Seasons of Love, Part 1

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear,
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you figure a year in a life?
How about love?…Measure in Love”
– Seasons of Love, “Rent” Broadway Soundtrack

2640 meters high. 2640 minutes past. 2640 memories gained. In the past week and a half, I feel I have lived a lifetime. From mountains to sea, from rain to sun–I have enjoyed so many coincidental meetings and been accepted to so many precious homes.

————————————

Resadiye –> Sebinkarahisar –> Bayburt

After posting from the internet cafe in Resadiye, I continued on to make more miles despite it being late in the day and raining. As I was riding along, my phone rang. And who was it…my parents! I was so excited to hear from them as I have not spoken to them since my father dropped me off at New York-JFK airport a month ago. Though reception was bad, we managed several brief exchanges. Soon after I was on my way again; farmland upon farmland, the rain was heavier now, droplets pinging off tin roofs and settling on green blades of grass. As I was climbing up a hill, I happened upon the small village of Umucra. A group of men, young and old, were huddled beneath a tree. They beckoned me over for chay. The guys were incredibly friendly and invited me into what seemed to be the village “common room”. It was where they drank chay, played dominos, and enjoyed social lives together after a hard days work in the fields. The young ones were coming home from school which was in the city many kilometers away. As I chatted away with the guys, one of the uncles called his brother Ohmer who was an English teacher. Ohmer translated for me that his brother wanted to have me as a guest in his house. “As you already know, Turkish people love to have guests in their house. You will have no problem in my uncles house. If there is any problem, call me.” So I said goodbye to the other villagers and Uncle led me to his humble dwelling. His wife (Auntie or Teyze) prepared some food for me and made me feel at home, giving me clothes to wear and a bed to sleep in. We chatted as much as we could, then spent the rest of the evening watching hilarious Turkish gameshows on TV.Their son was home too, but didnt speak much because he was busy with homework. Oh how nice it was inside their humble abode–out of the rain and filled with protein, warmth and comfort!

Teyze in Umucra village with dinner and shes cracking walnuts

Teyze in Umucra village with dinner and shes cracking walnuts

Teyze and her humble home

Teyze and her humble home

bed in Umucra home

bed in Umucra home

In the morning Teyze woke up early and fixed up a simple Turkish breakfast before sending me off. She gave me some flatbread and walnuts for the road–so kind! Umucra village, goodbye but I will not forget you! I continued on to the next town Koyulhisar and headed towards Sebinkarahisar. It was nice riding in the morning, not hot and the rain really helped my allergies. At about 11pm, I rode past a large construction site where several workers were sitting outside taking their lunch break. They called me over for food. YEMEK,they yelled and gestured their hands toward their mouths. Inside the construction complex, they gave me some nice chickpea stew and rice and salad and bread. YUM. I decided from then that construction guys in Turkey were great.

from Umucra to Koyulhisar

from Umucra to Koyulhisar

Construction workers

Construction workers

Construction workers give me lunch!

Construction workers give me lunch!

So glad to avoid tunnels!

So glad to avoid tunnels!

Shortly after I turned off to the road towards Sebinkarahisar. It was a small road again. The sign said 30km. Did I think I could make it before dark? YES I could! Filled with good spirit from all the hospitality I enjoyed since Resadiye, I biked on. But the good spirit faded because soon it began to rain again, and then uphill, and more uphill, and more uphill. It was the kind of uphill where you had to really crank hard in your lowest gear. And it just kept going on and on, hour after hour. But with any great uphill, there is usually a fantastic view, and this one was simply gorgeous.

Road to Sebinkarahisar

Road to Sebinkarahisar

Slanted because the road was mad steep

Slanted because the road was mad steep

Crazy uphill= crazy awesome view!

Crazy uphill= crazy awesome view!

lonely mosque

lonely mosque

Road to Sebinkarahisar

Road to Sebinkarahisar

It was now 6pm and I really felt I could not climb another uphill. The view was so amazing that I decided to call it a day and find camp. But, just as I was pushing my bike behind some trees, a tractor drove up, and the driver saw me. Oh no, Im caught! I spoke kindly to the tractor driver and asked him about his farm, trying to distract him from the fact that I was trespassing. The tractor guy said Sebinkarahisar was 20 km away but when I didnt move, he asked if I wanted to come to his small village. “Yakin. Close” he said. I agreed. Into the tinsy tiny village set in the amazing backdrop of lakes, mountains, so far from any city. I became so excited when he led me through the maze of dirt paths in the village, past cow barns, makeshift sheds, farm equipment, and simple village houses. I couldnt believe I was getting a true mountain village experience! We arrived at his house and he led me upstairs to his mother, wife, and daughter. Many other aunties and uncles in the village ran up to the house excited to see a tourist. They all kept telling the tractor driver how lucky he was to have such a guest!

Tractor driver and his family in small mountain village

Tractor driver and his family in small mountain village

Teyze being a jokester with my hat and sunglasses

Teyze being a jokester with my hat and sunglasses

Merve using me to play dress up

Merve using me to play dress up

I was able to speak some Turkish and English to the teenage daughter who was learning English in high school. It was mostly Turkish though. The aunties prepared a fabulous meal for me, and throughout the evening different people from the village came to say hi to me. I could not believe how much I was treated with such kindness! I showed the family all my pictures and I watched some Turkish soap operas with them before heading to bed. I slept in the living room with the grandma and teenage daughter on the couch.

Village home

Village home

Mountain village where I stayed with tractor driver family -- most amazing view EVER!

Mountain village where I stayed with tractor driver family — most amazing view EVER!

Dirt paths in mountain village

Dirt paths in mountain village

The next morning Teyze sent me off with some homemade cheese for the road. Sure enough, the uphills and rain continued but I felt like I was truly experiencing life in the mountains–the people, the elements, the uphills and downhills. Eventually I made it to Sebinkarahisar which turned out to be a bustling city. The city so high in the mountains, tucked away beneath rock formations, and bustling with vendors evoked images of ancient trading posts in the Ottoman Empire. I could now see it, imagine it, live it with my own eyes.

more awesome villages and views

more awesome villages and views

P1000632

Sebinkarahisar way up in the mountains!

Sebinkarahisar way up in the mountains!

The bustling center of Sebinkarahisar

The bustling center of Sebinkarahisar

Sebinkarahisar....the city I never thought Id reach!

Sebinkarahisar….the city I never thought Id reach!

After being invited for chay and internet at the hardware store in Sebinkarahisar, I continued to the next town Alucra. Throughout the day, the road weaved through the mountains and gorges following a river. The gorgeous views continued and I wish I had time to stop more! Interestingly, I found that most of the herders in this area are women, not men. Sometimes they would be sewing or knitting next to the road while watching the animals graze.

After passing Alucra, I stopped at a small house to ask for water. There were about 10 kids playing in the courtyard so I knew at least one could help me. Their mother came out soon and after chatting a bit, invited me in for chay and dinner. They had other guests in the house so after dinner I politely excused myself and found a place to camp within 5 minutes down the road.

The next two days I rode on, hoping to make it to the city Bayburt on Thursday. I arranged another couchsurfing place in Bayburt so I had to keep moving. The road was really great bike touring–all day there is little traffic,the scenery is fantastic, and mostly you are just listening to the sounds of birds and crickets. I got invited by construction workers again for a meal and met some local farmers at the gas station in one of the villages.

Alucra town

Alucra town

Bayburt city...hot shower here I come!

Bayburt city…hot shower here I come!

rainbow

rainbow

P1000665

More generous construction workers invited for food

More generous construction workers invited for food

on the road to Siran

on the road to Siran

Who needs protein bars when you can have Teyze's AWESOME HOMEMADE CHEESE!

Who needs protein bars when you can have Teyze’s AWESOME HOMEMADE CHEESE!

always a huge Turkish flag in every city...

always a huge Turkish flag in every city…

Luckily after Siran, most of the way to Bayburt was flat, so I made it to Bayburt by Thursday afternoon. HOT SHOWER! I was so looking forward to it.

3 Thoughts on “Seasons of Love, Part 1

  1. Karen on May 23, 2013 at 1:30 pm said:

    Awesome! Enjoy !!

  2. Maria on May 23, 2013 at 2:58 pm said:

    That cow looks angry!

  3. Peach on June 2, 2013 at 6:56 am said:

    This has to be one of the most amazing pictures of all time: http://www.minwahleung.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/P1000598.jpg

    Love reading about your adventures, Minwah. You’re my hero, big time!

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