“After 20 years, you analyze a lot. You remember people, heroism. “The Miracle of the Andes”, that’s what they called it. Many people come up to me and say that had they been there, they surely would have died. But it makes no sense, because until you’re in a… situation like that… you… you have no idea… how you’d behave. To be affronted by solitude without decadence or a… single material thing to prostitute it elevates you to a sprititual plane, where I felt the presence of God. Now, there’s the God they taught about me about at school. And there is the God that’s hidden by what surrounds us in this civilization. That’s the God I met on the mountain.” Alive
Call to prayer has just started as I write this which is fitting. I am sat in Goreme. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6reme) Words can not do justice to this place. Neither can they describe the last week but I shall try my best in the limited time I have available.
I left Ankara after staying with Begun through hospitality club. 5 days for an Iranian visa and a large sum of cash whilst Begun let me sleep in her spare room. I was talking yesterday to a friend about how when I left England I had misanthropic feelings, no more. It is simply impossible to imagine how I could do this trip without people like Begun. So if you are reading this then firstly thank you and secondly keep going with the phd and let me know your result
I managed to get the Iranian visa on the day that Dmitry Medvedev was in town. This meant that the whole of the centre of the city was on lock down. So as I weaved through the stationary cars on the way to the embassy I was stopped by a policeman who shouted at me to get on the pavement. I duly did only to fall off as I went down a kerb, the chain ring slicing into my leg down to the muscle. Panicking that I would not get the visa and that the embassy would be closed I ignored what had just happened and ended up being finger printed in the embassy whilst dripping blood on their floor from my open sandal whilst the Iranian state media played in the corner a successive stream of Zionist aggression style stories.
So leaving the embassy with a limp a smile and blue fingers I cycled up the hill and out of the capital into the mountains. Try picturing what it feels like to hit 3000 miles on an arrow straight road, with the sun beaming down, mountains either side as UNKLE comes on to the mp3 player with the quote that was used to start this narrative. As the bass kicks in a lorry roars past and waves. I will take those two minutes to the grave.
I sleep in a field next to a river and try and get more miles in to no avail due to the heat and the mountains. Men on side cars lifting the side car whilst waving to me, countless smiling children, old men offering me free fruit, cups of chai aplenty and a chance meeting with a father and his family driving his terminally ill wife back to Iran. I forget your names due to the number of people I meet so please do not take offense but your story touched me. Three days from Holland to nearly the middle of Turkey. It goes to prove that when people say you can not do something you should ignore them.
Breakfast with shepherds, dogs with nails poking out of their collars, families jumping out of cars to take water to their houses, fields full of make shift tents where Roma tend the land, crashes on sand, severe dehydration and sun stroke and smiles. Lots and lots of smiles.
The two days from Ankara where simply incredible and validated the whole journey so far. To be in a land that is so sparsely populated and to receive such warmth feels nothing less than a privilege. The third day was not quite as much fun due to feeling like my head was going to explode with legs of lead but I ended up making it in to Goreme and meeting three dutch cyclists, one of which gave me a new rear light after losing my last one from either incompetence or theft.. I have your name written down but I do not have it too hand. Either way you know who you are. I hope that you enjoy your holiday in Turkey and thank you. Really thank you.
I then met Karen again who I had spent time with in Istanbul. How many girls do you know that would get on a 250cc motorcross bike and hoon around Turkey without knowing how to ride a motorbike? We ended up riding out of town and exploring an underground city that is thousands of years old with a tour guide (Ihasla) unique to put it mildly. Walking into a cave network with no safety equipment, crawling through holes and up and down shafts whilst enjoying his home grown was more fun than you can imagine. We climbed to the top of the hills and sat and looked down on our Ihasla‘s village. In a moment of perfect serenity we sat and watched life below us. The silence was interrupted as Ihasla told stories of how he cooked meatballs for president Mitterrand in Paris.
Riding back in the fading light after a cup of Chai and a story of laundering fake dollar bills in Syria we rode through deserted roads interspersed with small villages. We where high fiving kids along the way. When was the last time you gave a child a high five?
I do it every day on the bicycle now. Life is hard doing this but life is good.
Remember that Karen and start drawing. That which you manifest will come true.