When I arrived in Turkey I met Bryan, the Jesus of bike touring. He was part of warmshowers* and couchsurfing before the internet existed. He used to get mailed pamphlets with addresses and phone numbers. He’d send people letters saying ‘Hey I’m going to be coming to France in six months can I stay at your place?’ and hope they reply before he arrives. Now he’s ridden through more than forty countries – solo, duo, tandem, he’s been through Ethiopia, the Himalayas and Idonesia, he’s camped in the dessert, with hyenas and in freezing cold weather, he’s eaten everything and he knows Turkish, French and Spanish. He lives in Turkey because this was one of the places he liked the most. An incredible guy to meet on the eve of your last adventure.
This was the first thing we did together.
Perfect temperature, calm as the Queen’s sheets and salty enough to float an anvil – I can’t imagine a body of water more perfectly designed for relaxation.
While Bryan and I were climbing down the rock face to get to the bay we were greeted by a large British man with facial hair so thick and black it looked painted on. He was standing by the water’s edge like a curious child. Bike Jesus and I said a quick hello, how’s it going, oh your Suneil, call you su? Alright great, time to get in the relaxation pool – but Su was still standing there.
“How the fuck do you suppose I get down.”
It was only a few small steps in the rock. I turned and held out my hand.
Cycle moses dove in, I unskilfully follow suit and Su held his nose and jumped feet down like a baseball bat falling out of an aeroplane. We had a quick chat and swam out of the bay, Bryan went for a quick lap and I paddled around to look at an abandoned building. We returned to find Su clinging onto an underwater rock looking typically half anxious, half excited. I’ve never been the most confident swimmer so I joined him.
“We’re gonna get walloped by these waves.” He said.
“What?” It was almost completely flat.
“When that boat comes we’re going to get smacked around.”
The boat, about twelve feet, travelling at a speed I could run, was 100 metres away and sending some mildly caressing waves. I told him how In Sydney large waves is completely normal and this would be considered flat as it comes.
“I’ve only ever been in pools. This is my first time in the ocean. It’s brilliant.”
He told us he’d come to Turkey to ‘get away from things’. It seemed to have worked. He was so genuinely excited about the world. If he had more physical energy I would have been convinced he was an overgrown child. It was great to be around. I wanted to sweep him up onto my magic carpet and take him to see the sights sights of the world.
Me and Su. Giant hairy dude and bleary twig boy hand in hand, around the world and full of song.
“A whole new world.” What magic.
I had the heaviest meal last night. Bryan recommended a restaurant that specialises in sheep calf soup. He couldn’t join me so I went with Enrico, an enthusiastic Italian restauranteur I’d met at the airport. Neither of us can speak any Turkish so the only way we could communicate we wanted lamb calf soup was by baaaaing and grabbing our calves. Our waiter, who looked like an evil business man from the 70s, showed an industrial chortle and slapped my shoulder. Ten minutes later we got two soups, bread and a plate of fresh Turkish rocket and parsley with a chilli sauce and some tzatziki*. One soup had shredded lamb and the other had what I can only guess was a sheep knee – it didn’t have any meat on it, only fat, tendons and goupy gristle. Both came in a rich meaty stock with a large spoonful of congealed yellow stuff – cheese, cream or maybe animal fat. While we were laughing about how not-warm-weather appropriate our meals were a smily water appeared with a pan of melted butter. He scooped two large spoonfuls of the stuff and lathered it on our soups.
Evil 70s business man watched. I took a spoonful and washed the fatty pulp through my teeth. It was meaty, heavy and succulent. I smiled at him and gave the thumbs up. He came over to me all smiles and swagger and whispered in my ear.
“This is Turkish viagra.” I was rather troubled by that, not because he suddenly seemed to speak english or that his whisper voice sounded like the voice of a devil but because I wasn’t wearing any underwear. I 100% didn’t want to get a fat one sitting at a Turkish restaurant with a guy I’d just met.
Evil 70s business must be particularly virile because I didn’t feel the slightest pump or verve underneath.
The meal was huge. Not only was the soup heavy but it was big and served with salad and about eight slices of bread each. When we finished our meal Enrico asked me if I wanted to get a kebab or some ice cream. I stood up and felt my belly. I did not.
*couchsurfing for bike tourists
*sorry if that’s culturally insensitive. I don’t know the Turkish name