After I left Bizerte, I followed the coastal road which I found on GPS. The paved road became a dirt road first stony and then sandy. Dude, I had passed the last turn about 10 km ago. Turning back? I took my Samsung phone and opened Google map page. Changed map mode to satellite mode. Let’s find out where the road goes to.. It wasn’t visible on GPS but on satellite, about 8 km of the road is sandy. Uh oh… It seems I have to push my bike for a pretty long time. Let’s try to keep moving, if not I’ll swim when the road comes close to the shore, it is 42°C pufff.
It is useful to look at Google map using mobile phone when the road is not seen on GPS. But, if the mobile is not connected to a domestic internet provider its performance is quite low. It is generally said: “No need for internet for Google maps. Open your GPS and follow your route from the map” That is true, but if you haven’t opened the part you want to go on the GPS before and haven’t got the details it doesn’t work. You cannot zoom. Furthermore, you cannot see how many kilometers is left to your destination. The only one mobile which gives all the data, also able to zoom in and out is Nokia as far as I know.
This dirt road leads to Metline passing through Foret du Remel. Google map shows this road as a regular road. But without a 4×4 jeep you would get stuck in the sand at this area. Therefore, I advise you not to go there driving a regular car. Although the road seems pretty close to the coast, it is very difficult to get to the beach. There are dunes all around. I wanted to swim in the sea at some point but didn’t have the power to traverse the dunes. The best thing I do in this hot weather is passing out under the shadow of a tree I find.
Following this route I came to the beach of Sounine. A loud music was playing, lighting up the beach. The first thing that caught my attention was that there was nobody lying on the beach. There were tables and chairs, amcamlar (my uncles in Turkish – used for elderly men) and teyzemler (my aunties in Turkish – used for elderly women), young women were drinking tea or coffee.
I see people playing volleyball at the beach. I look for a suitable place to put my bicycle. Dude, so much time has passed since I haven’t played volleyball. Let me hit the ball once or twice. While I was looking around, the owner of the kiosk at the beach:
– Hey bro! Leave your bicycle here
– Thanks bro.
Just as this warm greeting a conversation in English started right away between us. Then after we had time to know each other, we chatted a while, even became buddy. I said to him: “I leave my bicycle here” and went down to the beach. I left my passport and wallet, everything there on my bicycle. : ) Years after years I get people to know better and see in their heart. There are still times when I’m wrong but every disappointment is a new experience for me.
The boys playing volleyball formed a circle passing the ball to each other. They are not casual players. It seems everyone knows how to play volleyball well. They readily accepted a foreigner to play with. The circle enlarged a little more. The ball passed a couple of rounds. After several digs and sets the player opposite to me received a nice pass and spiked the ball with his whole power towards me. I received the ball without any difficulties and passed to the player next to me. Hoopp… He also spiked but I received and set the ball diagonally. The ball passed another couple of rounds. The player at the outer corner spiked again with his whole body power which I again received and passed. But the next player couldn’t receive the ball. Anyway, these spikes continued to come towards me for some time.
It was a good training for me. I had really missed to play volleyball. Just at that moment one of the players spiked from a very close distance. I was not prepared for that but could receive it and the ball went vertically high as if I passed the ball to me. This time I made two forward steps, jumped and spiked smiting hip and thigh. The receiving player fell down due to the impact effect of the ball. It was impossible to receive and pass the ball from this short distance. Dude, how the hell he could receive… Well, we all laughed. I helped him to rise to his feet and hugged him. We continued to play a couple of rounds, then I left the group. I went next to my bicycle, took my clothes off and run towards the sea.
The sea is not clear in this part of Tunisia, it is mostly cloudy and there are algae everywhere. Back from swimming I was covered with algae. I really don’t like this at all. But nothing to do. Today, I sweated a lot in the forest and got tired, then the volleyball game on top of it. I went next to my bicycle to dry myself. The kiosk owner brought a chair and a table and also a toasted sandwich. He didn’t want any money for that. Aha, where have you been bro. At the end I saw the hospitability of Tunisia.
While eating this sandwich old memories came in my mind. I found myself in our summer cottage. In France I visited Anil, my childhood friend. I had started to play volleyball at the beach when I was a 12-15 years old boy. What games we had played. Of course, I continued to play volleyball then after. That is, I’m a 10 fold better volleyball player compared to cycling. I played as a setter for years. Well, nobody guided us in the high school “Come on, you’ll do it, you’ll succeed, don’t give up”, so it ended up among the played but not progressed sports. Anyway, doesn’t it happen always the same way? Wouldn’t you like to have a person next to you who believes in you and supports you? Whatever we do, don’t we need examples of success stories that will encourage us? Just a word of one of these people would fire you up. Well, who did fire me up? Two of my friends believed in me, when I told them that I’ll go to Japan. One of them was Fatih Yuksel. He had said: “You’ll do it, I believe in you”. And he was serious in that. The other was Enes Sensoy. I had attended a bicycle festival in 2009 together with Ayse Yildiz (you know she accompanied me in Morocco). Afterwards we had stayed in Marmaris for a while. As we, Ayse, Onur and me were sitting around the swimming pool a young man came next to us (hahaha). This was the guy swinging back and forth during the tour.
– Hi mates. What are you doing? Are you still here? Don’t you leave?
Ayse and Onur had known him before.
– We’ll stay for a couple of days.
He straight away hobnobbed with us. “I’ll stay also, then”. Even I shared my room with him. The next day we had climbed to Turunc with Tolga, our friend from Marmaris. At that time “Carian coast bike tour” hadn’t existed yet. Tolga Gok explaining us his ideas at that time, is now organizing the fourth tour. He even gave my name to one of the routes while I was on the road to Japan (but then after that route was canceled due to difficulty rating I guess). Anyway, back at the hotel I was wondering what this guy would say to my Japan by bike plan. To him, because he talked uninterrupted while riding on the bike. I realized that he had a deep knowledge about bicycle and cycling. At that time I was only able to repair flat tires. : )
– Enes, after new year I’ll set off to Japan by bicycle.
– Hum. You’ll do it.
– Yes, you’ll do it. Why not, taking the right gear.
– Thanks bro!
That’s it. If someone believes in you, you’ll be successful in whatever you do throughout your life. A couple of encouraging words from people next to you would be enough. (By the way, I send my articles to Caglar before sharing on my home page for correction and she resends me after reading them. This time she attached a message. “Dude, you donkey! When you said you’ll go to Japan I also believed in you!!!” My dear Caglar, she has a special place in my heart. Anyway, I had told about her in my Jordan memories. Here! I do my best but can’t make up to her.. I kiss you with a big hug)
That night I stayed at the marvelous beach of Sounine. Next morning, we opened our kiosks at the same time with the young boys. After a small morning talk, I set off again. I must mention that the roads on north of Tunisia are somewhat rough going up and down. But not as steep as that of Algerian coast line, smoother and more pleasant.
In the capital I’ll stay at our embassy. But since it is closed on Saturday, it may be better to spend the day around city center. Surfing in internet at a rest area I found out that there was a Hi Hostel in the city. I made my reservation and got the coordinates and entered them on my GPS. Then I ordered Garmin: “Take me to my hostel.” : ). The capital city was not so far but as I recognized from the GPS its center is like a labyrinth, therefore using GPS to find the right spot is not a bad idea. : )
As I was riding and looking around the chain slipped from 6 to 8 but then back to 6. What’s that dude? While I was wondering the same happened again. I looked down between my legs to the chain, it seemed normal. But as the chain started slipping up and down the gear I slowed down and stopped aside. Hummm. I looked at the gear and chain both seemed alright. I went to the back of the bicycle and took a look from there. Just as I was thinking that everything was normal I saw that the cassette slipped towards the front. Ups… I shook the cassette to the sides with my fingers. Oooo, dude, it became dislocated! I guess I forced the bike too much on the sandy road, so the cassette became dislocated.
I removed the tire. Checked the cassette lockring with my fingers. Well, it really got loosened. Let me tighten it. I screwed it clockwise one tour. Then, another. It had to be tightened but kept on turning. I didn’t try a second time. Shit??? I removed the cassette. What the hell is this? You must have seen my look. The part of the Freehup, the shaft onto which the cassette is mounted, was broken. I was faced with such a situation for the first time. Why and how did this part break down? If you overdrive while climbing it may break down. I’m afraid to look at my GPS data, how many kilometers did this freehup climbed till yet? Well, check that where can I find this shit in this country? Check that, where can I find a new freehup? I don’t think, I’ll find any in Tunisia. What to do, what to do? I picked a leaf from a branch of a tree, large enough to fit, placed it on the cassette and then tightened together with the lockring. : ). It’ll work for a temporary period. Most likely it’ll loosen whenever I overdrive again. The last 20 km, this will work till the city, I hope. Hereby, travelling in Tunisia by bike is over. Let me move towards the capital.
An cultivated field caught my attention before I left this place. A family was selling sugar melons on a tractor under the shadow of the trees. Let’s eat a melon and talk to the family. I got out of the road and jumped in to the field. Then, immediately under to shadow of the trees. The children sitting next to their grandfather got surprised. The old man had a nice smile on his face. He came next to me and asked:
– Are you Turk?
– Yes amca (uncle in Turkish) I’m Turk.
He turned his face to his grandson and started to talk. His grandson continued to talk in English right after this moment. His ancestor came in 1738 to this region from inner Anatolia as an officer. Since then they had been living in this region. Of course, they became assimilated in due time. This field was passed from their ancestors. I ate two small very tasty sugar melons. I tried to pay but they didn’t accept any payment.
Well, people in these regions have always sympathy and respect to the Turks. But they neither want the Ottomans back nor any Turkish leadership in this region.
This is a “Gurkan Genc grants bicycle” and “Foreign language scholarship for residents of Ankara” question.
The right answer was given by Baris Dalgic, Mert Ali Guller, Yetkin Tozlu and Gorkem Yeni
I accept the answers to the question I have asked on December 12th 2014 given only between 1:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. You will find the e-mail address in the above links. I don’t accept the answers sent to another e-mail address or outside the time line given. I even don’t reply such e-mails! Now the question: “Through how many countries participating in World War I has Gurkan Genc cycled? Please mention at least one front in each country” Good luck. And also please write to which grant you apply: Language scholarship or bicycle.
Now, let me go towards the city and fall asleep in my hostel. : )