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Amasya to Sivas


I had had enough of museums for a while and when the next morning dawned mainly overcast I gave up any further diversionary plans and jumped on a bus for Sivas. It was during my night in Amasya that another misfortune had dawned on me. Since leaving Ankara I had basically been making a beeline for Erzurum in the far east and its Iranian Consulate, but I now realised that I would hit it right at the start of the weekend. And being Iranian I didnt know if they would also be closed on Fridays, their holy day. Contemplating the alternatives there were stark choices to be made. It was only Wednesday today but the soonest I would be able to apply for the visa would be the following Monday. I perhaps could have just made it if I'd headed immediately direct for Erzurum but that would have rather negated the point of being there, I wanted to see stuff on the way after all. It basically meant that I could either take my time even though I was way behind schedule, or come up with a detour in the meantime. That presented its own set of problems but the Black Sea coast was one obvious tangent. First of all though I had certainly decided to go to Divrigi, a small poorly served town in the middle of the mountains. From what scant information I could collate on travel connections it didnt look good.

The road from Amasya to Sivas was a scenic affair. We passed by many tomato groves and trees in autumnal colours, many more tractors pulled sugar beet. The roadside houses were noticably of a different squarish plan with red tiled roofs and whitewashed in the main, it was reminiscent of the Balkans. In the centre of tiny Turhal, houses climbed up the side of a rock plug and we passed through the functional town of Tokat. The mountains had steadily started to encroach from all sides. It was around here at a spot known these days as Zile that Julius Caesar came one day and made his famous "Veni,vidi,vici" declaration. Me, I came, I saw, I conked out.

Another convenient lift from the Otogar later and I was in central Sivas, a big university town about the size of Dundee. At mid distance across the country it had a reputation as being where the influence of the east could now be seen to be making serious inroads, it was a halfway house. The headscarf count had gone up, women in Purdah could be seen for the first time in numbers and some of the men had started to wear funny hats. Thankfully, it still also had young things in tight jeans though. I rebelled against the straightjacket guidebook one more time and went in search of an anonymous pensionhouse.

Although by now I at least had the tricky standard phrase "Pardon, anlamiyorum" (sorry, I dont understand) down pat, the young boy on duty at the hotel freaked and amidst verbal dhiorrea dragged me heavily loaded around the whole joint looking for someone who spoke English. If he had just chilled out I might have managed, I had done so everywhere else, but we finally stumbled upon "Jımmy", a boy who taught English at the Uni. He explained to me that the place was really a long term doss house for students and so they werent used to walk-in custom. This being Turkey however they would quite happily take my money off me though all the same. With no guide price it still took a while to get a reasonable deal and I found myself in a top bunk in a 3 bed dorm with 2 young good natured Turkish boys. Stuck with no common tongue we resorted to consulting their high school French phrasebook and bounced meagre phrases off each other. The freshly appropriate "the room is too small" went down well, very entertaining. More good timing too, an Arsenal match had just started on TV, the international language which really helped the mix. Rather than try to explain the backpacker culture and what the hell a Scottish postman was doing here I had fallen back on the old chestnut of calling myself a French teacher. I was a history student too sometimes, most convenient. Arsenal missed a barrel load of chances against CSKA Moscow and the game ended 0-0.

Posted by andyhay 23:00 Archived in Turkey

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