The next morning I arrived in Turkey, but I soon realised that the odds for getting in again were rather low, because the same two policemen were doing the passport control. I told them I had no passport and wanted to enter Turkey with my ID-card. They gave me a strange look and sent me to the visa office. Five minutes later I returned with a big smile and a new 3 month visa, ready for an entry stamp. Unfortunately there was one flaw in the plan: they asked for my exit stamp of Cyprus, which had been put in my passport. The only option I had was acting like I miraculously found my passport again and hand it to the police. Since I’m far from being a good actor it didn’t take them too long to figure out what I was trying. They gave me eight days to leave turkey.
So there I was standing, with an almost expired visa, and a worthless bike, in Taşucu , a town that I already started hating some weeks before. After weighting my options for a while I concluded that three months in Cyprus was the best way to go. I even started liking that idea: make some money, find a new bike and go go go! The same evening I hopped on a bus to Istanbul, to pick up some stuff and spend my last week in my second home.
It was a bit strange to arrive in that metropolis again: two months of cycling, quickly undone by a 15 hour bus ride. Spring had arrived and the city had changed. There was an enjoyable atmosphere on the streets, but it was very crowded, causing too many impulses for my poor brain that had adapted to the rural life again during those two months…
But, back to bureaucracy. One week later I was in Taşucu again, ready to take the ferry. I had overstayed my visa for one day because there was no boat on Saturday, that couldn’t be that big of a problem, could it? To make it short: I was denied boarding the ship by those same two idiots because you need a Turkish visa to enter Northern Cyprus – which is a lie. Needless to say I was furious, but discussing it was a waste of time. All they could say was it was my problem and I should stop bothering them. And there I was standing again, without a plan. And yet another road had been blocked…
Since I had to leave the country as soon as possible I cycled overnight to Mersin, the next town with ferry connection to Cyprus. There, the border police told me that I’d overstayed my visa for 10 days, and I had to pay a 335 YTL fine – they said that the police of Taşucu had made a mistake by giving me 8 more days. I told them that I didn’t plan to pay anything and went to the foreign police office. There they calculated a 82 YTL fine but they were not able to persuade the stubborn border police. After some days I decided that I had no options – the clock was ticking – and went to the port to let them recalculate the fine with the extra days included. When they told me that I wasn’t allowed to go to Cyprus I couldn’t believe what I heard. It was obvious that they had called the Taşucu police, who were putting a lot of effort in stopping me from entering Cyprus – or am I being paranoid?
Another road blocked, and I was told that the only way to leave Turkey was flying back to Belgium, after paying a high fine. No option! I called the embassy and they said I could start a resident permit procedure instead, which I did soon after. I didn’t expect it but tomorrow I can pick up that piece of paper, good for another 6 months in Turkey. I didn’t even have to pay anything for the days I overstayed! Life is good again, now all I have to do is find a solution for the bike problem.
I’ve barely cycled last month, and spent more time waiting in offices and standing in queues. What frustrates me the most is that all those people behind their desks just quickly tell you what you want to hear, so you move on, and they can continue watching the clock till they can go home. Special thanks to:
- the lady in the Fergün Shipping office, who assured me that I could get a new Turkish visa in Cyprus. I didn’t get one.
- the guy in the office, who guaranteed me that I could enter Turkey with my identity card again. I couldn’t get in.
- the border police in Taşucu, who told me I had to leave Turkey in 8 days. Cyprus was an option. The following week they didn’t let me board the ship. Expect a postcard!
- the border policeman in Mersin, who promised me that if I paid the fine, going to Cyprus and staying there for 3 months would be no problem at all. After that time I could buy a new visa for Turkey. The very next day that man didn’t let me board the ship.
Do those people sleep at night?