Shaken to Karaman Wed April 25

Woke up, had a shower, wrote a note to my generous hosts, took my stuff and went to the bus station. I looked at the hundreds of erected buildings in the valley below me, thinking

Woke up, had a shower, wrote a note to my generous hosts, took my stuff and went to the bus station. I looked at the hundreds of erected buildings in the valley below me, thinking that when they built METU, this was all wilderness. Took the bus to Guvenpark and there I ran around asking policemen for the bus to Gölbasi. I ran into a big demonstration with yellow flags. I couldn’t make out what they were protesting for or against, but there were plenty of policemen and armored police cars and eventually I found the bus stop and got so happy that I had to take a picture of myself. The bus arrived and it wasn’t possible to buy a ticket onboard so the driver just waved me on a bit annoyed.

I realised that this bus was going all the way to Konya. But I had told the driver I was going to Gölbasi, and hiding on the bus halfway through Turkey would be both impossible and fruitless. In addition, the bus went into every tiny village on the way and that stressed me out. So when we had come to Gölbasi, and I had seen a gas station by the highway, I got out at the next stop and walked back. It was very sunny. There was the big lake on the other side of the highway. It was dusty and the box with 4 games was still heavy. For some reason it struck me that the copies that I played with people would get dirty after a while, and then I wouldn’t be able to sell them, and I would also not want to show them as demo games since they looked dirty. So I decided to from now on always sell the demo copy as soon as possible.

I stood on the gas station and made myself a “Konya” sign that I showed to the cars that left for the highway. The gas station staff came with their tea to have a little chat and make sure that I was standing in the right direction. After 20 mercilessly sunny minutes only 12 cars had left the gas station. One man came to tell me to stand on the naked highway and got out himself to wave for me. I got a bit suspicious and annoyed. But he couldn’t have anything aggressive in mind; if he had friends that would come and pick me up to rob me, then the gas station would be as good as the highway. But he was just annoying, I don’t think he helped me by thumbing for me, it just looked like we were 2 people hitchhiking. After a while he lost interest in the game and left. I kept on thumbing on the highway.

After 8 minutes and 107 cars a truck driver, who had stopped behind me, came up and asked if I wanted to go with him to Konya. His truck looked old, but after 38 minutes of thumbing it felt nice to get a ride halfway to the coast. First he needed to wash a little part from his engine. Then he was having lunch. He asked many times if I wasn’t hungry, but I was still full from the kebab in Ankara. So I drank tea inside the truckers’ inn while he filled up himself. We climbed into the truck, which looked like a museum, like a toy car from the 1950s. It was basically made of wood, and the wood was falling apart. I was surprised when the thing actually started. He turned the key and we started shaking like socks in a washing machine.

We never stopped shaking, it was supposed to be this way. And we never reached above 60 km/h. Whenever I tried to lean back my head hit the wall like a hammer – badum badum badum – but eventually I took the liberty to use all his quilts and pillows to comfort my head and it would have been comfortable if I could have relaxed my legs, but when I did they leaned against the dashboard and started hitting it which inflicted pain on my knees as well as on the poor tortured truck. I am not exaggerating when I am saying that my Adam’s apple was beating my spine.

It was difficult to talk, not just because the constant shaking but also since I didn’t know much German, which annoyed him since he had worked there for decades and thought he was to get some language maintenance when he picked me up. I shook into shaky dreams sometimes, but he said that he would get shaken asleep himself if we didn’t speak so I tried to stay awake and talkative. He asked if I was Christian and said I was an Atheist and he said “we are brothers. I muslim, you atheist, we are brothers. I am black, you are white, we are brothers”. Brother is “kardash”. It’s easy to remember, think of carwash, but with a d instead of w and the a:s pronounced as a:s.

He had Quran verses all over the cabin and he didn’t smoke or drink. His pleasures in life were food, tea, coffee and sex. And also cookies, as it seemed when he stopped to buy us some.

One of the many cities we shook through was “Kulu”. In Kulu, national road D715 changes name to “Olof Palme’s Street”. Many people from Kulu went to work in Sweden and when they came back they named their main street after our prime minister 1969-76 and 82-68. After passing Olof Palme’s park we were out of the city and on the brown plateau again. This part of Turkey wasn’t much to see.

When we had shaken close to Konya, he stopped the truck next to another parked truck and asked the driver if he could take me to the road to Karaman. He said yes and took me there. I walked across a bridge and along the highway until I found a place where it was reasonably easy to stop. It was hardly a perfect place since it was highway, but I decided to give it a 100 cars. After 50 cars a group of teenage boys showed up. They came up to my face and talked into it but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. But the way they waved their hands in my face looked like “get out of here”. I decided to ignore them till I had counted my 100 cars. It was stupid pride; if someone wants you to go then just go whatever their reason. But as the group leader with his tiny moustache stood shouting at me I counted “87 … 88 … 89” and at 100 (after 8 minutes) I turned 180 degrees and walked away from the little rascals. Then car # 100 stopped. It was a policeman. “Eh … Karaman?” I asked. “Get in” he said. I opened the door, sat in the front seat, fastened the seat belt and picked up my map. He started laughing. Why was he laughing? “We don’t like that” he said. “The seat belt. You can take it off if you want”. Wow, the police are telling me to take off my seat belt. He drove me to what he said was the last big gas station in the Karaman direction.

“How can I help you …” he said to himself as much as to me. He talked to the gas station staff and then he talked to a truckdriver. He came back to me and said “Do you want to go to Antalya? You can go with him to Antalya.” “Are there boats to Cyprus from there?” I asked. “No” he said and I declined the offer. The he went with his police uniform to another truck and came back and said “Do you want to go to Iraq? You can go with him to Iraq.” “Are there boats to Cyprus from there?” I asked. “No” he said and I declined the offer.

Then the policeman went out on the highway and pulled over a bus. They stopped, he got up to them and talked to them and then he came to me and said “You can go with them to Karaman, for free”.

I took my luggage and got on the bus. They poured me tea and as darkness fell over Turkey I sat in my comfortable seat and read my fantasy novel. What a great way to hitchhike.

In Kamaran it was dark and I didn’t even consider hitchhiking. The city looked deserted. I started walking in the direction of a shop I could see far far way, trying to walk on the most lit-up streets. When I came to the shop I saw other shops further away, but no hotels. Suddenly, there was a big old castle and close to it a big house with coloured windows that looked like a fancy restaurant. Perhaps the fancy restaurant was also a hotel I thought and went there and realized it was a mosque. Mmmhh … maybe they accommodate heathens I thought and went up to it and stared as people came out from their evening prayer. A man in a hat came up to me and asked in German if I needed any help and he pointed out where to find the city center, where there’d be hotels.

On the way there I entered a pastry shop and bought two of something that looked delicious. The shop assistant wouldn’t let me go till he had made sure that I had learned the name of the stuff I bought, but now I’ve forgot it but I’ll never buy it again; it was nothing but oil in a crispy shell. There were three hotels; two were full but the third had one room without shower for 7 euro and one with shower for 13 euro. Wow, 6 euro for a shower, that’s an expensive shower. For 6 euro you can in most cities enter a bathhouse, swim in a pool and have sauna afterwards. So I took the small room. While the hotel guy – who was so excited about speaking English that he could hardly control himself – looked at my passport and filled out forms I got some tea and watched football in a green room together with a smoking older gentleman.

The room was the smallest I’ve seen in my life. I know I’ve said it before, but this time it’s true. Brave as always after finding a hotel, I took a long walk outside and found a kebab + ayran = less than 1 euro restaurant where they were very interested in football and tried to have a conversation with me by dropping names of players and teams. Unfortunately, “football” is not on my list of international languages. After the restaurant I found an internet cafe where they filled me to the brim with tea while I wrote emails to some Waseda friends about today’s events.

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