Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Men with Smiles and Frowns

At 7 this morning we were collected from our guesthouse in Istanbul by two men who spoke next to no English and went on our way.

Packed into their little black van were another Aussie his ?Belgian wife from Biloela and two Italians (people, not cars). After about 20 minutes navigating roads stacked with the 6 inches of snow that had fallen over night it became glaringly obvious that we weren't heading to the bus station as expected.

Using the best of my ingenuity and the survival phrases in the back of the guide book i managed to say ''excuse me? 1 hour? 2 hour''.

The man with the frown in the driver's seat turned around and said ''road problem'' in English, referring I assume to the 6 inches or more of snow that fell overnight. The man with the smile in the passenger seat said ''Cannakale 5 hours'' in Turkish and held up 5 fingers. That, it seemed was that. The Italians turned to me for a translation and it seemed that was the first any of us knew that this little black van would be taking us all the way down the Gallipoli Peninsula.

After doing their best to kill us on the snowy roads, the men with smiles and frowns decided to put snow chains on about half an hour before making a pit stop (about 3 hours into the drive). As the self-appointed translator the man with the smile look at me and said ''half-hour'' in Turkish and they disappeared.

Not long after hitting the road again one chain flew off and we stopped in the middle of the highway. The man with the frown hopped out, left the door open, lit a cigarette and started walking back to collect it. Luckily the man with the smile showed a flash of brilliance in sliding over and driving us to the side of the road.

After hours driving through cold snow covered fields, we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves, even wondering aloud what it must have been like for people in the campaign who must have experienced far worse than our little tourist joyride in a heated car.

But now the sun is out, the snow is beginning to melt and I can see the sea.

Sent from my glorious e71 which is most definitely not an iPhone!

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