DAY 61, KM 4016, Edremit, Turkey, ASIA
Sunday 14 October 2007 30 °C
Endless invitations for tea, brown teeth, ocean views, steep climbs, gorgeous ocean views from high up in the mountains, delicious mediteranian food with interesting new flavours, fantastic arabic music, relaxed socialable people. Turkey is a place that we are glad to slow down and explore!
We didn't know really what to expect from Turkey when we first got here. Honestly, I thought that it was an underdeveloped country, maybe a bit dirty, maybe a bit unsafe. As we road through our first village our presumptions were confirmed as we saw endles rows of grumpy old men outside cafes, just sitting, not drinking, not eating, just sitting. Apparently they couldn't even afford something to sip on to pass the time.
As we past through one little town, we decided to stop and have some tea. As we slowed down, we were suddenly approached by a huge group of men, who were just coming out of the mosque. The Iman came rushing to us, along with all of his curious followers, demanding to know about us and our trip and of course if we were hungry, thirsty, tired, in need of anything. We had just eaten, so we tried to convince them that we were completely self-reliant and independant, no help needed. Well, the Iman was eager to show us his mosque, so we headed in, took off our shoes, and treaded in with our stinky feet over the beatiful rugs, to see our first mosque. It was beautiful inside! Ornate paintings, soft rugs, and lots of light coming in the windows.
As we were leaving, they ask us to follow to a small building on the side of the mosque, and before we knew it, one of the farmers had brought in a feast! A huge tray of fresh salads, filled peppers, cheese, turkish coffee, and yogurt. They all sat there eagerly watching to see if we liked what we were eating. The same people that we saw sitting sadly in the cafes, with not a penny to spend on something to drink were feeding us like kings!
That is when we found out that it was the month of Ramadan. The month where Muslims do not eat or drink during daylight hours. How silly of us! And how open minded of them to want to treat a bunch of infedels to a juicey turkish feast, when they were probably starving. After finishing our feast, another one of the farmers disappears and came back with some Turkish baklava to end our meal. When all was said and done, they packed up the extras and sent us on our way with many handshakes and smiles. Since our first day, I have to say that we have been really impressed with the great openess, enthusiasm, and acceptance of us as foreigners that we've seen in the Turkish people.
We are now really excited because Ramadan has just ended and we don't have to hide so much when we eat during the day (just out of respect for the really hungry people). Now, we spend a lot of time drinking tea with old guys, and our teeth are also getting that nice golden brown tinge. We are so enthusiastic about it, that we even bought our very own turkish tea making set. Amy learned to count to 100 (Wim is also trying hard, and has mastered 1, 2 and 5). As you can see, we are quickly becoming Turkish.
Apart from the great people, Turkey is a beautiful country. We've been riding so far in zigzags along the coast, in between the vineyards (Turkey has great wine) and olive trees. The steep climbs and dry mountains to one side and ocean on our other side, make for dramatic gorgeous scenery
and great wild camping opportunities! There's nothing like waking up in the morning and having breakfast on a lonely beach as the sun comes up, or having a romantic dinner on a deserted pier.
Over the past few days we've taken some serious time off to relax and enjoy this place. A break from biking for a few days feels great, and we have been enjoying the more well known touristy side of Turkey, with a big resort, yummy buffets, and belly dancers. However, the road is calling and we will soon be happily off again to explore a bit of the mountainous interior.
By the way, thank you to all of you who have left comments. It always boosts our spirits to hear that you're following our progress!