This is a hold up!
Maybe it was only a matter of time, but this week we found ourselves in the back of a police van staring at our feet. As the police van hurtled along the Turkish highway, we were in the back with our bikes, bags and a heavily armed police officer.
We sat in silence and wondered if we should try to make friends with the police officer. We usually make friends by comically miming riding a bike, saying slowly “from iskoçya” (Turkish for Scotland) and then pointing to the person and asking “do you cycle?” while doing the comical cycling mime again. But it didn’t seem like the time or the place for comedy.
Thankfully neither us, nor our bikes, were under arrest (which was a relief because we reckon the bikes would have squealed under interrogation). Matt’s stomach had been suboptimal for four or five days, but in the previous 24 hours Harriet’s stomach had gone from impenetrable to DEFCON 1. There was a hotel in 15km, but we didn’t think we could make it on the bikes. After 5 minutes of (failed) hitch-hiking, we asked a friendly waiter at a tea stand if he knew how we could make it to the next town with our bikes. He immediately flagged down a passing police van, explained to the officers that Harriet was pregnant (she’s not!) and asked if they could take us to a hotel. And next thing we’re in the back of a police van with an officer who was chatting away by the end of the journey (albeit with Google translate rather than comedy mimes). The police delivered us to the door of a hotel and we have taken a few days rest and secured some antibiotics.
We’re pretty sure it’s the water in Turkey which has caused the offence, so we are switching to bottled water from here on.
The hospitality in Turkey has continued to be incredible. The first day after Istanbul we were woken up in our tent by a local fisherman who had cooked breakfast for us. Later that day, we stopped to discuss possible camp spots when a retired lorry driver came out of his house and insisted that we camp in his garden (which we did). The following day a local Imam and his family offered us the mosque to sleep in and gave us a cheesy, buttery breakfast to fuel us up the road.
We’re hoping to be back on the road in the next day or two, then it’s 500km along the Black Sea coast to the Georgian border. Yee-haa!
This week’s highlights
The Black Sea region scenery. Incredibly Alpine complete with misty, forest-covered hills and cows with bells around their necks
Having self-appointed guard puppies one night who were doing a ‘great’ job barking every time we rolled over, until the rain came and we didn’t hear another peep from their den
Befriending an Iranian lorry driver on his way to Italy who gave a box of fresh dates. My word, so delicious! And currently being rationed
Hearing a very large truck and convoy car grind to a halt behind us, only to have the driver jump out and motion to ask whether we and our bikes wanted a lift to Georgia? No? OK then, bye! And off he went again
This week’s lowlights
Ill, ill, ill!
Sadly having difficulty communicating with some rural Turkish women due to most of them being unable to read. The smiles and gesticulating go some way to make up for it though!
Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and see you in Georgia!