Shekhkaya – Unnamed rest area at motorway O-52

Everyone woke up with first light and Khalaf and I had breakfast. The girls and women, again, did not eat with us.

Khalaf mentioned that he had business to do in Dohuk, some 30km down the road and my planned destination from yesterday. He offered a ride and I happily accepted.

I decided to skip the visit to Dohuk, though, and instead go directly to Zakho and the Turkish border, which was about 50km from where Khalaf dropped me of.

Trucks started queuing up a couple of kilometers from the border. Border formalities where pretty easy on both sides, and a friendly Iraqi Kurd living in Aachen, Germany, and on vacation in Dohuk made things even smoother by negotiating customs and passport control in Kurdish for me.

I hadn’t even left the border complex on the Turkish side when I was approached by little kids shouting “Bakshish, bakshish”. Welcome to Turkey, eh?

Not 500m after that I was stopped by a truck driver. “Hey, you want a ride? I’m going to Mersin!” Mersin is one of the easternmost port cities on the Turkish Mediterranean coast and it’s en route for me, though about 900km to the west. Within a split second I ditched all my plans for eastern Turkey. “Hell, yeah”, was my reply, approximately, “but I have no [Turkish] money”.
“No, no! No money, no money!”, he said.

Selim is actually an archeologist, but limited employment opportunities in his field made him a truck driver. Our common languages are limited, but somehow we managed to make ourselves somewhat understood. In the afternoon we stopped in Nusaybin and I hoped he’d call it a day here. Nusaybin straddles the Syrian border and had I been on the bike, I would have tried to cross the border to have a look at a Kurdish-Syrian town for a day or two. Well, Selim just met a friend there and I was too hungry to not be eating. After about an hour we continued our road trip.

Until the last minute I did not have the slightest idea how far we were going to go today or where I’d be sleeping tonight. But that’s part of the adventure.

At 10pm we stopped at a rest area at the motorway and went to a hamam. Then we continued some 20km more to another rest station were Selim shared his dinner with me (I still didn’t have any Turkish money to buy my own).
I’m sleeping in the upper bunk bed in the truck. Another first.

Cycled: 60km
Hitched: 461km
Top speed: 72kph

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