After three weeks in Mersin, I finally managed to sneak out and continue. I headed straight north to gain some altitude as quick as possible, because the heat had started to be unbearable. A bit later, in Tarsus, I got ripped of for the first time. I stopped to eat something in what later appeared to be a shady suburb of the town. There was a big enthusiastic crowd, asking me the regular questions, and I got guided into a restaurant where they gave me a free meal. When I was outside again, the atmosphere had changed drastically: there was silence, and an older man advised me to move on. At first glance, nothing seemed to be missing, so I followed his advice. A few hundred meters further, I quickly scanned my bags, a bit more attentively this time, and noticed my camera had been stolen. While shouting some curse words, I turned back and noticed a man had been following me. He told me that some children had taken it, and he would get it back for me. I thanked him, but soon it became clear that he wanted money for his actions, because ‘chasing children in this weather is a hard job’. It also became clear that he was already in possession of the camera, so very likely there were no children involved. Our hero overpriced his imaginary services ridiculously, and some of his assistants arrived at the scene, to increase the pressure a bit. Luckily the bunch of them weren’t highly skilled negotiators, and I managed to buy my camera back for the equivalent of 8 euro. But that terrible feeling of being ripped off kept following me for the rest of the day.
The same evening my mood got boosted by a friendly old man, called Osman, who invited me in his shack, that he’d built himself. The heat kept me there for another day, almost entirely spent in the kitchen. Osman liked cycling himself, and after preparing me an amazing breakfast at 5 in the morning, he wanted to join me for a while. We slowly climbed together for 20 kilometres, me carrying my load, him carrying his age. It was impressive to see a 69 years old man riding a bicycle like that.
The rest of the week I spent limping my way to Göreme, unable to find a replacement for my broken 28 inch tyre. Finally arriving there I got stopped by Soha and Somaye, an Iranian couple on their 2 year bicycle-honeymoon, who were waiting for their Shengen-Visa, which they unfortunately didn’t get, as I heard later. The same evening the three of us got invited by a waiter and his father, to spend the night at their place. We accepted, and they drove us to a small house somewhere in a valley. We had a nice evening, including some great Cappadocian wine, but the next day I found out that all my money had been stolen by our friendly host. Arriving at the restaurant where he worked, he immediately confessed. He looked very nervous and assured me that the money would be there the next day. I didn’t expect that someone would ever quit his job to run away with more or less 50 euro, but I was wrong: the next day one of his colleagues told me that was exactly what he’d done, and they had no further information on him. I only had a name, and some vague memories of the directions to his house, one hour by car from Göreme.
I Cycled around for 3 days, looking for the house, stopping in every village to drink a tea. I couldn’t find the house, but the oldies in the tea houses provided me with a lot of information about the man. I wasn’t chasing the money any more, this was a battle for justice. I can imagine that most people would give up chasing 50 euro quickly, if that would cost them half of their days in Cappadocia. But he tricked the wrong tourist, one with a bottomless amount of free time.
I damaged his reputation during those days, and when I had just enough information to go to the police I went back to Göreme. I was surprised to see him working in the restaurant again, apparently the colleague had lied to me – for his share of the big catch? When I told him I would go to the police, he said me he’d get the money, but he escaped once again. Finally his boss gave me the money and would keep it from his wage later.
After the case was closed, I spent another week exploring Kapadokya, including a free but irresponsible visit to one of the famous underground cities – they were restoring the site, and one of the workers gave me a flashlight and showed me the entrance. This thing was huge! Later I got hosted by Alkım in Nevşehir, who’d hosted some of the cyclists I’d met in Istanbul during this cold winter. Days became weeks, and weeks became a month. Apart from a few small expeditions we made, I have to admit that I’ve been very lazy last month. At least my bike has some new parts now, and I’m about to continue cycling. I decided to leave some stuff here, but that is probably compensated by the weight I gained, consuming all the delicious food we prepared together.