It started with cups of tea and has escalated to entire apartments. The genuine warm-heartedness, generosity and hospitality of the people we have met in Turkey has been incredible. It’s impossible to recall every act, but they are adding up to create a map of good will.
We are the Cartographers of Kindness and these are our stars:
- Bahadir & The Vize Pedal squad, Vize with their tea, route advice and general cycling camaraderie (see Turkey – Land of Tea and Helpfulness)
- David, an American visiting his friend in Iznik, met us on the street, introduced us to Kadir who gave us a room for the night, and to Ahmet who took us all on a road trip up to mountain villages we would never have reached on our bikes. (Thanks guys, hope you found our note & sorry we didn’t get your contact details!)
- Güngör Bilen and the rest of the road building crew in Iznik who insisted we stopped on a long climb in the rain and invited us into their work canteen for food, warmth, photos and route advice.
- The ladies in the van who stopped us on the road from Bilecik and gave us an enormous bag of delicious cherries and the cherry selling family who shared their own limited water with two thirsty strangers.
- Nazim, helping out at his Aunty’s petrol station on the road to Sogut, who gave us tea, told us about the Phrygian Valley and offered us a place to wash clothes. (Note to self never say no to the use of a washing machine again!)
- Guttekin Balci, the knife builder of Eskisehir, who invited us into his workshop and gave me a beautiful necklace from his window of treasures.
- We met Hacer and Ferit one evening at a Phrygian rock fortress where despite the late hour they invited us to join them for an impromptu picnic. The friendship of strangers keeps us going on the lonely road, thanks for the magical memories & the bag of wild thyme.
- The Kurnaz family invited us to join their picnic of delicious home-grown organic food, satisfying my long standing craving for something bitter and green and Ioan’s watermelon desire.
- Massive love and thanks to Sadiq who gave us a memorable tour of the baths at Han, which involved us all scrabbling down passages and popping out of holes, then took us home for tea. Thank you Cafair for the wonderful food and my socks, I love them. Sadiq the route advice was perfect and we reached Ermidag with no problems and no hills!
Fatih Özcan and Özer Özturhan, from the health clinic in Han, who fed and entertained us and then gave us an entire apartment to sleep in. True gentlemen, thank you.
- Murat Ozturk, a local official in Celtik, who kindly let us sleep in his garden and his mum who was utterly gracious and welcoming when her son brought home two waifs!
- The good people of Sulukulu who helped us to stay at the misafirhane (guesthouse) next to their beautiful 1960’s mosque.
- The wonderful teachers and pupils of Isakusagi school who met us on the road as they were delivering a hot meal they’d prepared for local nomads. They fed us on the side of the road and then invited us back to school for tea, despite it being Ramazan, where we were entertained by questions and giggles.
- Huge gratitude to the dude who drove past us on the hot road from Cihanbeyli, went to a store a few kms down the road and returned to give us cold soda. You rock and remind us to do those little acts of random kindness that you think of doing but don’t.
- To the lads who ran the length of field carrying irrigation pipes to tell us to turn back because the dusty gravel road we’d taken as a shortcut was a ‘bad’ road.
- Ahmet who refused to let us pay for our delicious Pide lunch when we stopped in his Uzbeki village.
- The Kurdish guy who treated us to lunch and the cycling kids that entertained us when we passed through their village, particularly the lad with no front tyre.
- Massive thanks to Mehmet, the chemist in Eskil, who on our enquiry if there was a place to stay offered us his whole apartment and spent the night on the pharmacy floor. Legend!
- Another roadside stranger who drove past us then flagged us down to give us plums and cherries on the road into Aksaray.
- Plus all the other unknown strangers who give us tea, coffee or food and everyone who gives us a wave and smile as we pass them by.
Turkey is beautiful, with all its characters and complexities, and we feel privileged to be here. This map of kindness is too simplistic in capturing how important it is to feel such warmth and love on the road, but it is our quick way of acknowledging and being grateful for these acts.