More riding over the Anatolian Steppe today and so quite similar to what we did yesterday, for the most part. We still had the tailwind helping us along and the land was still vast and mostly empty. The roads again fluctuated from old sealed Tarmac to rock and dirt, seemingly at random sometimes. Turnip harvesters and shepherds moving their flock punctuated the landscape.
There are some days on tour that you are just resigned to being, not exactly bored but not exhilarated or excited during either. Sometime not much interesting happens and it’s just a day of peddling through similar scenery you road through yesterday. This may have been true today of not for that one factor you can’t predict: who you end up meeting.
At lunch we pulled into the rather rundown and grim town of Osmanpasa once again (like most of these small towns we pass through out in the country) seemingly enirely populated by moustachioed old men. There was one small store where we picked up bread for lunch and the cycled down to some benches at the other end of the main street to eat.
While we were eating a white minivan pulled up. These minivans are really common all over Turkey and seems to be the primary mode of transport for s lot of people to get between the towns and cities out in the country. Anyway, the driver of the minivan rolls down the window and a bespectacled guy, maybe late thirties pokes his head out the window and shots “Çay?” We didn’t want to be rude, and a nice cup of tea is always welcome so we got on our bikes and followed.
He led us back down to where we bought the bread and next to it, to a building with a couple of guys hanging around outside it and a round table with chairs out front. We sat down and started to chat, as best we could, with our new friend and his two friends who had presently joined us.
We got as far as we could with gestures, hand signs and what little English and Turkish we could scrounge up between us. Hassan (the name of this friendly bus driver) took out his phone and started typing away in a translate app. When he finished he turned the screen to us with the translated sentence and…we could understand it. At least, not immediately. The app had definitely translated the Turkish sentences to something else but we weren’t sure what until it suddenly dawned on us. We were looking at Irish!
After explaining (through a translate app of our own) that we spoke English mainly and having a good laugh between ourselves at the mix up there followed a google translate conversation of passing phones back and forth. Hassan started talking about some local landmarks, and once we finished our tea he got us to follow him to one. It was just across the road and was the town Mosque.
What we learned from Hassan who was now our impromptu tour guide was that the modern mosque was built around and using some of the original stone from the original 13th century building. In one annex stood three large, elevated coffins covered in green drapes. These were the tombs of a 13the century Sultan, his mother and army chief. Apparently the mosque had some healing powers and visitors would come in the hopes of a cure.
Hassan gave us a tour around the mosque and small grounds and then invited us back for more çay, though at this stage we had to be going again. We thanked him for the tour, which he said it was his duty to give us as the Bashčan of the mosque, which I don’t think is a religious position, more like a caretaker.
The road out of Osmanpasa was more rocky roads over the steppe. There were a few long climbs and descents up and down into small villages. We figured if we could reach Sorgun, the closest city, before dark we could get some food there and camp at a gas station and be in a good position to strike out further north tomorrow.
Sorgun was situated on a main road and so to reach it we had to find our way back to it, off the small country tracks we were riding on. It took a bit longer then we wanted, taking a wrong turn added a few extra kilometres to the journey but as soon as we found the main road we made great time, back on relatively flat, properly paved surface again.
At Sorgun, a large and not particularly pretty or interesting town, we got some dinner. Then we rode until we came across a gas station with a grassy area where we could camp. We found one with a nice area out back, but it belonged to the restaurant attached to the station. We asked the guys that worked at the restaurant and they said it was no problem. As we were wheeling the bikes around an older guy came out and ran over to us, he was the manager and spoke a bit of English. He confirmed it was ok to sleep there and then invited us into the restaurant for dinner on the house!
We gratefully accepted and ate a tasty second dinner and then went around the back of the restaurant to sleep.