A Tale of Getting Lost

Trip Start Jan 06, 2006
Trip End Sep 02, 2008

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Wednesday, February 8, 2006

[continued from last entry] ... the sleep that I got on the bus couldn't be considered more than a slight doze, because the sun comes up so early in this part of Turkey. The time zone that I'm in starts in Greece and continues all the way to the Iranian border. My bus neared the eastern city of Adana, and the sun came up at an ungodly hour. Sometime around six o'clock, my counterfit ball cap couldn't keep the sun out any longer. And when I awoke, the Turkish-Norwegian couple were still bickering about who got to do the cleaning (she said he wasn't allowed because he can't do it well).

Adana is Turkey's 4th largest city, but it is best known as the city that created the Adana kebap, a spicy meat skewer coal roasted all over the country. They're great but not for breakfast.

Getting my day started at 8.30 am, when we arrived, might have been my best start since after I got over jet lag, but once again it was raining like it was the rain to end all rain. I had my bearings when I arrived. But I got into a dolmush, and had a short chat with a local in very broken English. He seemed to understand me when I told him where I wanted to go. After a 20 minute ride to get to the city centre in a steamed up dolmush, he told me to get off on a certain curb. The steamed windows acted like a sack around my head, and I had lost all sense of direction. I had a (sparsely labelled) map but without a starting point it is well neigh impossible to sort oneself out (and I didn't even know if the map covered where I was).

I found one street sign that had a corresponding street on the map, when a fellow realised I was slighly confounded, and he looked over my shoulder to try to help me. I pointed on the map to a destination (the museum) and tried to have it understood that there was where I wanted to go; unfortunately my Turkish vocabularly doesn't include directions. Soon another man tried to help, and another, and soon five guys were trying to peer over my shoulder to figure out where we were so that I could get to where I wanted to go. Now I say "we" because I have the nearly proven suspicion that none of the fellows could read the map. A sixth fellow, a chap younger than myself, seemed to understand where I was headed and he said something to the others, lots of chattering ensued, and I repeated my destination. Then someone said something along the lines of follow him and this sixth fellow said about the same thing, follow me, and off I followed him toward possibly the museum. We walked a few blocks this way, a few blocks that way, we turned again and then a few blocks over that aways, and then the sixth fellow said something like - over there - with great reassurance, and he had to go off another way.

Well guess what. I walked some of that distance and found out that "over there" was not anywhere near where I wanted to go in the first place. Apparently we had not properly understood each other when sorting out where I wanted to go, and the reassuring chap had lead me to the random place he thought I wanted to go. Now I was more lost than ever.

to eb so lost is particularly unusual for me because I normally have an excellent sense of direction. Adana is not entirely laid out on a grid system, but in some places its roads ray out from circular intersections and I was at one of them. This meant that street signs had a level of ambiguity: was this street Ali Pasha Cadesi or was this next street Ali Pasha Cadesi? A few degrees to the left or the right separated each. Yet after a quarter hour of trial and error was I back on the right track.

The psychological effect of being disoriented, i.e. lost, in the rain, is not one that makes one want to travel. It's astounding, really: one can go from being confident to being troubled and back very quickly. One simply has to cope while soaked for an undefined amount of time (that's what makes it troubling; the "how long will this go on" factor). But the difference between being troubled and not is so very slight; one is lacking only a wee morsel of information and yet this wee morsel is so very pivotal in one's state of psychological well-being.

Yeah - when I get lost I go nuts! That's the lighter side of traveling alone. At least there are donair places everywhere and I can go nuts on a full stomach. You realise that I said above that kebap (donair are very similar) are not that good for breakfast. Well I had one anyway - that was the extent of my being-lost insanity.

After the museum, which I did find, I made the trek across the street to see the second biggest mosque in the Middle East. It's construction was only started in 1988, but now finished it is a sight to behold. Six minarets, a 54 meter dome in the middle, and the most tasteful decoration I have ever seen in a mosque: white interior with burgundy trim on arches and domes, gilt letters and marvellous floral-themed tiles around the windows. And underfoot lies a fluffy carpet easy on exhausted feet. The building was almost entirely deserted; a man came in a few minutes after my arrival to read from the Koran.

A short while later a caretaker approached me. I greeted him and then he offered to show me around. He took me up to the gallery level to see the marble pillars that hold the roof up, and then into the courtyard that was made exclusively of a light grey marble. A pleasant visit indeed. Later, I was buying borek, the vendor pointed to my beard and asked me if I was on the Haj. I wonder if that's what the caretaker thought when he showed me around.
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