“Sklopka ne dela” / “The clutch is not working”

So we headed out of Istanbul and said bye to the staff of Bahaus hostel-it was about 10am and the first kilometers were flying by fast. But of course the fun didn’t last long – when we came near the bridge over to the Asian side of Istanbul there was a huuuuge traffic jam. All the cars were stopped and all the horns were playing their melodies. We stepped out of the cars and bonded with the drivers of the trucks and vans “parked” around us.


The traffic jam

After about two hours we noticed some cars on the left were slowly moving. We somehow managed to communicate with the truck driver on the left to let us pass infront of him and go the lane that was moving. Just before the toll gate everyone started to mask their number plates with duck tape/newspaper or some people simply unscrewed them. We followed the pattern and borrowed some duct tape from a dutch car infront of us.

We slowly moved over the bridge and saw the cars on the right were stuck there for at least a couple of hours – some truck drivers even formed a small improvised field and passed around a football.

Later on the roads were really empty as we drove towards Samsun but nothing interesting happened until our lunch break. We stopped next to a mosque which doubled as a supermarket in the ground floor, next to it there was a nice diner where we had some melemen and kavurmasi, it was tasty and the price was okay.

The landscape in inner Turkey from Istanbul towards Samsun

While eating a young guy with his family tried to communicate with us and asked if we can roll him a cigarette, we did and had great fun with trying to exchane a couple of sentences. We soon started the engine once again and drove through some amazing landscape. One of the highlights on the way was a van that carried 5 people on the roof and there was at least  another 10 or 12  people inside.

Our new friend infront of the mosque/supermarket

As the sun went behind we came close to Samsun and decided to find a place to sleep, we drove to the centre and asked people on the streets for a cheap hotel, nobody really spoke english and we were in search for quite some time, we finally found a guy in a hotel that spoke some english – he had his place booked out but took us to another place up the road and called the owner who was already asleep but came to show us the rooms. We negotiated to all sleep in one room (with 4 beds) for about 8 euro per person, but when he took us to our rooms he gave us 2 (first the price for two rooms was around 14 euro per person). After a tasty durum kebab for dinner we headed for “cay” and coca cola and then we went to bed.

We woke up around 8am, had a shower and went for breakfast, we had some borek and ayran. Afterwards we stopped for a morning cay next to the place where we slept and had a debate about football with the bartender and the owner of the hotel.

While driving to Trabzon and listening to Eyeceeou, Azra, EKV, Victor Wooten and other amazing music suddenly while standing at the traffic light in the suburbs of Trabzon Peter yelled “The clutch is not working” (“Sklopka ne dela”). We pushed the car to the side of the road next to a car wash. Some guys came to help, the one who we really need to mention is Ersen Demirui, he helped us out for about 2 hours and didn’t want any money for it. He called to different mechanics around town and even called a friend with a small truck to pull us to the mechanic. They tied the rope to our axis and then Ersen took the wheel and we safely arrived at the Fiat service. He helped us to arrange everything with the staff, we  were even allowed to park the van at the back of the service and they said we can put up our tents or sleep in the van. Ersen then parted and left us his number to call him the next day – when they started work on the van if we have any problems.

Ersen helping us out right after our clutch went dead

We then went for lunch to a place across the road called “Kebabistan 2″ – the food and service was amazing and the prices were low – if anyone gets to spend a night at the backyard of Fiat Trabzon we can recommend it :).

Then we went looking for beer and found an alcohol shop about 200meters  away from our “camp”.

We went back and chilled out at the backyard. I decided to go for a walk by the beach and believe it or not met a turkish guy who lives in the USA for the last 34 years and owns a mechanic shop in New Jersey. He was called Dzengis, we talked for about half an hour and he invited us all for cay later in the evening.

He also offered to help and supervise the work on our car the following day – coincidence worked its wonders on us – breaking the clutch 2kilometers from an official Fiat service and next to a guy who speaks good english wants to help and has mechanical skills – simply amazing.

 The backyard at Fiat service Trabzon, where we spent the night

After the cay with Dzengis we went back to our camp and started drinking the “Bus pure šnops”. The fiery drink kept our conversation alive and the majority of us went to sleep at around 3AM.

Good night.

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