Last leg to Yalova then Istanbul.

August 29, 2014

I could not wait for the bus ride to be over. It started with me hearing “yabanci” something or other and instinctively I figured it was about me. And it was. The bus was stopped at the second station and all the people from the company who are present are gathered together, white shirts and gray pants… I go out, to meet them, they talk to me way to fast for me to understand anything, then I am rudely shown another seat where a woman in leopard stretch pants and white spandex head band is taking a seat and a half sleeping… I squeeze in there, baglama on my lap, bag at my feet, the guitar is up in the bins and the guy drops a heavy bag on it. I say something and he says “no problem” and I my internal pressure rose.

The 5 hours from Edremit to Yalova are interminable. I can never sleep, in the back of my seat is the sevice station for drinks and tea and food and the attendant yards the stuff in and out of there for a bit, then I try the TV, music, movies screen in front of me but the sound is all messed up. I start to read a book on my laptop and the woman ahead of me with the help of the attendant again, drops the back of the seat so suddenly my laptop flies of the shelf and thankfully lands on my lap.

OK, then, I’ll just sit there. I try to sleep my head against the baglama’s neck but it’s not really successful. As we go I watch the clock, the temperature. I forgot to take a sweater and it’s quite cold with A/C. When I’m about an hour away I took to attempt to read the road signs from my seat but the top of the windshield is tinted and it’s just about impossible to see.

At 4:30 we approach Yalova. I can’t wait to get out. At the Yelova Otogar, 3 of us get out, the leopard wearing woman is one of us. We are outside the town. A woman asks me if I’m going to town, I said yes. We walk inside, looking for some sort of information, but at this point in time it’s either too early or too late for anything.

A man in work uniform shows up, he eyes the three of us. What are you doing? One was waiting for a bus, the other wanted to go to town on another bus, and me, I wanted to know where the town was so I could walk to it. He stands there tea in his hand. The older, fatter woman asks if there is tea. He says no. I’m thinking, of course there is tea… it’s Turkey… He adds that he could bring hot water.

“Come with me” he says to me and the other woman. We follow him up the stairs to an office. There is a big tea pot simmering on a burner… tables, chairs, a laptop, a blackboard and some foodstuffs. He gives the other woman hot water cups, she leaves, he turns to me and says:

‘You can sleep here.”  I never asked to sleep… 

I look around, are you kidding me? So that was his big plan,  get me up here?   I ask:

“I need to go to Yalova, how do I get there from here?”

“I have internet if you need.” he shows me a phone hooked to the laptop. I ask again. He won’t give me an answer. The instinct of the wild horse sees that he is about to be coralled.  I sighed and said under my breath:

“Fuck this.” and walked out, down the hall, down the stairs and headed outside. I ask two people standing there which direction Yalova lays and they vaguely motion nowhere. I sigh. Well I’m going. See ya. At this point I’ve been up for 20 hours walked around 8-10 KM and sweated all day, sat in this stupid bus… I have no desire to stop and wait. There is a gas station a block away so I head there.

In there, I ask the attendant, he says: no you can’t go. Sigh. I can walk I say, I’m fine with walking.  Which direction must I go?  

“Nope. it’s too late.” he says, To which I replied:

“At this point it’s early.” it was around 5 something AM. The Ezan about to ring in the dark morning air.

“Well my friend could take you…”  he says. A taxi driver walks in. I said I had no money. I cannot take a taxi.  I will walk… if you can only tell me where to go…

the taxi driver goes to the washroom. We wait. A long time. Finally when he comes out, they palabre together and the driver tells me


“Gel.” I follow. The yellow car is parked there, being washed, there is another driver with graying long hair smoking a cigarette, he has this akiline nose, he looks at me from under his naturally frowning brows. I don’t care.

I get in the cab, he heads down the road, stops for gas, he asks me if it’s ok I say yes. We get to town and he drops me off. No bullshit, no games… I was surprised. Thank you I said. I look around. I have no idea where the Sema is taking place. I need internet to get all the details. I look and there is a hotel right there, The Grand Karot Hotel”  I have to laugh at the name…  I learn later it is a famous, high falutin’ kind of place.  I thought maybe I could ask them, they would know but there is no lobby to be found. I turn around. The Marmara Sea is black, silent laying its vastness in front of me staring back at me. The skies are sulfuric yellow on the horizon, smudged by black smog. Blending gray and blue and some purple. It’s imposibly quiet. I take this all in, stop all thinking, all rushing, all going around. It’s wondrous.

All is well.

I walked towards the main street, a dog sleeps in the fenced area around a monument. Peaceful. I see a tiny hotel lobby. A man sits there alone.

“Merhaba”… I ask about the Sema,he tells me everything I need to know, I ask where I could find a cafe, he says there is none but the borek place across the street has good tea. I warmly thank him. I cross the street and walk in. Waiters in white shirts and black pants, a checkered black and white floor. Red splashes. I’m so tired. I drop the bags the instrument. Order tea and borek, I know I”m getting some looks, but again, I don’t care. I stay there for a couple of hours. I was told the first minibus will leave for Termal where the sema is at 8 AM.

At around 9 I make it there. It is a gorgeous area. One of the most beautiful places i’ve been in Turkey so far, all being so clean, so green, so alive. No decrepitude or stalinist architechture. I walk up the little road to the center, two women help me carrying the instruments. At this point I’ve been up 24 hours.

In there someone spots me, welcomes me, shows me the place, the do’s and don’ts and I”m on my own. Upstairs, a round room. At the center a wooden floor circled by a carpeted round area where cushions line the perimeter. I was told I could sleep, sit, do whatever. I laid down. There is ney, oud, and various percussions playing. There are whirling people. Some looking like the Mevlana dervishes, others like pagan celebrants but all in harmony. The light sound of the leathered feet on the wood, there is a typical rhytmic sound to the whirling, one leg lifting a little higher and then coming back down. I watch a bit. My weariness caressed by all this. We are electrons… I fall asleep carried by the swirling air, energy, music, spirits.

I slept pretty much on and off the whole day. There was food there, I ate twice small amounts and went back to sleep. There was a closing ceremony, a discourse, the man is a hunchbacked man, gray haired, his eyes piercing, his face beautiful. He sits on a a purple velour chair, next to him is a 50 something German woman who translates his every sentence. She also sits on one of those throne looking chairs. I could be in a fairy tale, a place of spirits and legends. Her hair is long, white, her blue eyes, a long black and red dress… the people attending are what some call the “rainbow people.” spiritually minded explorers, with dreads, cotton dresses of all colors, free spirited, loose in their gestures, no tension… just this floating beingnesses. This is the last day of 99 days of whirling. It was a first. They are all on a high. Presents are distributed. I am the outside particle in this, but I am enjoying the energy, the space. I am tremendously grateful. Calm.

I find a shower. I have two days of sweating to clear. I was starting to smell like a vagrant. I go back to sleep. 8 AM. I wake up. The room is filled with bodies sleeping.  I go gather my things. Eat some food. Most of it was gone, but there was enough for me to go on. I headed out. Minibus back to Yalova. Ferry to Istanbul. It’s a gigantic affair of a boat. It’s full of arabs with too much perfume. I am a bit tremulous. What awaits me in Istanbul I don’t know. Technically I am without home, money and work. I have managed to save my tiny savings from Dalyan on this trip, only spending for the borek and the ferry. I will need the money in Istanbul until things work out.

The ferry stops in Yenikapi. I’m not familiar with this area. I see that I could cut through in a straight line to Eminonu, but loaded like I am the idea of elbowing my way through narrow streets filled with tourists make me decide to walk along the wall, by the Bosphorus. 7 KM. I didn’t know that. I learned that later. It’s really hot, I am loaded, but I walk on. Seems I could walk to the end of the world. There are moments when my shoulders complain, but then, deep breath, and relax into the pain. I get to the funiculaire, up the hill to Tunel square. I made it back.


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