Unlike yesterday’s rush, we can finally stop here and there, geography also giving us a helping hand. From Alaplı we immerse ourselves into the hills once more. You thought Romanians were hospitable?! Hmm, wait till you see the Turks. The first village we stop in we’re mistaken for Russians and welcomed by the village elders, a big smile on their faces. Higher up in the mountains, on a logging site from Adana, the sawyers call out to a colleague who can speak a bit of Romanian and he explains to the others who we are and where we’re headed. A little lower, an old man and his wife are taking a lunch break on the edge of a plot of land where they had planted potatoes and beans. We’re offered tea and invited to join them.
We reach Yığılca near the highway and, for a while, we drive parallel to it. Then we enter the straight road to Ankara. Yesterday’s chaos is history. Except for us, not a soul on the highway. Up in the sky, two fighter planes are doing somersaults, chasing each other in circles. We stop for coffee at a diner with a parking lot. I put the water to boil in the restaurant; nobody minds it. We sit on the restaurant terrace and eat the home-made cake we bought along. In front of the restaurant, a worker is keeping himself busy with a hose near our car. I think out loud: ‘With so much free stuff, it would be something to have our car washed on the house.’ And whad’ya know, that’s exactly what the Turk does. A large grin on his face, the man grabs hose and brush and starts to wash the car. We instantly think we might have fallen into some tourist trap, so I go to thank him and give him three liras. The washing lasts ten more minutes and then, the same grin on his face, the Turk opens the doors, closes them one by one and, with a rag, keeps rubbing the car that has slowly set itself into motion.