Turkey

Chapter Twenty: Tickets, Tantrums and Torrential Rain

I’d got a speeding ticket. 172 Lera for going 114km/h in a 120 zone. 6 clicks under in my book, but not in theirs…

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I was assured the speed limit for motorcycles was in fact 99km/h, a fact proudly displayed nowhere in Turkey.. After filling out the ticket myself and waving “bad thank you” (as they called it) to the Polis I dawdled at a dull 99km/h to Konya to meet my couchsurfer hosts.

The city is massive, sprawling and, unsurprisingly, sweltering. Following my GPS app somewhere close to the centre I searched earnestly for a WiFi signal matching the signs on a nearby shop and after a lap of the block breezed through the doors of an insurance agency. Initially unhelpful I was bought tea, told to chill out and wait while the owner called the couple I was meant to stay with. The sudden burst of helpfulness caught me off guard and I felt slightly ashamed that they wouldn’t just let me use their WiFi, find the address and search the property out myself. After 5 minutes of awkward Smalltalk with the owner, two people hurried through the door shook my hand quickly and dashed back out before the Polis could ticket them for illegal parking outside. I rushed to put my gloves and gear on and followed the silver saloon way up north of the city, next to the university districts. I felt like a spy, or like ‘Driver’ in that game Driver. It was pretty schweet.

Meet A., male, 21 from Poland and S., female, 19 from Turkey. Pleased to meat you. After a brief conference outside their flat we agreed the safest (and coolest) place for the motorcycle would be in their soon-to-be opening coffee shop. Little did I know then, the coffee shop would be the epicentre of the ever expanding 1/2/3 night stay in the young couples apartment.

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Looking back, I’ve probably garnered enough knowledge of plate, mug and glass selection, ordering printed mugs and agreeing deals with soft drink companies to open my own coffee shop back home without batting an eyelid. I foolishly agreed to go clothes shopping, for three hours, when the idea alone would drive me to tantrum back home. I’d never given my self restraint gland any credit, but it worked, even though my molars probably lost 5mm to grinding.

Back at the flat we all discovered the secret  philosopher hidden in the new beats pill. my I’d accidentally broken the charging element on the inside of the new genuine fake beats pill. While her batteries slowly emptied, she’d pause the music and declare to the room that “Power is not enough” before fading music back in as if nothing happened. Deep beats pill, deep. Then I stepped on it while it was on charge and the micro USB attachment broke off the circuit board inside. Genuine fake beats manufacturers really build them to last..

There wasn’t much exploring to be done. I felt like the limp wheeled side car that had attached itself to an otherwise functioning motorcycle with duct tape, ice lolly sticks and the inner cardboard from toilet roll. I was what Robin’s pet shrew was to Robin was to Batman. There, but not contributing to progress in any way, shape or form. Perhaps I was even stressing out my hosts? From the start they had an unconventional relationship, even by English standards. “I will betray you” was bantered around hourly in stony voices and deadpan expressions, but accepted with smiles and frolicking. “I’m going to rape you” seamlessly met the world of play-fighting, laughing and not a little dry humping. Cracks grew as the days unwinded. Smiles turned to bickering then arguments, shouting then fighting. I have to give it to them though, both were consistently generous to me as a guest. I felt guilty – the proverbial child in a broken home. The attention lavished could be better spent elsewhere. I rode out on day three. A. walked me to the door to say bye. S. sat hunched over on the floor in a ball – all energy expended in an earlier fight, having locked herself in the bathroom and been embroiled in fisticuffs – though that word seems too cute. My awkward English sensibilities didn’t know how to leave this situation, so I hugged A. goodbye and patted an unresponsive S. on the shoulder.

When it wasn’t blindingly bright and pleasantly warm rainstorms had battered Konya and the surrounding plains. The night before departure we watched stickers being put on the shop windows with a lightening storm painting white daggers through the rolling backdrop of black and purples. Right now through it was blindingly bright, my arms already damp and sticking to the mesh lining the sleeves of my jacket from carrying the panniers down from the house. But like each day before, the weather could only hold out so long. The cool air moving through the vents in my jacket was a welcome break

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Iy bank balance really didn’t want to end up in the hands of the Turkish Polis, so I growled along at 99km/h. Progress was painful. I had to stop for my sake, not for gas. The big but derelict looking bus shelter seemed as good a place as any so I stopped for food. I didn’t get food, I got…

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Later I wasn’t glad for the cool weather, because with it came a shitstorm of rain and hail. After I hastily dragged  on waterproof trousers time was well spent swerving past falling cats and dogs, diesel spills and wet drain covers. The drains must have been clogged to start with. In places the rain, now thick and muddy brown, lay a foot deep across the whole road. Elsewhere it was just the perfect place for aquaplaning. A loss of traction every minute or so isn’t overselling it,  the back wheel jittered and spinned wildly. I became annoyingly aware of my new helmets ability to let water spray my face when looking sideways at the mirrors. It was wet.

The land had shrunk down to rolling plains. I stopped for a break under a disused petrol station awning and fed a swollen nippled bitch half my chocolate biscuits. Maybe karma would repay me with an uneventful and considerably drier journey?

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It worked..for a time. Long enough for me to dry out a little before being soaked through again. It wasn’t exactly what I’d rode from England for. Continuing I was given free coffee and directions to Göreme just outside Nevsehir, the biggest town in Cappadocia. It was damp, but the roads weren’t holding the water so much and the speed managed to limp back up to 99.

Then I saw it, from a roadside cafe. My first view of Cappadocia.

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The rock spires were pulled out into the sky like warm toffee clinging to a spoon. Little black squares belied that these had been carved out into houses a long time ago, and these spire houses stretched out as far as you could see.

The next couple of hours were taken up hunting for an appropriate abandoned cave house to wild camp in, preserving the budget a little.  It was still early so I had to kill time with a sad sandwich (sadwich) and a wander around outskirt Göreme with a random old South Korean lady, Jen.

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Locating a hidden away cave to camp in was proving difficult, so I rode a little way to Ürgüp, another town filled with rock spires, had a coffee and more sadwich. Deciding to keep searching from the motorbike saddle, I rode out of town. Predictably…

Absolutely piss wet through again I made tracks back to Göreme, where the caves seemed more promising – although I was loosing motivation for the idea rapidly and the roads, steep, cobbled and now slippery as a turd in a Teflon pan sapped any residual energy from my tired brain.

I hijacked another coffee shops WiFi. I’d had a message back from Cassie, a travelling Canadian I’d first met at the hostel in Valencia. From the earlier coffee shop, perched above Cappadocia, one of her posts came up on my news feed. Coincidentally she was in Göreme at the same time so I messaged her. Now I’d got her reply.
She was staying in Ali Baba’s guesthouse, the cheapest thing on hostel bookers. What’s more it was only €6 a night and I might stand a chance of actually drying out… My jacket and helmet were back on before I knew it.

Booked in, shown my room and meet up with Cassie. That’s all I’d bargained for. Then, leafing through my dwindling Lera, the idea to go to a Turkish dancing show was building momentum. Food, free booze and company to help me forget the many challenges and sadwiches of the day. OK, why the fuck not. First round’s on me.

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