Changing countries, passing borders

Changing countries, passing borders

I wave, to no one in particular, the city maybe, mostly. The bus stutters and growls, it moves, stops and moves again. We’re off. It takes a while before the buildings are getting smaller and the road emptier. I look at Ankara and whisper ‘Goodbye’. With Ankara behind me I try to make myself comfortable in the seat but am in no luck. Next to me sits Mr. Turkish Delight.

The center of Turkey is dry, a few rivers and even less mountains try to make the route from North to South less boring, not succeeding. After kilometers of the same plain empty land, loud snores of my neighbor and some treats I fall asleep. When I wake up the surroundings have changed. Big trees, colorful bushes and a mountain road. The bus moves like a snake through the mountain passes, up, down, right, left. Finally we descend, leaving the mountains behind and arriving in the port of Marmaris.

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I swing my backpack on my back and move towards what looks like a ticket office. “Rodos bir bilet lütfen” I ask the lady behind the counter. She smiles, takes my money and gives me a ticket without so much exchanging a word. Then she points in the direction of a rather shabby white hut. The border control takes my passport, stamps it and let me go through. Fifteen days ago my visa expired, but no words, no strange looks and no need to pay off.

A two hour boat ride, which I find rather boring will bring me back to Europe. The waves clash against the small boat, the seats are in desperate need of repainting en the sea gulls snatch bread out of the hands of the travelers. Everyone is laughing, pointing in the direction of Turkey, then pointing in the direction of an empty horizon. “There is Rhodes” I hear a father say to his daughter. She answers with the famous oh’s and ah’s. I’m bored and take my book out of my bag. Travel with Herodotus of Kapuscinski, that will make this small boat ride bearable.

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“Why don’t you enjoy the view?” a lady asks me. “Which view?” “There!” She points at the coast. That’s a view I like, the coast, a shore, land, earth. “I live here, a small house at the seaside, I just love the sea” she says while looking at the waves and sniffing up the sea air. I tell her that I like the view of the sea but the idea of the deep blue nothing makes my skin crawl. She grins. “What about I make you a nice sea dinner, maybe you will change your mind then?”

I get off the boat, wave at my new friend and go searching for a hostel. It is off season, no souvenir stands welcome me, no beggars asking tourists for money and no travelers with oversized cameras. It is hot, my skin feels dirty and my hair looks like it hasn’t seen a shower for a week. I haven’t slept very well in the bus and I’m tired. I shuffle towards the old town of Rhodes, searching for a hostel but everything is closed. People look at me with a strange expression, wary, not sure, compassion or sympathy. I’m too tired to care.

Finally, a dilapidated building with the paint coming off the walls and a sign that says ‘hostel’ arises in front of me. When I open the door my eyes need adjustment. For a while I just stand there, alone, in the dark, on a floor that needs a wipe. Suddenly I hear a movement to my right, I immediately turn that way. A very old man walks slowly, very slowly, towards me. With his stick he tows his legs towards me. He is old, very old and I wonder whether this hostel is open.

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“Kalispera!” His voice trembles, his eyes full with joy and a surprisingly strong handshake. He is chatting like he hasn’t been doing that for a long time. I don’t understand but just nod, say yes when necessary and smile when he looks at me strange. He gestures to follow him and I obey. We move slowly through the ramshackle building. The doors squeak, the wind moves through the chinks in the window frames. He points me a room on the first floor. I open the door and am amazed. The room looks wonderful, the bed is big, the walls high. A Persian carpet lies on the floor, beautiful dark red curtains fall down from the ceiling and the view is unexpected. “Efxaristo!” I jump on the bed and soon fall in a deep sleep in this wonderful spooky hostel in the old town of Rhodes. 

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