of room away from the trucks and buses whizzing past us - until we meet the tractor coming in the opposite direction......

nutty campsite
The foothills of the Anatolian Plateau descend down to the sea.  The main cultivated crop seems to be hazelnuts.  We're not sure at first - the trees are grown in clumps, spaced apart like olive trees, but at this time of year they are bare of leaves or nuts.  They make good cover for camping if there's enough of them.  Sunset is around 4.30pm so we're eating early and getting a long night's sleep.  During the day we have discovered the joys of Turkish petrol stations.  These come up every 10km or so and are usually overstaffed by bored attendants who generally are very welcoming to us and offer us tea from the samovar put out on a table for customers.  The big business apart from petrol seems to be the car wash.  Every garage has one and there are always punters.

it looks like a bakery, it smells like a bakery, it is a bakery

it looks like chicken soup.............
We are lucky with the weather - it is dry and mild, even at night.  Until the day we arrive in Beşikdüzü. By lunctime what looks like a shower has become fully-fledged rain.  We seek shelter at a petrol station restaurant and order a steaming chicken soup. When the bowls are brought to our table I catch a whiff of farmyard.  This is not chicken soup.  I look at Gayle's face and search to see any recognition of what she has ordered for lunch.  Finally, with a touch of 'oh well, never mind' bravura, she says to me "this is tripe."  After hanging around in the restaurant for another couple of hours waiting for the rain to ease off, we set off to meet Ayşe in Beşikdüzü.  Although we have contacted her through Warm Showers, she cannot actually host us.  But she can find us somewhere to camp in her town and we have arranged to meet at the Otogar (bus station).  In some Turkish towns these are big, bright, modern buildings.  In Beşikdüzü it's a car-park with a few bus offices and a tiny tea shop.  We are soaked through when we crash the tea shop, and after wringing out gloves and jackets outside we are quickly invited to sit down around the wood-stove in the centre of the room.  Glasses of hot sweet çay bring us around and we start chatting in signs and words from our phrasebook to the guys hanging out here.  We are almost dry when Ayşe bursts in.  She is quickly admonishing the men for some of their questions. "Are you married? Do you have children?  What is your age?" "Typical questions from a Turkish man!" she exclaims.  
"you will go on a long journey and meet some lovely people.."
Ayşe is an english teacher at one of the local schools.  Her friend arrives ("What's your name?" "A teacher" "And what's your job?" "A teacher" - it turns out her name is Hatiçe - bit of a 'false friend' if you aren't familiar with Turkish names) and we head off to the park where Ayşe has arranged for us to sleep in one of the tea garden huts used to play 'okey' and drink tea.  It's perfect for us.  Leaving the bikes there, we are taken to eat at a restaurant (good lentil soup and cheese pie and dolmaş) which Ayşe generously pays for, before returning to the otogar to sit in Hakan's bus office.  He is a funny chap - reminds me of someone I've met before - and offers us a Turkish coffee and then to read our coffee grounds.  Once again we find ourselves in good company and having a lovely time. Finally we retire to our tea house.

In the morning we meet Hatiçe as arranged and walk to the school.  On the seafront we pass a closed up hotel (Bestt Hotel).  "It's closed now that the Russians have stopped coming" she informs us.  "Russians used to come here?" We're amazed - Beşikdüzü doesn't look like a tourist town.  "Russian girls" she explains, "Now they go to Batumi".  At school Ayşe and Hatiçe give us a second breakfast to fortify us before we are led to Aygün's English class.  They are all girls - the boys only want to study science subjects.  We stand before them and answer their questions.  The one that I remember best makes Ayşe roll her eyes. Are we married?  Yes, I begin.  No, says Gayle.  This isn't a group of men in a çay shop.  This is a class of smart seventeen year-old Turkish girls who all seem to speak good English.  Gayle wants to tell the truth.  Later in one of Ayşe's classes a boy (this is a science group and their English is rustier but still okay) asks me "Fenerbahçe or Trabzonspor?" In return I ask him "Manchester United or Manchester City?" His answer is correct.  We have photos taken and then depart, after saying farewell to Ayşe and Hatiçe, feeling very happy after a great stopover here.
with three great English teachers, Aygün, Hatiçe and

1 comment:

  1. Love it...we were also baffled by the amount of staff at each petrol station. Hope all's well, Ollie