From the moment we cycled out of the coastal road at Alapli, and decided to go inland for some mountain fun, our Turkish guardian angel paid us his full attention. It came in the form of showers of not rain (as so many people had apocalyptically warned us), but of kindness.
Arriving at sunset in the smiling town of Ormanli, with cows walking down the Main Street, Ben went shopping for some pasta. While at the cashier, a voice behind him asks: "hungry?". A few minutes later, here we are sitting in front of a feast of boreks and baklavas in the company of our new friend, Ercan. He then proceeded to inform half the town of our arrival, which quickly resulted in an invitation to stay the night, and a second dinner that led to extreme pains in our exploding stomachs, but massive grins on our face.
The next day, our host Bayram and his family (in Turkey this seems to account for a minimum of 35 people) convinced us to stay the day, as a party was being thrown in the honour of a young boy... To celebrate his circumcision. It's not everyday you get to celebrate a young mans circumcision, so of course we stayed. We weren't disappointed.
While enjoying yet another feast of good food and kindness, we had a glimpse of Turkish sense of humour. As the music stopped, we all looked to the lucky kid, who sat proud in his sultan outfit, on a throne, holding a sign that read "It will be over soon, mashallah". All while the whole party clapped and took photos.
Later on, the young boy was paraded on a motorbike with Christmas-like decorations and yet another sign which this time read: "Just a little bit.."
That night we were invited to stay in the summer house of a neighbor, who also wanted to have his share in helping the foreigners-we had a 3 story house to ourselves! Upon departure, our minds were full of great memories and our hearts, with gratitude.
On the way out of a village called "Garlic" (Tashkopru in Turkish) - we've never seen such high concentration of roadside garlic sellers in our lives- our Turkish guardian angel decided it was time for yet another friendly encounter. Peddling down an empty road, a schoolkid popped up out of nowhere with the biggest grin- "Chai?" He smiled. Turned out he came from across the road, where the rest of his family were set up selling... Garlic. Through a long conversation, (with no common language whatsoever) the boy's dad did his best to invite us to the family home for a night. He also made it very clear that the town we were planning on going to for the night was hell on earth, with temperatures falling down to minus 20, crazy winds and no food. Slightly skeptical of the veracity of such information, but convinced by the happy smiles of the boy and his dad, we accepted the invitation.
Next up came our first epic climb in Turkey (at least that's how they appeared to me from the bottom) as we needed to cross the mountains to get back to the coast. After 15km of a 10% climb, we were exhausted. Luckily, at the top of the hill, there stoop a man who was looking at us as if he had been waiting for the whole day and invited us in. Soup and chai arrived shortly after, as if in store for the next traveller to pass by. It turned out that this man has been hosting cycle tourists going through his village for 10 years now!
Our journey to the coast ended with the town of Alaçam. Pouring with rain (finally, the apocalyptic warnings got some credit) we searched high and low for a campsite. All the potential spots resembled a mud bath, with my shiny disc breaks being ruined in seconds. We were starting to lose hope on the camping front, when a cartoon-like drunken sailor, with a cheeky grin and a wicked laugh, started ranting at us in Turkish, before leading us to his cabin where we could spend the night warm and dry. Best of all, the next morning we were awoken by him banging down the door at 8am, where he invited us for a pile of fried fish for breakfast!
Turkish hospitality is well known - during this stretch of the road we have been shown amazing and constant acts of kindness that somehow modified our already loose schedule - "sure we'll stay one more night" is becoming somewhat of a motto.