Tuesday, September 24, 2013

After all, not such a painful goodbye

I decided that from now on, my regular visits in Cazgirler would, instead of just one week, last two weeks. There are a few reasons for that. At first, we can rejoice ourselves more. Additionally, the summer still hasn't bade farewell the west of Turkey and it's better to spend the sunny days together. Last but not least, sometimes I have to pay to the villagers who pick me up from the main road and since for a short ride (around 10 km which I could easily walk on foot if it was not for the late time of my arrival) they charge more than a taxi, if I have no other choice, for my tight budget it's better to pay the fee twice during a two-week stay than twice during earch one-week visit.

Unfortunately, the enjoyment of my last stay in Cazgirler was interrupted when kochanie was invited to join a Youth in Action project in İstanbul for which the organizers were missing one Portuguese participant. I was inconsolable; in a while my mood dropped from merriment to deep sorrow, just when I was so glad that I still had one more week to go until we part. However, I reviewed the situation and thought "don't be a brat, we'll see each other again, I'm not a Turkish girlfriend, I can't be that stupidly selfish to think that I can have my boyfriend just for myself."

After spending the entire day together in Bayramiç, late at night I saw Luís off in the bus station and after a night in an local Öğretmen Evi I started early in the morning so that I could quickly leave the place where it felt strange for me to be alone. I was still a little upset that I had to part with kochanie much earlier, having planned before to stay in Cazgirler for two weeks. However, my tears subsided when I got going. Fortunately I didn't have to wait for too long to be outside the town. The perspective of a new destination and new roads thrilled me - instead of taking the beautiful but already tedious way back home - Cazgirler - Biga - Bursa - Eskişehir - Ankara - I got an extra chance to tread roads whose not even a single kilometer was familiar to me.

The trip featured head-spinning ride on almost Alpine-like hairpin turns of Kaz Dağları, meeting Kurdish immigrants from Erbil, passing through Alevi-populated regions of Edremit and coming across no mosque and a crazy ride with two young guys and their two veil-covered, chatterbox aunts rambling exuberantly about eating pork meat. However, its highlight and one of these serendipitous moments offered by the road when you surrender yourself to the fate was a ride with a real estate broker from Ayvalık who in the end of a short ride offered to show me his town. "10-15 minutes," he said, and having lot of time in my hands, I accepted the offer. We went to Cennet Tepesi, a recreational area with a viewpoint overlooking mainland Ayvalık (beautiful white, Greek-style rooftops!), its islands of Cunda and Lale connected to the mainland with a narrow causeway and more distant, tiny islands which the Ayvalık Adaları Archipelago consists of. The Greek island of Lesbos was also visible in the distance.

"Did you enjoy it," my driver asked. "I'll show you much more beautiful place." We drove along the coast to nearby Şeytan Sofras, the most picturesque viewpoint near Ayvalık offering a panoramic view of the turquoise Aegean Sea with its scattered islands, out of which only Cunda and Lale are populated; the rest are small bulges; either barren, desert-like or covered with dense vegetation. I walked back and forth along the guardrails, catching glimpses of my surrounding from different angles and wishing kochanie could be there with me.

I reached my destination in the late afternoon and met with Serdar, our previous couchsurfer in Ankara who this time offered to host me in Bornova, a metropolitan district of İzmir.

On Friday we explored the city during a short walk in Konak, the central neighborhood. Actually, there's not so much to be seen there; it's rather a modern city with wide boulevards and high flats. Its famous clock tower is much smaller than it looks in the photos and in the pazar juice stalls and local clothes sellers' stands alternate with fancy brand stores. We also visited one of the curiosities of İzmir - Asansör Tower; an elevator connecting the hillside of the Karataş quarter to its lower level built over 100 years ago to facilitate the access to the hill by its elderly residents.

View from the top of Asansör

It didn't require much time to take a liking to İzmir. It's the end of the summer season, so it wasn't as crowded and traffic-haunted as İstanbul. People seem more relaxed and happier and smile more instead of giving the impression of always being in hurry and keeping totally emotionless faces (like in my Ankara). Since Serdar and his housemates decided to rent one room in their house, we met with Judy, a Kenyan girl doing her AISEC internship in İzmir and searching for a flat for the final months of her stay. After what seemed like a really long and wearisome walk for Judy, we arrived at home and after a quick presentation of the house had a very genuine conversation, where Vinciane, one of the French housemates also joined us. We shared a lot of interesting insights among the four of us, and we've only known each other for no more than one day (except for my hosts). When Judy was supposed to leave to meet with her friend from work for a dinner, Serdar and I decided to also go out for a while, but instead stayed in the center of Bornova until midnight. Again we met more people and spent some time with them in the restaurant, then Judy, her friend Bilge, Serdar and I joined an Erasmus party that the girls were invited to. It was in probably the loudest bar I've ever been to, stuffed to the limits with people. At first I felt intimidated because of being in a place which is not my natural environment and not knowing anyone but it all changed when my friends started introducing me to new people. At some point I was freely speaking to anyone passing next to me. Everybody was really open and since we were all foreigners, the preliminaries were always about where we come from and what we are doing in Turkey. Almost every answer was something matching the pattern of EVS/Erasmus/internship. I felt again like in the final semester of my studies when I befriended lots of Erasmus students who'd organize parties on a regular basis. It was the time when my social life was in full bloom, coming back home at 5-6 in the morning was the order of the day and every time I went out I was sure I'd met at least ten new people. After many years I was soaking up the nighttime atmosphere again, surrounded by people from all around the world who love the city they live in. Haha, I even lost the count of people who told me how much Ankara sucks, so many of them were compassionate upon finding out where I live.

I planned to come back to my landlocked city on Saturday, so that I could have some rest before new week at work after many a night where I could get less sleep than I'd wished for, both in Cazgirler and İzmir. In spite of my big motivation to leave, my plan fell flat when my hosts insisted that I came with them for a trip to Karagöl, a mountain-perched, heart-shaped lake of a tectonic origin located north of İzmir. I jumped up to the opportunity of spending some time in the nature - mountains surrounding İzmir looked amazing and I craved for more - and decided to sacrifice some lazying for the opportunity of discovering a new place, especially if it's something that you could search the world for in Ankara. Together with Serdar, Vinciane, her Indonesian boyfriend Dan and Serdar's friend, Doruk, we passed some carefree hours by the lake and nearby forest. On the way back home we passed by Seyirtepe, from where we could see the sun setting over İzmir.

Every moment in these four days was amazing, only one thing - or rather a person - was missing - kochanie by my side. On the other hand, I believe that both of us learned a lot and had an amazing time regardless of where we'd been and I can't wait until we share the impressions of the last days, or even better, revisit all the places we've seen, this time together.

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