Journal - Napló

Days 49-50. Truck-drive in Turkey (Turkey 2.)

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 1:40 AM

Days 49-50. Truck-drive in Turkey



   We set out from Istanbul in the morning hours; the setting sun found us in a little town, a few kilometres south from Ankara, the formal capital. Our intention was getting close to the Syrian border, so our board was showing Hatay, name of a town in southern Turkey.

   The street lights were already on when we got picked up by Omer and his fiery red truck. Due to its 40-tonne-load, it was the last in the convoy consisting of 5 trucks. They were all working for the same company which keeps a total 27 trucks from 4 premises in constant motion. They take on international rides as well: among others, they go to Kazakhstan, Syria, Iran… and Iraq, too – ’do not got there’- said one of them, and, drawing his shirt up, he pointed at the mark of a gunshot wound on his stomach.


   Omer and his mates picked us up a little before 8 p.m. so we soon halted so that they could properly have the evening meal ’permitted’ by Ramadan. We ordered just tea –having had dinner not long ago- but still, they offered us better and better bites from their plates. One of them was passing us grilled chicken, another one made us ’Turkish burger’ made of meatpie and bread, and of course, they were constantly ordering tea.


   They only knew a few English words, so it was mainly them who communicated, jabbering and with joy. They loved kidding each other. We stopped for tea almost every hour – these times they gathered around and it was time to start all the yelling and laughing. They were calling their girlfriends, they put each other on, chased one another around, ordered series of tea until suddenly it all ended and we were on the road again.


   Kenneth was travelling now with this guy, then with that one whereas I stayed with Omer all along. Sometimes I tried to sleep but the numerous cups of tea and the pot-holes prevented me from doing that. I have travelled in trucks before – most cabins were like flea-markets. Omer’s one was quite puritan.

   The part between the two seats was covered with a carpet and was used more like a table – shoe could not touch it. The dashboard was protected with a ’table-cloth’, whose hanging fringes were made dance from time to time by the electric heater. Beneath the seats was the bed, covered with a thick, soft blanket. The entire cabin was a big place, with tall inside height, with a few hat-racks above the seats, with otherwise empty walls.

   Omer’s two cell phones and even more SIM-cards were at work all the time. He not only communicated with his mates by honks and flashing lights but also, they called each other on a regular basis. Either he was called, or he called someone, or he was just playing on his phone…, nevertheless, he had to keep the machines on the charger so that they could stand the pace. Rarely though, but now and then we heard brief singing, maybe even a prayer coming from the wheel.


   After the last shared meal and tea, they had a dispute. Eventually, his friends said goodbye to us and we both went along with Omer. As we found out, the others went to bed, but he did not, so that ’his friends’ (us) could get closer to their destination. When we told him we had time, he should just go sleep, I saw the exact same look on his face what I noticed when, after the last cup of tea, having no other choice then forcing, it was us paying and we didn’t let him buy everything. It wasn’t taking offence but pain. Only for a moment, but it was definitely pain what was mirrored in his face.


   Not long after 9 p.m. he dropped us off at the Hatay-exit road, after about a 600-kilometre ride. He kissed us on our face and let us go. After 100 metres of walking, a car stopped and took us to Hatay.


translated by Ágoston Galambos

Categories: English, Turkey, by Peter

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