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Published: August 5th 2014
“The best laid plans of mice and men” Robert Burns, To a Mouse
I was 'free' after my Georgia saga, albeit that now I had my first ever 'criminal conviction' (but that's all another story ….see previous 12 blogs).
My lift from the border got me to Posof at about 2 pm: a cute little Turkish town parked on the side of a mountain just 10 kms from the Georgian border. But it was a Muslim holiday, which while of no consequence in larger places, meant there were no buses out of this place to anywhere. And I wanted to get to Ardahan (78 km away) at least, and possibly all the way to Dyabakir in the middle of Kurdistan.
So... I decided to try and hitch a lift. I walked back out of town to the intersection where the road from Georgia meets the road to Ardahan. It was a long and hot wait.... I sat under the shade cloth where Irhan (43 years old and from Kars) was selling watermelons. We talked (in our way given no shared language to speak of)
about things in Turkey, Georgia, and Australia. He was not enamored with Georgia at all. And specially the Police of Georgia. Just from what he had heard, as he had never traveled any further from Kars than Posof in his life. He was a simple 'salt of the earth' man with 4 children and a wife back in Kars. God knows how often he got back there... he seemed to say that when the watermelons (from Kars) were all sold, his boss would send a new truckload. He slept in the no star hotel just behind us.
He was doing an OK business... people from Posof obviously knew he was down here with cheap watermelons and in the hours I was there, maybe a dozen cars came down the hill to purchase one or two at 10 TL (Turkish lire) a kilo (Aus $5 / 3 euro)
At about 3.45 pm a huge late model Mercedes rig (truck) stops for me. I had almost lost all hope of a lift. The driver, Igor, was Georgian and had come from Tbilisi. This was his first trip into Turkey and he was going all the way to Erzurum (about 350
km and about half way to Dyabakir).
The trip from Posof to Erzurum has to be one of the most spectacular road journeys on this planet. Just gorgeous countryside, from mountains to gorges; river valleys; sculptured rocky outcrops of all colours and shapes; lazy wonderfully simple and old villages; and a magnificent sky as the evening approached. I was the 'king' sitting high in the luxurious Mercedes cabin. I smiled most of the way.... and positive thoughts of fortune and loved ones were foremost in my mind. Beauty has that effect, if you really look and reflect on it. So does the aftermath of trauma in the face of beauty.
I felt very positive about Igor for giving me the lift.... however, on the outskirts of Erzurum he dumped me and insisted the lift was over, even though we were in the middle of nowhere. I thought I was on the road to the otogar
(bus station). I got out and started walking, ...and walking, as the light faded. About 4 km on and I was in the dark on a road to nowhere wondering where I would sleep this night. The occasional car whizzed by, and many
trucks. Then.... after perhaps 2 hours, another Mercedes rig stops for me. A Turkish guy named Zarav. It's now about 8.45 pm.
I say “I am going to Dyabakir, I am looking for the otogar
”. He replies “Problem. This road to Ankara”. This is time to consult a map. Ankara is 750 km west of Erzurum, and Dyabakir about 300 km south. “OK” says I. “I go to Ankara”. I reckoned that if I got to Ankara, it would be as good as anyplace to then get to my eventual destination (Konya) as was Dyabakir (actually maybe closer). So off we go. All night. Zarav is Kurdish and plays CDs of mournful and beautiful music.
I have not eaten since breakfast. We stop at about 11 pm for cay
(tea). Three other rigs are there (I realise that these are the guys Zarav has been talking to all night on the mobile). They all work for the same company and are transporting ex-army vehicles to be wrecked and recycled.
There is something going on all the while between these drivers with what I figure are illicitly imported cartons of cigarettes. Cartons and money change hands. At one
point we stop for about 30 minutes while Zarav enters a dark building doing god knows what. At another place we stop to hand over some cartons of cigarettes to someone who has been waiting on the road.
It's a night of naps in between wakefulness. At about 5 am Zarav stops and says he is going to sleep for two hours in the cabin bunk. At 7am his alarm goes off but he stays sleeping for another 40 minutes.
We drive for about an hour and stop for breakfast... Zarav and one of the other company rig drivers. I am happy to pay the bill, and they are grateful.
It pays to advertise. At around 9.30 am we pass a huge billboard promotion for tourism to Amasya. It looks very nice. I consult my map and realise it is one of the places highlighted by a Greek friend (Mary) when we met in Istanbul as a 'must see in Turkey'. When we are less than 10 km from it, I have decided... and tell Zarav that I will get off in Amasya.
Plans change, and plans are never for sure. They are figments of future,
and like memories of past, our mind's attempt to be in control. Once acted upon, now, the change has become the plan.
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