Who the hell is “Osman”? By entering Turkey Stefan and me saw all kinds of Osmans walking around, whether in the city or on the rural side. Osman may be a farmer, a taxi driver, a seller in a bazar, a car engineer, a gas station attendant, a student.. actually Osman could be pretty much everyone you see in the streets. Most of all, Osmans share some typical habits as for example drinking cay tea or/and eating Turkish kebab. Osman is a very communicative and most probably open-minded character, so as soon as an Osman realizes you are a tourist, especially a German one, he will speak frankly and in the most direct way to you. He actually does not have any sense of shame that might prevent him from adressing you and asking a lot of questions. This can either be very kind and helpful but at some point may also annoy people who are simply not used to this kind of behavior.
“Osman” (in our metaphorical use of the word) is the typical turkish citizen (a “Müller” of Germany) – the most helpful, interested, curious, direct and warm-hearted person one could ever imagine.
So far Turkey is definetely the country that surprised us most with respect to mentality and this has undoubtedly a lot to do with the insane amount of kind people we met in our two weeks ot traveling through Turkey. We simply did not expect to meet so many “Osmans” but – before we came to Turkey – were rather prepared to see a different kind of Turkish mentality and culture (probably prejudiced by our experiences in Germany).
This sort of lecture about getting to know different cultures is one of our major motivations for our trip and that is why we are glad about having made this impressive and lasting experience! Beside this very memorable impression of Turkish culture we also had the opportunity to learn a lot about the political and social situation in the country. There are a lot of conflicts going on which range between modernty and tradition as well as between individualism and family…
After this anecdote on Osman and his home country Turkey, we do not want to forget to give you the latest update on our trip:
We left Istanbul after five days full of action and wonderful experiences. We wanted to make it to the south-eastern part of Turkey which is much warmer than the Bosphorus in march. So after one night close to Ankara we headed south in the direction of Adana, where the Mediteranean Sea was waiting for us. On our way to the Sea we got lost somehow in a very rural and agricultural area where at some point roads stopped in the middle of nowhere and traffic signs – if existing – were nothing but confusing. So we could not help but ask people in the villages for the proper roads. Here we actually found countless “Osmans” and “Osmaniyes” (female version) who were not only helpful but rather keen about helping us out (see below).
After some driving Bernd took us safely to the small fisher village Yumurtalik which is nicely located at the Sea. We used the great weahter with temperatures up to 20° to take the first swim during our trip and had some sunny games on the tablesoocer with some guys right at the beach.
After two wonderful days at Yumurtalik and after Stefan had finally given up on his tries to do some fishing, we started in the direction of Sanliurfa – east of Turkey – where we were planning to meet Halil, a really cool and relaxed guy and actually a friend of Steffi from Istanbul. Somehow Bernd, our car, didn`t seem to be so excited about going east and gave us some trouble.
First problem occured at a gas station, when we realized all of a sudden that fuel was leaking out of one small hose (Schlauch). We did not know at all what had happened and – not able to do something about it – we watched our expensive fuel (in Turkey it is approx. 2€ per liter – highest price in the world) passing away. But within two minutes a gas station attendant, who had become aware of our problem showed up with a new hose, which exactly fitted. He did not even ask us before he climbed under the car to replace the broken parts and fixed the car. For us, this guy was just another Osman and a perfect example of the great Turkish mentality and helpfulness.
After this we went on to have a quick stop at Gaziantep (where the delicious pistachios are being cultivated). When we stopped the car, we realized that something was wrong with our accelerator pedal, which kind of stucked a few times before. We tried to fix it by moving the pedal up and down but somehow made it just worse, so it simply was not movable anymore.. This being our second problem with the car within one day, so we started to get pissed of Bernd and were pretty certain that we would not be able to go on the same night. Pretty desperate we were checking the internet for a solution for the problem and, surprisingly, found one very quickly. So this time we, ourselves, got under the car, did some screwing and finally fixed the broken parts. This actually fulfilled us with some pride for this was the first time we did some engineering and fixed the car on our own.
Anyway, although it was already late, we could continue to Sanliurfa where Halil (the cool guy we mentioned before) was waiting for us until midnight and took us to the appartment of his friend Mehmet. We spent the next three nights in his nice place and had a really chilly time togehter! In these days Halil introduced us to all parts (and Halil might know what we mean by that..) of east-Turkish lifestyle and culture. We really started to like spending our time in Urfa, where Turkish, Kurdish and also Arabian people are living togehter. In a way Urfa reminded us of our imagination of Syria where – because of our lack of time – we unfortunately can’t go. Not only the cultural aspects, the great food but especially Halils great hosting made this an unforgettable stop for us Globekickers. Before we had to say goodbye, we build up the table in a park playing with some kids and had a picknick.
From Sanliurfa we started in the direction of Iran, our next stage. On our way we had to pass the very mountained eastern parts of Turkey/Kurdistan. We had a quick stop at Diyarbakir – the “Kurdish capital” of Turkey – and the same day went on to Van, which is located at a big lake surrounded by mountains. Although it was very cold, we spent three days in the middle of the mountains with the beautiful snow covered nature around us.
We had a kicker match on the top of one big mountain (I could catch up and the score is now equalled to 6:6 in matches) in front of an impressive panorama. But we are certain that pictures of the Himalayas will even top this scenary!
The day after we headed to Yüksekova, the last bigger town before the Turkish-Iranian border station, we decided to spent another night outside and finally found a place to stay (actually the spot was just 50km away from the Iraqi border, which made us feel a little uncomfortable). The next morning – the night had been quite and peaceful – we woke up when some Turkish guys – who had not recognized the two of us sleeping in the back of the car – were trying to open the doors of our car. They were actually trying on every single door to get into the car. We got up and knocked angrily at the door to make sure that Bernd is our property and does not like to be touched by strangers.
After this kind of unexpected experience with people – who were definetely no typical “Osmans” (that is for sure) – we headed to the Iranian border.
At our arrival a complete chaos of cars and people going crazy expected us. The computer systems of the border station had crashed (which apparently happens once a year, we`ve got told) and the whole place had been closed for several hours. When the gates were reopened, hundreds of cars and their crazy drivers inside tried to make it over the border as quickly as possible which obviously overburdened the Turkish bureaucrazy that we were “kindly” introduced to. The whole scene reminded us more of a stock exchange or a bazar than of a properly working administration.
Anyway, with some help of kind Iranians, who did the necessary talking for us, we made it out of hell in 3 hours and finally got into Iran, where some big challenges waited for us – as the following article will show you