Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Leaving feelings

Upon recent tension in Turkey caused by anti-governmental protests, I was getting frightened at the very thought that Ankara would get so dangerous to the point that not only leaving my house would petrify me, but also leaving the city itself would become impossible. I was drawing the darkest scenarios in my mind, wishing myself in a safe place, going crazy because as the turmoil progressed, more and more alarming news were reaching us. I had only one escape in my mind - Cazgirler. While Istanbul and Ankara were burning and people weren't able to go out without fearing for their lives (I did), the villagers were living their carefree lives, unaware of what was almost a revolution.

I got to the safe place on the 8th of June.

The biggest risk of coming there is craving to stay for ever.

I planned to come back to Ankara on Saturday for Elisa's birthday party. But Luís and I were slacking off for most of the week and I didn't want to leave him alone with the massive amount of work. One more day.

On Sunday I heard about the aggression of the police during the funeral ceremony of the first deadly victim of the protests in Ankara. I heard about their brutal interventions not only in the center, but also in districts outside it; about the use of teargas and water cannons; about people's panic; about poor bus and metro connections. One more day.

On Monday I was just tired after hard work of the previous day. OK, on Tuesday I definitely have to leave to avoid any problems with Murat saying that I spend more time on holidays than at work, let alone forbidding me to go to Cazgirler in the beginning of July, when I really have to be there.

Since couple of days ago, after the summer holiday of the kids had started, there's no bus service from Cazgirler to Muratlar, a village along the main road from Bayramiç to Çan where I could easily start hitchhiking. There's no service to the main road between Çanakkale and Çan either. What else can you do when you're a fakir gönüllü and paying a local villager 50 lira for a return trip (this time monstrous 40 lira for a short ride) is a hurt for your wallet?

Kochanie and I woke up at 6 am to feed our kids (chicken, ducks and geese that affived in Agrida just around one week ago) and walked these 10 kilometers to the intersection. I've passed this road many times but only now, taking it slowly, I could properly appreciate the beauty of my surroundings.

We hitched the first ride together. The young driver pointed to his backseat, explaining he had some big load there. "No worries, I'm going on my own and my friend stays here," I quickly explained in Turkish.

Loving and being loved is an amazing thing...

The way back home way quite fast, but not really worry-less. For the umpteenth time, Bursa was the spot on my way I wasn't really looking forward to hitchhiking in. Bursa bypass is a pain in the ass because of its many junctions and thus, many drivers going just a short distance along the main road. Because of this, I sometimes prefer to hitch a truck that stops without me stopping it than wait for a car. After today, I'll probably never look at trucks anymore, regardless of my despair. For the first time ever a driver told me to get out of the car. Not because I did something really wrong but because I couldn't live up to his high-pitched expectations. His hand was reaching me and I yelled at him not to touch me, so he stopped the car before the intersection. I got out without saying a word, rage boiling inside me. It wasn't very long that I had to deal with this asshole, but I was still shouting the worst profanities that came to my mind.

I was getting enraged when after that incident other truck drivers didn't stop to annoy me. The hell, it's never happened to me that one after another around sever trucks would pull over to give me a ride, despite me shaking my head for "no" upon seeing them slow down. Among the long line of trucks I noticed one car, so I enthusiastically approached it, feeling at ease that the driver would take me to the next crossroads. But then the jerk started insisting on taking me to Istanbul, his destination, where he would get me a bus ticket. How silly, I thought, it would be like going to Ankara through Konya. I explained "but from here there's a straight road to Ankara, there's no need to go to Istanbul and I even don't want to go there!" "What if some man does something to you?!" Salak, I was thinking, if I really wanted to take a bus, I'd do it from a place I have to pass anyway, not from somewhere over 200 km out of my way.

I have no idea how this happens, but every time I pass Bursa I feel like a woman of loose virtue flashing my boobs at desperate truck drivers driving past me. It's never happened to me anywhere else that almost every other truck driver would honk the horn upon seeing me, even if they were coming from the opposite direction or taking a turning while I was continuing my way along the highway (and even stopping the giant vehicle in the middle of a dangerous off-ramp to ask where I was going to!). Whenever I heard sex offers or repugnant jokes, most of them were uttered around Bursa. Whenever I'm forced to hitchhike around this city, I wish away every kilometer.

Except for the Bursa experience, the rest or the way back home was excellent. My Turkish is improving and I was happy to have had two great opportunities to use them. I had two drivers with whom I spoke for the entire length of the rides, from the moment of getting into their cars to the moments of getting dropped off. The first one saved me from putting up with Bursa cretins and inspired my trust quite easily. He worked in a cement-producing company in Eskişehir, but also used to be a tour guide there and knew many people working in the tourism/hotel business. He kindly offered to show me some historical places in the city, fortunately just along the main road that we took and just from the car, so I didn't have to worry about my timing not being on target. When I told him I was an education volunteer working with kids, he proposed to help with the organization of a day trip for them, should we ever go to his city. This man was really outspoken, world-traveled and eloquent. In his crash-tour around Eskişehir he pointed to some places that would be of interest to the youngsters. I think I'll soon be speaking with Murat about a possible day trip.

The second driver who deserves a separate mention is the last one I had today. I was feeling really tired, so many details of our conversation escape me, but I remember I felt quite at ease telling him about the little things that for us, Europeans, are quite normal, while for the majority of Turks they're like some freaking oddity, like leaving your family home when you are still very young or not really missing my family members, for whom it's something normal that I'm always elsewhere ("how can't you miss your parents?" being a reaction I know only too well). Instead of asking me if I'm married he confessed himself "after the marriage life becomes terrible!" He praised my Turkish skills I gained in quite a short time of living here, to which I responded that not only it makes life easier when you don't have to force people to speak English, but it also makes people look at you in a different way - you're not like an ignorant tourist who comes to the country expecting everyone to understand them, but someone who wants to have a closer peek at local people's lifestyle and habits.

This driver was going to Batıkent, but after my through investigation whether Kızılay would be safe at the late time of my arrival or whether the metro would work as usual, instead of taking the shortest way to his destination, he took me to Kızılay, where, to my joy, I saw no rebels, only some traces of recent days' events and my 114 bus leaving the bus stop. I had to wait for the next one for around 20 minutes, but it didn't matter at that time - the only thing that did was coming back home thanks to friendly souls (well, at least most of them were so) and finding out that the biggest mess was behind me.