Km 55,455 by Clara V.

September 5, 2006

About me

Where can I begin? … If in this last time my life changed so much.

Perhaps Clara is no more, the one that I expected from the life. The arrival of that man who more than everybody I would be able to love; he, who practically kidnaps me.

I have always known that a man would appear like a tempest in my life that would revolutionize me, taken me happy, out and far.

I have always known and waited it. The idea and the eternal hope of a gift of the life of such generate was always present; but I didn’t believe that the moment would arrive by this way,… suddenly and at the beginning of a new phase of my life.

I met Pablo in November of 2005, in Palermo, I had just started the Specialization’s School in Archaeology in the University of Salerno, Italy, and how I had studied for that exam! But was it what I wanted? It was a very confused period and maybe I had to have waited and to think… but everything in that moment seemed that was escaping; my life in Agrigento where I studied Archaeology, the people with which I had lived Agrigento well or bad and some friend also escaped from me. For this reason I felt that I could not stop and I thought about the specialization, the study was always a way to continue a life that I have always had and perhaps for this reason the easiest way.

I always believed that the archaeology has never belonged me and although I like the manual work I have never seen myself as an archaeologist in action, neither less as a student still in library. Truly I didn’t have very clear my ideas about my future, but everything was clearer between me and the archaeology: I will never be able to become an archaeologist, but maybe with the time it could rouse…. the passion!!!

I began the specialization in January, the initial enthusiasm had disappeared and after few days I began to wonder myself what fucking I am still doing in the university, with that academic world that so many nerves gave me.

Everything depressed me, the university headquarters and the people who as me stayed in the classroom to study up to the end of the day; and I remember that damned cold and the snow…

All this and more frozen me and I was sad a lot.

For the two successive months Pablo and me met each other in Naples and everything became less unbearable, he was who reconciled me with everything again, and also with the specialization… but this lasted little, because the idea of leaving together came to our minds and to take a time for us and why not to leave “around the world”

Everything seemed completely natural, he, the trip, the love and a life that changes.

But I didn’t have the courage and at the end of April I couldn’t leave as we believed it possible, as we had dreamt. I was not able to abandon that who I was up to August 19 when finally I arrived to the port of Brindisi and I understood what I should think: “it is not Pablo, it is not my family, I am only me and with the only security that I could not lose that ship.”

Pablo, who had returned to look for me for fourth time to Palermo, didn’t hope it and truly neither me.

Departure to Turkey

We embarked to Cesme on August, the trip was perfect, I could liberated myself about all pressures that I overloaded for the last months, two nights and a day were enough to relax myself.

Our tickets were armchairs but that night when I came back of a shower Pablo surprised me with a cabin and in the morning the captain offered us another cabin with private bathroom and the sea-view. By this way, with sponsors we started our wished trip.

2- In strada

We arrived to Cesme on Monday, the city is very beautiful but too much European and very touristy, Pablo carried me to eat lunch to a local restaurant, of those that I like more and in fact another air was breathed there,… I was calm, relaxed.

At that moment Pablo decides to keep a promise made on the ship; “in 10 days he would carry me to a 5 stars hotel”. So by this way we began the search and after several intents we arrived at the Ontur hotel; I remember that I was very tired, that was the fifth and the last hotel to introduce ourselves; I wanted to stop at least to eat an apple, but Pablo told me to wait and to make the last intent. We entered, it was the first time that I enter with him and we asked for the general manager who was leaving already, but we were lucky because we crossed her; Pablo introduced himself, he introduce me as his wife, he told her about the trip and the thing is made. If I had stopped to eat that apple I had been only a fruit…

The hotel is a paradise, Pablo and I seemed two happy children, a luxurious room, a nice dinner with music life show, a jetty on the beach, the swimming pools, everything amazed us, as much as we have laughed!!!

We left on Tuesday 22 and we camped near some houses on the route, our intention was to get water because we had a little. We spent a beautiful night, …how many fleeting stars; I heard for the first time the song of a mosque, I felt shivers, it was one of the strongest emotions, it was special one…

Everything was perfect, up to the moment in that some dogs began to bark and we to immobilize, then an intense light illuminated us… and I had panic, but not for people, what scares me are the animals, the dogs. So we went to that light and we met a beautiful grandfather and a child who were sleeping in a bed made of wooden on a tree, waw!!!! They controlled the melon plantations; they gave us water, melons and Pablo after my petition for tying the dogs he makes mime, the communication with them was impossible, but it was an exemplary and amusing performance that made us to laugh and to me to love him much more.

Only two days had passed and how many diverse things I had already lived, that luxury in Cesme, the one pedalled, the route and that night.

A difficult day

The following day we left to Izmir, the third biggest city of Turkey after Istanbul and Ankara. We cycled a lot but it was not so difficult for me still, a great ascent and a lot of heat, then through the coast and everything was very calm.

So by this way we arrived to the city, we ate lunch in a restaurant of the centre and I liked, although I didn’t find anything that I believed, Izmir is a European and very beautiful city. After the lunch we left and everything changed. That cycled has been disastrous, and I had a nervous breakdown, “what fucking I am doing here?” I repeated once and another time? It was not a good idea to leave quick Izmir; during that itinerary I have cried and I thought about my life in Palermo, about my family and my friends, about the archaeology,… I have never suffered at the same time as much as that physical and mental pain, the route was a continuous ascent, infinite for me, at the beginning without having a minimum space to be able to pedal at least a little calm, it was too much traffic, many trucks and more than once people drove very close to me and I felt to lose the control of my bicycle. And I felt hate for Pablo, I admit it, I wanted to come back to Sicily.

Maybe I had trusted too much, but that day I could not resist, I would have asked to somebody to carry me. And finally we made it, up to the end of that damned ascent. Pablo had perceived it. “Anti-human”, he has defined that way.

Finally we arrived to Manisa after 90 km in more than 5 hours and we camped in an organized area after a dinner without taking; and under the stars in a slowly way with Pablo all my longings calmed down.

The Turkish hospitality

The following day we arrived to Balikesir and everything went well; it was different, inland Turkey, this is what I want to live. On the end of the afternoon we asked to a man to put our tent in his land but he invited us to his house, he received us with his wife, the granny and his 19 year-old daughter who spoke a little of English. They invited us to have dinner, and the way to serve the food was different, they brought it in a very big tray with several types of plates and we ate directly from there. It was very beautiful.

3- In Balikesir

Here, the people’s hospitality moves me, I remember how the granny hugged me, how big was her fondness to me, I loved that family and Pablo who presented me that moment, showing me a new horizon, adding me excitement and taking enthusiasm to my heart.

I don’t reject anything, whereas he unites, he perfects and he causes love.

That night they wanted absolutely that we sleep in their house and the granny offered to us her small apartment with a room and a kitchen, it was the first house that I visited and I liked too much,… that colour,… that doormats… my welfare didn’t have limits, how much it can be contained by this way? Since I had left I was happier than never and I regretted to have thought in that difficult moment that I could have come back to Italy. That experience was strong and I started to feel that everything is inside the human being and that “the entire universe” is on the man’s command. That night in Brindisi I could have stayed and I would have lost the possibility and the conscience about other life and about love.

The hospitality and the beauty in that house lasted until the following morning, until the moment when we left, with the granny from far still told us goodbye with her hands.

That day we cycled to Illica and we took three hours, but the route was not very difficult, it was a secondary route, without traffic. We crossed some incredible towns, they really seemed outside of the world, Illica was also it,…. but its thermal centre attracted us. When we arrived it was already at night, we were very tired and we had one puncture on my wheel, but finally Pablo and I went to a hamman…..

That night we would have slept in our tent, but the man of the hotel to which we had asked for the Turkish bathroom offers us a dinner and a room free and we couldn’t believe it. I repeat it: “here people are magnificent”.

Illica is an incredible place, it seems one of these towns of the interior of Sicily, but detained in the time, we thought about children, that they didn’t exist because the place seemed as dead town; but while we were walking we saw a party outside of the mosque, so we come closer and the people invited us to share with them. The children exist and one of them gave us attention, she served us to eat and to drink the ayran, a milk-yogurt traditional. For umpteenth time: “people are extraordinary”.

The nicest experience, with Kurdish people

I remember the way to Gonen, I felt very tired, caught a cold; the route presented ascents up to 700 mts and many kilometres were on land way, but at least I relaxed myself when Pablo told me that in this part of the trip I was experiencing everything and it was good,… but how difficult it is sometimes; … anyway I cycle and I don’t stop. That day on the sunset we decided to camp, Pablo took a secondary route from where we were listened voices and I follow him completely, this man in the route is a true show. We cycled a small ascent and we faced up to a movie scenario: giant ovens where coal is produced, tents that resembled those of nomad people and so much people with tools as boys without foot wears, and everybody were blacks by the coal.

And that moment plays me to live!!!

When we crossed they stopped to look at ourselves, …surprising and suspicious, but we advanced and with some fear we looked for a place to camp around. From far away we looked at them and we even felt close; …so why not to ask them to put our tent in their camp?

And we came closer, dragging our bicycles for a small land and sand ascent, and everybody interrupted their work, they stopped to look at ourselves and slowly they began to come closer, first some men and then everybody. Pablo walked ahead mine and he went to that man who seemed to be the boss but he didn’t speak to him and he waited for me that was walking just 7 or 8 meters behind him, but I didn’t have the last force and in the moment that everybody looked at me I dropped the bicycle. “Fuck, my victorious arrived!! “ Pablo helped me and finally we stopped. … everybody wait that the foreigner begins to speak, but he takes his time,… he takes his bottle of water and he begins to drink it in front of the boss,… “Oh my God!!! What is he doing” I thought.

When he begins to speak I relax myself a moment but it is difficult to make them understand what we want: “to camp on the top of the hill” but they told us something about this but we didn’t understand them.

Then we ascend, Pablo wants to see and everybody go there, the men and us. Pablo has a safety about himself that provokes me fear that he can irritates the boss, Pablo gave him the back while the boss spoke to him and I requested to don’t make it, but he told me: “don’t worry, I have everything under control”. Then we understood that there was a working area and they showed us another place to camp near their houses and we didn’t have problem. But while we were taking our things from the bikes they brought the back of a truck with a tractor, “what are they doing ?” we thought. Several minutes passed to understand it, they put it there for us, it was our room; they gave us some blankets and some pillows, it was our bed.

That beautiful people!!!

4- Cena kurda
5- Con i kurdi

Then they invited us to drink tea, it is a exciting touching situation for me, totally new, Pablo is habituated but me… we took off our foot wears and we went into one of their tents, I observe attentively everything, the walls are of nylon, in the floor there are tapestry and pillows in the lateral ones.

They invite us to sit down and then in circle to us all the men also sat down, they are as 20 or 25 people, the boys are behind men and behind boys the women who looked at me in a curious way… I felt totally privileged but at the same time as if I wouldn’t be there, as another person and with that sensation I looked at them.

6- A lavoro

They are Kurdish, they have left their city, Mardin in the 2002, but how difficult was to understand it, Pablo needed of pencil and paper. According to their habit they brought a big tray with several types of plates and then again the tea. Pablo and I began to eat and a few of them accompanied us. Truly I felt shame, but not Pablo, who ate as if he was in fasting. After a little we understood that they were waiting for us to finish and to pass the tray to the women and children. I was ashamed. But not Pablo, who believed that they were happy for inviting us to eat and that all their food was produced by them; the potatoes, the tomatoes, the eggs, the cheese and the olives, so the food didn’t miss them.

The night was long and for some moments I was alone, and it was very amusing when Pablo walked to the bike and he said to the men, pointing to me: “attention with her” with a threaten expression and miming ironically, it was the moment that everybody laughed and we began to understand each other. At his return Pablo surprised them with a magic trick and they were amazed, it was another way to break their shyness and to hear them to laugh was very nice and I enjoyed it. Pablo that night charmed to everybody and for the umpteenth time to me.

But it seemed that they even waited more, so to keeping the talk, after a lot of tea we showed to them the map, the route already cycled, the one to cover and pictures from Africa. And they couldn’t believe it, they were very interested. Finally when we were able to stop of drinking tea which were served in continuation and swiftly without not even to realize, we left the tent and we went to “our room.”

That was the most beautiful room, even more that the luxurious room of the hotel in Cesme, that night the deep and dark sky wrapped us completely, with thousands stars and I got lost looking at them, requesting a desire for each one that fell, there were many desires that then and in a slowly way they were becoming prayers.

It is a trip into the trip that it continues to each minute, that night I felt myself by this way: hugged of those of different language, race and colour; we were the symbol of fraternity and tolerance.

In route to Istanbul

For other two days we advanced and it was not easy to cycle because the route was up and down hills all time,… it was the interior of the Turkey,… where everything is more immobile; the women with their long, brilliant and almost black clothes, as if they were calling more the sun that so much heats,… the men sat down in the bar, drinking their tea, they are always who can more, who owe everything to their pray. By this way, with the song that call the mosques and also with several dogs which disturbed the night we crossed this part of Turkey that takes us to the city of Bandirma, from where we embarked to cross the Marmara sea and finally to arrive in Istanbul.

7- Nella Blue Mosque
8- Sultanahmet

We arrived on Monday 28. I was happy, we are in a city,… splendid, but it has not been a surprise,… certainly, surprise the Blue Mosque, in front Haia Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, the bazaar, the Sultanahmet centre, the heart of the old city where we stayed, the Bosporus, and principally “the surprise” and “the day to day” with Pablo, with the continuous cascades of sensations that in a positive way or no play about the love, the love that we two will try to manage or simply to make flowing it; the surprise is alone with me, it is the compression that I have about myself and then the one that “my people” can have about me.

9- Dal ponte

It is as if I am on halfway, between vacations and not, between a discovered one and nothing new, it is as if I don’t live Istanbul, but in Istanbul.

The surprise is: “how are the people”, people of each place, from the most hidden place of Turkey to that one that is the highlight as Istanbul.

I get lost to look at this city, going around by bike. I feel the freedom which makes myself to think that I am more “tourist” than everybody, that I am more in “vacations” than the rest of the people; here everything is more mine, mine is this city,… because I don’t feel anything different from the sensations of cycling a city that truly is mine, as Palermo.

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