• 20 November 2018

My experiences riding from Santiago, the capital city of Chile, towards north of the country.  I had to ride at this pace and this misfortune had had to happen.

My experiences riding from Santiago, the capital city of Chile, towards north of the country.  I had to ride at this pace and this misfortune had had to happen.

My experiences riding from Santiago, the capital city of Chile, towards north of the country.  I had to ride at this pace and this misfortune had had to happen. 1024 1024 Gürkan Genç

It was time to set off. This time I’ll travel with an old friend of mine, with Elif Uzer. I had met Elif in 2011 in Istanbul at a Mountain Film Festival. She was the person who had invited me to this program. At the exit she came to me and told me that she wanted to set off for a long bike tour and whether she can do it or not? I said: “You can” and she started to travel from Miami, North America in October 2012 towards South America.

I followed her travel as much as I could. We chatted for many years from one country to the other country and at the end we coincided in Santiago in Chile. She was riding to the south and I was riding to the north. But we decided to ride together for a while and cross the Atacama Desert.

Well, at this point I want to share a brief information about how I travel. People already konw that I never call someone to ride with me but only my friends or that I like to ride solo. I’m not a good companion as many people assume. People may get bored riding with me. Enes Sensoy in his “Travel with Gürkan Genç” and Engin Kaban in his “Riding with Gürkan Genç”  wrote about the travel they had with me.

  • I wake up early in the morning at 6 a.m. or latest at 7 a.m.
  • I mix 200 g of muesli with cold water and add bananas or chocolate powder depending on what I have.
  • Depending on weather conditions I either have my breakfast inside the tent or after I have packed up my tent.
  • I don’t have habits like having morning coffee or tea. I never boil water in the mornings. Furthermore, I don’t have the habit of drinking evening coffee or tea. In short, I don’t like hot drinks.
  • It takes 20 minutes to have breakfast and pack up my tent. Waking up, I’ll be ready to set off in 30 minutes at most. Even traveling within a group, I never wait for someone because the cyclists I’m riding together can take care for themselves.
  • If there are places worth for sightseeing, taking photos in my camping area, I first go there take photos and then set off.
  • I don’t like to talk during a ride. If possible, we chat where we stop.
  • If I’m riding together with some and have headwind, I ride in a paceline (I ride in front to shelter my fellow rider behind me). Every 1o km, I change the position so that we both can rest riding behind each other. This should be the way. If the pace is low, I keep riding on the front and pull my team mate all along.
  • I stop for lunch after riding 50 km, light the stove and boil water and cook my meal. I also cook for my team mate, if he/she doesn’t show up, I eat all of it. Most possibly he/she had stopped and eaten. I would never expect that he/she keeps up with my pace, no other touring cyclist would expect this. Also, I won’t get worried whether he/she is hungry because he/she would be carrying necessary provision and equipment.
  • I pass the barren areas where there is nothing worth for seeing at higher speed compared to that of a loaded bicycle. This is quite normal since I’m on the road for the last 8 years. By this way, I carry less water and food.
  • My daily average speed is 20 km/h on a road with 1000 m climb and after 5 hours riding time, I end the ride. Sometimes I ride for shorter periods.
  • I ride at 15-18 km/h speed on 6-8 % slopes with loaded bicycle. I don’t climb sitting on the saddle but standing on my feet throughout the climb. I don’t stop for a rest no matter whether the slop is 200 m or 1000 m long because I don’t like ride after my muscles cool down.
  • As I don’t rush to arrive in somewhere, I also don’t bother where I overnight. I know that I can find a suitable place to set my tent no matter the conditions are, at coldest, hottest or most windy weather. I don’t bother myself on this.
  • My dinner composes mostly of pasta and tuna fish. From time to time I cook rice. After dinner, I always but always read a book no matter how tired I’m, I read at least one page. Since 2013, I carry a Kindle (e-book reader) with me, you can find information about it on my equipment page.
  • When my visa is due to expire, I ride at a pace higher than my usual touring pace.
  • I take photos of nature, bicycle, myself or other interesting things during my travel. I don’t record a documentary. I prefer to write road memories. I have a good digital archive. Generally, I share just as much as I think is worth.
  • When I wake up in the mornings, at nights after setting up my tent and resting during the day, I chat with my companion sharing our experiences with each other and commenting on the daily news. I also share my new ideas, works or experiences.
  • In the cities where I stay overnight, I stay at fire stations, churches, mosques, schools or at the houses of warnshowers.org or www.couchsurfing.com members.
  • If I’m writing a blog, then I need a place where I can be on my own for 3-4 day having electricity and WIFI connection.
  • I don’t care how long the level road is, how many meters I need to climb or how many km’s are left to stop. After setting off, I stop if I get tired or come to a place worth to stay. If I like the place very much, then I set up my tent just there.
  • I don’t have problems with climbing the slopes, can be long and steep. I also don’t prefer to ride only on paved road. I’m fine if I don’t see any settlements for days. I don’t get worried about such issues and I’m always prepared for unexpected things to happe.

In short, I may not a good companion for many people. Some of the issues I mentioned in the above list might be annoying for many people. Therefore, I prefer solo traveling. If you set off for such a journey, I advise you to prefer to be on the road with people sharing the same and enjoying the same things as you do. There are people who like to keep traveling at the same pace and the same way, but I’m not the only person traveling as such.

Elif Uzer is a cyclist traveling for the last 6 years. She has overcome many misfortunes having great experiences. The issue “experience” is important. At this point, our travel with Elif is somewhat different than that I have listed above. She is one of my friends whose way of travel, average speed, what she likes and doesn’t like, I know. How many Turkish women had crossed the Atacama Desert from south to north and from west to east so far? Therefore, for me, it is much more important that Elif crosses the desert rather than I’ll. I’m happy to accompany her. Therefore, I tried to avoid applying the whole list I’ve given above during my travel with Elif.

The south Chileans say that the north Chileans harsher and are less hospitable. You may find this kind a conversation in every country. In almost every country, the northerners say to southerners and visa versa such words. This a situation to be researched by sociological point of view: “We are different”. We can extent this to other subjects. During our travel with Elif I never paid for a hotel or for accommodation. Fire stations, churches, people inviting us seeing on the road or via apps. People giving us fruits, vegetables, drinks. People sharing their summer rental houses. We met amazing people. Some really made us astonished.

For example, we found hosts via Warmshowers app in La Serena. Sending a message to them, Elif said:

  • Gurkan those people didn’t connect to the app for months, they may not reply.
  • Well, just send a message, they may see and reply.

In the meantime, Elif and I keep sending messages to the people to host us through the app. Jean and Herman replied to our message in La Serena and sent us their address. The address was in an area of single-family houses. The door number of the house was 1074… We were checking the numbers: 1071, 1072, 1073, 1075… Well, where is 1074? We look at the left and right sides of the houses, can’t find the house. This is a street where similar houses were built in an enclosed area. Dude let’s ring the door of one of the houses and ask for the address. There was no one at the house so we sent a message to Jean. Jean sent a photo of the entrance door of her house. This was the photo of a huge door at the concrete wall stretching along the street just at the opposite side of the houses.

  • How come? A large field in the middle of the city? Automatic doors, wire fences and high concrete walls.


As a long term Warmshowers user, I must say that I haven’t been hosted in such a house before. We entered a huge farm with two amazing wooden houses and large field filled with orange and mandarin trees. Herman and Jean welcomed us at the door. The classical welcome by the people hosting cyclists via Warmshowers:

  • Showing a place for bicycles
  • Hugging and introduction (very briefly)
  • Showing the room where you’ll stay, bathroom and washing machine. Then saying, take your time and we talk later.

After one or one and a half hour we went to them. They immediately offered us snacks and drinks. By the way, the room we were staying in was on the second floor full of avocados. Herman is producing citrus fruits, olives and avocado in his field. Jean is a regional representative of a food processor, Vorwerk. That was a high-tech food processor which made me and Elif astonished. We got surprised to see what Jean prepared using this processor. If I had the opportunity, I would have sent one of this food processors to my mother via online shopping. Besides this, every corner of the house was full of either antiques or historical artifacts and the decoration of the house was amazing.

  • Herman these arrow heads are very old and valuable, I think they have a high archeological value. Aren’t there legislations on this issue in your country?
  • There are a lot of those arrow heads in the La Serena museum. We have found these arrow heads during our walks in this region but there is no place in the museum to display them. If we would give them to the museum, they’ll put them in a storage room.
  • Well, what about the pieces you have found under the sea?
  • They are also not valuable things which we have discovered during scuba diving into old wracks.
  • This tooth fossil on the wall? Is this the tooth of a dinosaur?
  • Tooth of Megalodon.
  • Megalodon, you mean the extinct species of shark Megalodon?
  • Wow! From where did you find the tooth fossil and not just one?

In short, the decoration of the house and the artifacts in the house, hospitability, everything was amazing. When we asked whether they were exporting their produce they told us they were selling their whole produce only inland. The taste of these fruits were very delicious. Honestly, I liked the idea that they were selling such good produce to their own people and not exporting.

For example, once I sent a message to Matias living in the city Zapallar en route over Warmshowers.

  • Gurkan I’m not at home. The keys are at my sister, she is staying there. She’ll help you
  • Thank you very much Matias.

In Zapallar, Matias’ sister Valentina welcomed us. They hosted us in a beautiful house where we could rest. By the way, this small town had the best houses I have seen on the coast line so far. We saw the most luxury houses along this 10 km coastal line. The architecture of those houses had caught my attention resembling to that I had seen German villages.

In the past, the immigrants who came to the south of Chile owned also houses here. I had mentioned about the amazing houses in the South in the wilderness. Valentina and her family owned a trade business in the town and therefore knew the people and were informed about who was coming or going in the town. Once, while we were chatting: “The owners of the houses you see here are the same of the houses you have seen in the south. We know that many people also own a house in Patagonia.”

Continuing the hospitability issue; there were people who gave us the key of their houses, firefighters allowing us to sleep at fire stations, priests who allowed us to stay in churches, people who invited us to their homes seeing us on the road. I was already traveling as such, staying at people’s houses. I admit say that this hospitability issue was proved to be true when we were two. What I’m trying to say is that the discourse on northerners are cold people and southerners are warm in every country is full of prunes. Believe me, in every country it is the same. Big-hearted people having the opportunity to host, would invite travelers like us to their homes and make use of their experiences.

I had arrived in the mining city Copiapo located at the skirts of the Ojos del Salado volcanic mountain crossing the San Francisco Pass in Chile on March 20th, 2018. Arriving in the city I said: “It’s enough! I take a break and then continue after a few months from here” and had returned to Santiago. Then, I had set off from Santiago on October 1st, 2018 and arrived in Copiapo on October 26th, 2018 this time together with Elif.

In Copiapo we spent two days with two young people at their 20s and their families who invited us to their home via Couchsurfing. From their parents we learned that olive oil was produced in this region, that the old railway was bought by a private company to be renovated, that they were leaning toward Pinochet’s period, that they had chaotic family relations. We also visited their vineyards.

Marselo from Warmshowers was to host us but since he was on the road with his motorbike in Patagonia, he had given the keys of his apartment to his friend Alan and told us we could stay there. During our stay we tried to fix the regulator attached to the dynamo which stopped working. Since repair work prolonged, our home stay also prolonged. In the meantime, my visa is due to expire.

One day, I was so bored that I removed every single piece on the bicycle, started to clean and tried to fix up the rear rack setup. Meanwhile, Bugra one of my team mates sent me a message:

  • Abi (elderly brother in Turkish), are you alright? You are in Copiapo for days.
  • Everything is alright Bugra, don’t worry. I’m working on the regulator.
  • Let me send you the photo of the rear rack on which working either.

After sending the photo to Bugra, I saw a scratch on the seat tube just where the seat post clamp is which was surrounding the tube. Hmm is this what I’m thinking of?? Yes, the seat tube had cracked. But how come??

After years, the volume of the things carried on a bicycle has decreased. This resulted in smaller panniers and in 2015 a trend called bikepacking has appeared. This trend was quite nice but was not sufficiently developed at that time since this arose some difficulties for the long tourers as me in terms of carrying enough food and water. As the pannier attachment options and number suitable panniers increased my course of action shifting to bikepacking has started. In November 2017, I removed both panniers on the rear rack, keeping only a 20 L capacity bag on top of the rack. In October 2018, I removed the rear rack replacing with a seatpack. The front bag on the left and right are remaining.

This change increased my riding performance to a much higher level but resulted in some troubles. For example, during climbs the seatpack was swaying and sagging. The company producing those bags must have realized this problem since they have included an additional fixing strap.

I made a different setup. At the Piero’s machine shop we attached two steel rods at the bottom of Titanium Brooks saddle which stopped the swaying of the seatpack and attached water cages having 1 L water capacity on each side.  By this way, I prevented the saddle-bag from swaying and was still able to carry 6 L water. There was another problem which I couldn’t foresee what type of a damage it would cause.

Before, when the bicycle fell on one side, the panniers attached on the racks protected the main frame and shift gear from the impact. But now there aren’t any panniers at the back. When the bicycle falls on one side, the saddle directly hits the ground receiving all the impact of the fall. After attaching those steel rods, the impact was directed to the seat post and through it to the seat tube. Well, the rods are steel, the saddle titanium, the tubes thick aluminum, therefore the impact exerted by the hit is directed to the weakest point where the seat post clamp is attached. Therefore, that part of the seat tube on my bike had cracked. Trying to pull out the cracked part, I broke it completely.

I roughly examined the frame. This is not an important crack. An aluminum welder would fix it. A good idea came in my mind to improve the strength of that part. Welding the frame is not a new issue for me. Somewhere in the Netherlands a change was made on the frame and then welded. I rode on my bike for another 30 000 km. As a result, this frame is made to be further developed. We are in a miner city in Chile! I thought there must be an aluminum welder in the town. But we couldn’t find any in the whole city. Dude, I have found a welder even in Africa, how come not here? Afterwards we learn that all the professional welders started to work in the mines for better salary. Hardly, we found a welder at the end. He took a close look at my frame and said we would weld it. I told him about my idea and he approved to do it. He started to weld and after one minute he stopped and said this is not aluminum, the weld does not stick.?????? Dude, how come? I told you applied too much power. The guy readjusted and started to weld again. This time he welded it but due to the flash and the steel tube he inserted into the seat tube we were not able to see what he was doing. After 5 minutes he made a grimace. He removed the steel tube he had inserted into the seat tube, he had completely melted that part due to applying too much weld power and damaged the frame affecting its geometric structure… Dude, it is impossible not to get steamed up. But what to do? I’m not going to write about the rest of the story. That day I really got upset and I don’t want to live that day again writing about it. That’s it. I need a new frame.

We returned home. I took my bicycle inside and placed on the opposite of the table we were sitting at. Elif asked the first question:

  • Gurkan, what are we going to do? You don’t think to continue with this broken frame, do you? The guy has distorted the frame…
  • I don’t know Elif. Let us eat the chocolate and drink something first and calm down.

Nothing to do. Well, it would be better if this hadn’t happened. But every misfortune turns out as an experience which leads me to a better start.

  • You know, the production quantity of this frame is only 3. I had changed the first one after riding 41000 km in Zambia. It seems that I’ll change this one also. This frame made already 35000 km. Both frames were broken while I was parking my bicycle.
  • Well, where do you think to change the bicycle? Where would the new frame be sent to?
  • It seems that I won’t face any problems due to the seat post and the saddle. This won’t break that easy. But, after this moment to use the rear brake would be dangerous. This frame must endure the road till Antofagasta, even let me ride the dirt road part taking me out of the country. Then, I must re-enter Chile. If I cannot cross the border, I must pay 300 USD fine. We need to cross the border till 28th
  • Are you sure? Will this bike take you till there?
  • I’m not sure Elif, we are testing. Furthermore, with the new frame I must change the bag layout on the bike. Formerly, when the bicycle fell the impact of fall was transmitted all over the bike absorbed by the panniers. But now, there aren’t any panniers hanging on both sides of the rear rack and due to the front panniers when the bike falls all the impact is transmitted to the saddle, seat post and to the seat tube. I better make a layout on the rear to absorb the impact of the fall.
  • Well, that is you are continuing.
  • Yes, I’ll. Furthermore, the nearest big capital city is Santiago (1650 km). We’ll order the frame to Santiago and therefore we have to return to Santiago. There isn’t any capital city nearby. I cannot have the frame sent to La Paz the capital city of Bolivia. We got stuck in this country…
  • Haha… Seems so.


I don’t know whether this was a good decision or not. The 350 km long dirt road that we’ll ride on crossing the Atacama Desert from one side to the other, only this part bothers me. This bicycle would endure the paved part of the road but there is a big question mark for the dirt road part. By the way, it is a 600 km ride from Copiapo to Antofagasta.

We officially entered the Atacama Desert. Our goal is to ride for 750 km from south to north on paved road and then for 350 km from west to east on dirt road to Argentine.

There are 4 big cities along the coastal line riding from Santiago to Antofagasta; Vina Del Mar, La Serena, Copiapo and Antofagasta. In all those cities there were bicycle lanes starting from one side of the city stretching to the other end. Furthermore, there were very nice bicycle lanes on the side streets or more were under construction. Especially, the 20 km long uninterrupted bicycle lanes in Copiapo and La Serena and the bicycle lanes continuing outside the cities made us astonish.

By the way, there isn’t any other option but the main road stretching on the coastal line riding to the north. The side road connects to the main road after a while. Since there aren’t any other alternative roads, the cyclists are being allowed to use this road. Well, considering the bicycle culture of this country, one wouldn’t expect the opposite. I saw the most respectful drivers to the cyclists in this country in South America. It is possible to find an equipped bicycle store in almost every city.

Especially after Copiapo, the view of the mountains and the geographical formations change very fast. Furthermore, I started to breathe sand again which I hadn’t for so many years. Sand started to accumulate inside the tent due to sand particles in the air. Well, I don’t like this issue of the dessert. But, still, I do like to ride in the deserts.

Atacama Desert has an altitude ranging from 800m to 1600 m. It is possible to ride on roads at 3000, 4000 and even above 5000 meters while coming closer to the Andes. After Copiapo, the wind blew from south to north (for a few days) and then changed its direction blowing from north to south, that is we got headwind. Since I had already ridden in Fall and Spring seasons, I can say that the direction of the wind remains the same. As in all other desert crosses it was the case, here the wind completely stopped at around 9:30-10 p.m. As the wind starts to blow at 7-8 a.m. in some deserts, it starts to blow at 11 a.m. from north to south in the Atacama Desert. Compared to the winds in Saharan Desert or Gobi Desert, the wind force in this region is weak which is reduced by the Andes.

I didn’t forget to add the camping spots protected from the wind on Ioverlander app for the cyclists riding in this area.

We stop to rest whenever we see a truck parks or places where goods are sold. Riding 60 km a day, we arrive at such places only every 2 or 3 days. Riding on paved road crossing Atacama Desert for 120 km per day on the average, you’ll come up to a restaurant, a truck park or a small village for sure.

  • Gurkan, I think that I have never passed an area on bike without replenishing supplies for such a long period. I rode in deserted areas, but this is somewhat different.
  • This is the paved road part, the unpaved part which is even much better… Because in this area trucks are continually passing by. We can make them stop to ask for water.

One day we set off early. I had forgotten that Elif prepared the meal using the water I had. I thought I had some water. I stopped at 45th km in the noon and started to prepare lunch. I realized that I hadn’t enough water.  I started to ask for water from the passing trucks. Then, Elif came. While I was cooking pasta, she continued to ask for water. At the beginning no one stopped. Then, after a while the trucks started to stop. The first trucks had announced to the others behind through their CB radio system installed in their trucks: “Two idiots run out of water, they are at this bus stop, give them some water if you have”. The trucks having water stopped. This was a good experience. After that day, I increased the water carriage capacity on Elif’s bike. While Elif was carrying 1.4 L water on the frame tubing at the start, I increased it to 5.5 L after this experience. I was good for her and for me also that I know how much water I have.

It is not easy to carry water and food for days on bike. People might say there isn’t so much place on your bike, how are you able you carry that much provision. After correctly placing 7 kg of food, 3 kg of fruits and 9 L of water effortless on my bike in front of Elif’s eyes, Elif said:

  • I still can’t believe how your bicycle can handle that much of provision, it is as if there is a black hole.

The first city to pass is Caldera after exiting Copiapo on the coast side. Caldera is the town opposing the Easter Island when you look on Google Earth.  The Island is 3700 km away from the nearest mainland. But this region has no relation with the Island. An area near Caldera was enclosed as a national park called Stone Zoo due to the animal shaped rocks formed by rain and erosion.

Riding on the Pan American road Route 5 we came up to the ruins of houses which belonged to the British. UK did serious mining work between 1800-1950 in this region. These are the mines established and then abandoned by them. Well, we know what underlines the trade connections of those present mines.

There are the graves of the miners working in the mines between 1850-1940, 50 km ahead of this old settlement. Especially, the number of graves surrounded with small iron cages caught my attention, graves of children. I recognized that the life span of those people was short reading the dates on those graves. It seems that the working conditions in these mines were harsh. I searched in internet about what was mined in this region and for the reason why those people had died at such a young age. I found out that sulfur and nitrate was used to clean the mines. Considering that even today there are companies ignoring the lives of the miners, it is sure there weren’t any safety precautions related to work at those times. Those children might have been affected from their parents who were exposed to these chemicals in the mines and therefore the number of child graves were quite high.

I started to look at graves in the middle of the desert from above via drone. At one point, the emptiness of the desert and those graves coincided in the same screen. The nearest settlement was 200 km away. I sat down next to my bicycle and watched the view for a long time.

The silly questions asked for the last 8 years came in my mind, starting with: “Gurkan, did you ever ask this question yourself”. Whatever I ask or do, that’s I’m going to. Who knows what? Maybe one of these men lying here had created a mechanical device to simplify the work of miners or contributed to other things. But he is here, in the end dead. All the people who haven’t contributed to the inventions changing the history of the world or humanity have been forgotten, even most of those people who made these changes. I’m existing today with all I have done but the rest is just a story… Well, this travel may inspire someone who will make history, who knows?

Before arriving in Antofagasta there was a beautiful sculpture on the righthand side of the road: A hand emerging from the desert sand, Mono del Desierto (the hand of the desert). This 11 m tall sculpture was created by the Chilean artist Mario Irarrazabal Covarrubias in 1992 in the Atacama Desert. Though it looks as if made of sand, it was made of iron and cement.

It is symbolizing the pain and sorrow of the human. It may, but when I saw this sculpture, I thought if the earth had hand and arm, it would have been just at this position. The region was full of holes dug for mining. Isn’t the human who messes up the nature every day? And isn’t the human who always loses the war with the nature?

This hand here made me feel that even at the worst time there is hope. No matter, for the humanity, for the world, for the nature. “I’m here, land a hand, help us, let us do it together.”

I’m happy that I do my best for years. It makes me feel good to know what I’m doing.  Nothing else matters

Before arriving in Antofagasta, we entered a dirt road for 30 km to test the bicycle and arriving in the city we said: “We’ll get prepared to cross the desert”. This time we found a cheap hostel because I had to work on my bicycle. I had to check whether it was in the condition to cross that 350 km long dirt road or not? Dismounting the panniers, the saddle started to move. FURTHERMORE, THERE WAS ALSO A SMALL GAP ON THE SEAT TUBE/SEAT STAYS??. IT LOOKS LIKE THE SEAT STAYS ARE DIVERGING USING THE REAR BRAKES. That’s it. We return to Santiago. No need to take more risk, when the new bicycle arrives, we’ll continue from Antofagasta. I shut down the whole system at this point. I don’t know tin how many days the bicycle would be set up in Turkey. I’m sending this frame after 35 000 km to Atilim University as I did with the first one.  This bicycle would be displayed there and furthermore the engineers would examine and may do a better work (Example: The best dynamo is on this bicycle)

I don’t say that was the end of my travel with Elif, we’ll continue when my new bicycle arrives. I’ll use the last main frame at Gungorler Bicycle Company reserved for me. My friend Oguz from Germany is sending over the new components, Kron and Gungorler Bicycle will set up the bicycle and then send to me.

We stayed only one day in Antofagasta because my visa was due to expire on 28th November, I had to speed up. I can extend my visa only once for 90 days without exiting the country. The visa system works with appointment system. I got an appointment for 29th November and not earlier. I went to the office, but it didn’t help. On Wednesday I’ll go to the office and try once more. This visa extension costs 100 USD. On the other hand, taking a bus to nearest Argentine city and back costs only 70 USD or the other option taking a flight costs 120 USD. The other two options are hitch-hiking or borrowing your friend’s car and exiting the country, but you must spend at least 24 hours at the other side. It will clear up on 21st November. Let’s wait.

The day we arrived in Santiago, Recep from our Embassy sent me a message: “Gurkan come over, here is someone whom I like to introduce you.” Onay Kose. He is from Ankara, graduated from Metallurgy and Materials Science Department of the Middle East Technical University. Before entering the university, he was involved in music. Taking the university entrance exam, he entered that department. Everyone in his family insisted that he goes to university and quits the music business. He said that he would study under only one circumstance: “If you pay for singing lessons, then I’ll study.” Graduating from the university he didn’t give up his dreams. He applied for a scholarship to receive music education and received full scholarship. He didn’t expect that the quality of his voice was that good and after winning the second price in a song contest in Turkey, he went to USA.  After graduation he started to work first at Vienna Opera and then at Berlin Opera under full time contract. Hats off to Onay. On the other hand, he thought that we were mad listening to our story. He invited us to the opera Norma playing in Santiago Opera House.

  • Elif, don’t make a program for the evening, we are going to opera
  • What opera, Gurkan?
  • Don’t make a program. : )

He showed an amazing performance in the four hours long play. We applauded him for long time, yelling “KEEP ON, ONAY”.

  • Onay, does anyone know you in Turkey?
  • No abi, I’m working at Berlin Opera House. They call me from the American Continent, from Europe and I go.
  • How many times did you sing this opera?
  • It was my first performance.
  • Are you serious?
  • Yes abi


Onay Kose, I put his name at the back of my mind. The World is small, we’ll meet somewhere, someday and I hope I will have the opportunity to listen to your performance in one of the new Opera houses to be built in Turkey. I’m glad that I have met you.

At one day we are in the desert and the other day at an opera or I’m bouldering to spend my energy. While returning to this city, I thought there must be a reason and took the road to Santiago. The best was that I could talk to my family and could chat with my father since I had WIFI connection…

“The journey I did with Elif had to be at this pace, it had to be slow. In this adventure that bicycle had to fall, and the seat tube had to crack. In this adventure, the welder had to melt seat tube. riding on the road to Bolivia and nobody could reach me. I wouldn’t have a conversation with my father. All those happened, so I had to return to talk to you… This was my fate…” In this adventure I had to return to Santiago. Otherwise, I would had entered in the desert



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