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On the road

Fuel

by Matt Krause on April 15, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

This was a solo walk, but there were hundreds of people along the way who helped me, and their combined efforts and support were greater than the work I, just one person, put into it in order to get it done.

No list of people who helped me will ever be complete, but here is a partial one I whipped up yesterday morning:

Alper Rozanes (İstanbul)
Alperşan Atalay (Osmaniye)
Aly Neel (İstanbul)
Asım Dilek (Tatvan)
Aydın Bırık (İstanbul)
Bade Turgut (Tarsus)
Dilan Eraslan (Silvan)
Dilek Fidanoğlu (Tarsus)
Donna Johnson (Tarsus)
Elif Başak Kürkçü (Tarsus)
Emin Okutan (Ankara)
Emine Yüksel (Adana)
Enes Çelik (Aydin)
Eren Çardak (Çardak)
Gülden Eraslan (Silvan)
Hakan Torun (Maraş)
Hoca (Değirmendere)
Hülya Özonen Akgül (Diyarbakır)
Hüseyin Küçüksoykök (Horsunlu)
İlgi Çelik (Osmaniye)
İslam Buğdaycı (Silvan)
Joy Anna Crow (Ankara)
Kelly Hevel (İstanbul)
Lara Apa (Tarsus)
Melanie Mehrer (İstanbul)
Melih Mutluay (Mersin)
Mesut Akgül (Diyarbakır)
Mustafa Ehlasoğlu (Şanlıurfa)
Mustafa Pehlivan (Gaziantep)
Necdet Özer (Horsunlu)
Necmettin Kan (Şanlıurfa)
Neslişah Özdemir (Denizli)
Osman Kaya (İsparta)
Oya Zaimoğlu (Tarsus)
Özgür Aksöğüt (Çardak)
Pınar Seydim (Tarsus)
Sadık Hakan Güriş (İstanbul)
Salih Kapağan (Van)
Sara Ra (Gaziantep)
Stacey Brown (Tarsus)
Thomas Gazzoni (Gaziantep)
Tolga Yanaşık (İstanbul)
Tuba Erayman (İstanbul)
Ümit Aracı (Denizli)
Veli Deniz (Tatvan)
Yonca Akbayrak (İstanbul)
Zerya Alan (Mersin)

Riding the bus to the border

by Matt Krause on April 15, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Breaking a bottle – Mom and Dad

by Matt Krause on April 15, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Mom and Dad, I had to drop a rock on this one, too…

Breaking a bottle for Frank Kleist

by Matt Krause on April 15, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

This bottle broke on the first try…

Breaking a bottle for Christian Stracke

by Matt Krause on April 15, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

A couple kilometers from the Turkey-Iran border, I broke three bottles on the road. This first one didn’t break easily, so I had to throw a rock on it…

Article in Saturday’s Posta newspaper

by Matt Krause on April 8, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Posta is one of Turkey’s national newspapers. Some people look down their noses at it, since it is chock full of photos of half-naked women. In Turkey, though, a newspaper chock full of photos of half-naked women doesn’t mean it’s a Posta, it just means it’s a newspaper.

Anyway, press coverage is press coverage, and I’ll take it where I can get it…

Article in Posta

Article in Posta

Article in Posta

Today is for the last of the 30′s

by Matt Krause on April 3, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Today is for the last of the 30's

For more than 3 months I have been walking mostly 30′s (30 kilometers, or 19 miles, in a day). Today was the last such day. I have two days left, and they are both under 20 kilometers each.

It takes me 6 hours to walk 30 kilometers. I often walk those 6 hours without stopping, not even for a few minutes, not even once. I am amazed and thankful that my hips, knees, and feet can keep moving like that for 6 straight hours, day after day, knock on wood.

The puppy

by Matt Krause on April 2, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

On the way out of Van today I walked past a garbage dump. A bunch of mangy dogs barked at me.

I walked a little further. A puppy, probably only about 10 weeks old, raised its head and started screeching at me. I hadn’t heard a dog make that noise before. “What the…?!” I wondered.

I looked at him closer. He was resting against his dead mother. By the looks of her, she had been hit by a car a couple days before. The flies were starting to settle in.

The puppy continued his screeching. He ran out to greet me. He began following me, running about one step behind me on his little puppy legs. He was clean and fluffy and cute. He did not yet have any of that unkempt manginess that besets dogs living the stray life.

“No, sorry, I can’t help you,” I muttered. I sped up. “Go find some other dogs. I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” I picked up a stick and tried to push him away. I knew if I touched him we would start bonding. But he wouldn’t go away.

A few steps later we passed another puppy, this one slightly older. He was munching on the remains of another dog who had been hit by a car and whose body had been torn open by the impact.

Packs of mangy dogs. Orphaned puppies. Cannibalism. It was like I was walking through a dog version of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

The little puppy continued following me. In fact, it followed me for three kilometers, a full half hour of walking. Every once in a while I would look down and there it was, trying to keep up, running along on its little puppy legs.

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t take care of you,” I tried to explain to it. “I’m going to have to leave you at the end of the day. Go. You have to go.” I felt like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, the movie where he was torn between not getting attached to someone new, and playing father figure to a young Asian kid who needed some help.

I started to get annoyed at the little puppy. I thought, “For 7 months I have been having to say goodbye to people, and now I’m going to have to say goodbye to you too?! I thought I was done with that. I thought I was going to get out of here (finish the walk) without getting attached to more people I was going to have to say goodbye to! What the hell, puppy, don’t ask me to do this!”

Finally, another dog came running across the street at us. This other dog was not happy to have a stranger entering his territory. But then the puppy started screeching that strange, desperate, lonely, orphaned screech of his, and the other dog slowed down. He approached the puppy carefully. The puppy continued screeching, like he was saying, “Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, I just need a home.” My eyes began to water, because there have been times in my life when I have felt like that, too.

The dogs touched noses, as dogs tend to do when they say hello to each other. Three village kids came running out to see what the commotion was about. They saw the puppy and started playing with it. When it looked like the puppy might have found a new home, I walked on.

Video – 2 April, 2013

by Matt Krause on April 2, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Perhaps this video should be called the “God, Matt looks tired” video. ;-)

The camera battery died on me in mid-sentence too, and I didn’t even bother to change to a new battery. I just thought, “I guess we’re done then,” and stuffed the camera back in my bag.

The Last Mile

by Matt Krause on April 1, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Before I came to Turkey I walked 2000 kilometers (1240 miles) just to make sure my body was up to the task of walking 2000 kilometers.

I learned a few simple but important lessons from that experience. Here’s one that’s helping me now…

When I would approach a major milestone (500 miles, for example, or 1000 miles) I would find myself feeling that those miles were more difficult than the miles that preceded them. My spirit would drag. I would have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, or I would have to dig unusually deep to finish the day’s walk.

“Why is that?” I started asking myself. Why is mile 999 harder than mile 257, or mile 676, or mile 819?

I found myself answering, “Well, actually, it’s not. Mile 999 is a mile, just like any of those other miles. So I will walk mile 999 just like I did the miles that preceded it.”

I am using that same lesson here in the final week.

Tomorrow’s 30 kilometers (19 miles) will be just like all the other 30 kilometer walks I’ve done. Wednesday’s 30 kilometers will be just like tomorrow’s. Thursday’s 18 kilometers will be just like every other 18 kilometer walk I’ve done, and Friday’s 16 kilometers will be just like every other 16 kilometer walk. And then boom, I’ll be done.

The last mile isn’t the hardest unless I think it is.

Kaşarlı pide for lunch

by Matt Krause on April 1, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Kaşarlı pide for lunch by mattkrause1969

Thin flatbread, mild white cheese similar to mozarella, and, just for additional greasy goodness, plenty of butter. Ayran and salad on the side.

If I had to live the rest of my life on kaşarlı pide, ızgara köfte, and kuru fasulye ve pilav, I’d be fine with that.

Why I treat this like a job

by Matt Krause on March 31, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Sometimes people find it interesting that I call this walk “my job.” I cut conversations short by saying, “Sorry, gotta get back to work.” I turn down invitations by saying, “Sorry, tomorrow’s a work day.” Sometimes people are amused. Sometimes people are confused. Sometimes people get slightly pissed off. Sometimes they just think they misheard me.

This is why I treat this walk like a job…

When I was in Seattle in 2010 and 2011, I used to go over to my friend George‘s house. George and his wife Napua have a son named Pryor. Before Pryor would go to bed, he and I would go out into the garage, where we could play rough, and play “light sabers,” like in the movie Star Wars.

We would play light sabers until I was exhausted. Not only did I get exhausted, I would lose my voice, because I made sound effects to accompany my light saber, and making sounds like a light saber will kill your voice pretty fast. By the way, Pryor never seemed to get tired — he has that bottomless pool of energy kids tend to have.

Anyway, one day in September of 2011 I was playing with Pryor, and I thought, I love this kid, and I need to do something big for him. So I thought about it for a while, and I decided to do this.

This project will be my gift to Pryor. Walk across a country for Pryor. Write a book for Pryor. My gift to Pryor will be a large project finished, not a large project unfinished, inşallah. And to ensure this project gets finished, I need a phrase I can repeat to myself each morning when my alarm goes off, or whenever I am tempted to sit a while longer and drink yet another cup of tea. And for me, a phrase that works well for that is “must get to work.” That is why I call this my job.

Today is for Dilan and Gülden Eraslan

by Matt Krause on March 28, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Today is for Dilan and Gülden Eraslan by mattkrause1969

I cross this country on plates of buttery rice and lemony carrot salad, and I rest my soul drinking tea in cozy living rooms surrounded by kind, loving people. Health to your hands Dilan and Gülden!

Ben bu ülkeyi tereyağlı pilav tabakları ve limonlu havuç salatalarıyla geçtim, ve ruhumu da sıcak, sevgi dolu insanlarla dolu odalarda çay içerek dinlendirdim. Elinize sağlık Dilan ve Gülden!

Thank you for the help with the translation, Veli hoca.

(a photo of Gülden, Dilan, and their father Mehmet bey)

A little windy out today

by Matt Krause on March 27, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

It was a little windy out today, so in the video you can hear me yelling over the wind. Today’s walk was at about 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) elevation. I didn’t see any of the lake today, since I was in the hills a couple kilometers inland. I won’t see the lake for another day or two.

Relocating the temporary housing

by Matt Krause on March 27, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

For weeks I’ve been passed by truck after truck carrying temporary housing units. I often hear the trucks coming before I see them, because the webbing they use to strap the housing units onto the truck beds makes a distinctive flapping sound in the wind.

All of the trucks were moving west, every single one of them. I didn’t see even one truck carrying a housing unit east. By the second or third day of this I started to wonder where they were taking all these housing units. I ran through a couple theories, and then remembered those Syrian refugee camps I had seen and heard about last month, when I was closer to the Syrian border. I’ve been meaning to ask someone if those housing units were now being used to house Syrian refugees, as I suspected, but I never got around to it.

Today I got a chance to find out. At the end of the walk I was standing by the side of the road, trying to catch a ride back to Tatvan for the night. One of those trucks came by and I stuck out my hand to signal for a ride. The driver pulled over and I climbed into the cab.

After the initial “get to know you” small talk, I asked him where he was headed. “Kilis,” he said. Kilis is a small province near the Syrian border. “Are these houses for the Syrians?” I asked. “Yes they are,” he said. “The government wants us to move these things from Van (where they were used after a major earthquake a year or two ago) to the Syrian border, to house the refugees.”

A long day

by Matt Krause on March 26, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

It is Wednesday. I wake up at 6am. I brush my teeth. I get dressed. I have a bite to eat. I walk out the door at 6:32am.

I walk 10 minutes to the bus stop. The next bus to the nearby town of Bitlis doesn’t leave until 7am, so I cross the street for a cup of tea. I find a seat with a direct line of sight to the bus stop.

After I drink my tea I get on the bus and begin waiting. A few minutes later the driver hops in, fires up the engine, and pulls away from the curb. A half hour later he drops me off at a bus stop in Bitlis. The next bus out of Bitlis doesn’t leave for more than an hour, so I cross the street to another teahouse.

The staff and the regulars at this teahouse recognize me. This is not the first time I’ve been to this particular teahouse, since this particular bus stop has become an important part of my five-day project to walk the road between the village of Bekirhan and the town of Tatvan.

At the teahouse I meet the muhtar, the village headman, for a village called Direktaşı. I have seen Direktaşı on the map, and I have been using it as a reference point for distances, elevations, etc. I tell the muhtar I recognize his village’s name. How do I know it, he asks me. He is curious because, as he tells me, Direktaşı is now an empty town. It has been empty for a long time. I wonder, but do not ask, why an empty village needs a muhtar.

The muhtar leaves. I strike up a conversation with a half dozen zabıta police. The zabıta are commercial cops, patrolling the neighborhood, keeping an eye on things, making sure nothing is obstructing the wheels of commerce.

After a few minutes of chat I step outside for some fresh air. Ertin, one of the zabıta policemen, follows me outside. He begins talking to me about Islam and Mohammed. “Yeah yeah, that’s great,” I think. I wish I knew a polite way to tell him I’ve heard this before, and I don’t want to hear it again now. I think of one: “Come walk with me. Oh, is there a bathroom around here?”

Ertin shows me to a bathroom. I take care of my business and, when I come out, begin heading straight for the bus, which arrived a few minutes ago and is filling up. I hope to hop on the bus quickly and avoid additional religiously-oriented conversation.

Ertin stays close to me on the short walk to the bus. I mention to him that I will be passing through this same place tomorrow. He invites me to breakfast. “Sounds good,” I tell him. I hop on the bus, happy to be about to leave Bitlis. The bus sits there for another hour.

The bus finally leaves at 10:15am. I ride it for about 45 minutes, to the day’s walk’s starting point. I will walk 30 kilometers (19 miles), the same distance I walked yesterday, and the same distance I will walk tomorrow. It takes me 6 hours to walk 30 kilometers. That means I’ll finish around 5pm, shortly before sunset. I don’t like finishing so late in the day.

I finish walking 15 minutes early, at 4:45, at another village’s crossroads. A man is standing at the crossroads, making sure people get on the right buses. I tell him I am heading back to Tatvan. He tells me the bus to Tatvan will be passing through at 5pm. Thank god, I think, I’ll be home soon. The 5pm bus doesn’t show up.

The bus-hailer man tells me he will find me when the next bus to Tatvan passes through town. He points me to a couple friends of his and suggests I sit with them and have tea while I wait. I take a seat. They ask me how much a kilo of steak costs in the US. It’s been a while since I bought steak, but I take what I think is a pretty good guess.

One of the men, who has never been out of the country, taps his temple and says to me, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, but I do.” He quotes a number that is about 10% of the one I gave. At first I feel a little put out that I have been told so directly that I don’t know the price of meat in my own country. But then I realize that anytime the second man has a question about the US, I can just defer and say, “Ask [the first man], he knows everything.” I am tired and am happy to defer pricing estimates to someone else.

The pricing conversation continues. How many hours does the average worker have to work to buy one kilo of chicken? How about lamb, how long does the average worker have to work to buy one kilo of lamb? To each question I now answer, “I don’t know, ask [the first man], he knows.”

A minibus pulls into town. The bus-hailer man calls out to me. This bus won’t get me back to Tatvan, but it will get me closer than I am now. I hop on and pay my fare. I ride the bus about twenty minutes.

The bus drops me off at a transfer point, where I find a bus to Tatvan. The driver of the Tatvan bus tells me his is a direct bus to Tatvan. “Thank god,” I think, “I’ll be home soon.” I get on the bus and pay my fare. The bus pulls around to the other side of the parking lot and stops for a 20-minute dinner break.

After the break I get back on the bus. I cram into one of the remaining spaces at the back of the bus. The other passengers start peppering me with questions. Where are you from? What is your name? Do you have children? What are you doing here? I know they don’t meet many Americans, and even fewer who are walking across their country, so I answer their questions as best I can, even though I am so exhausted I can barely remember my own name. I am grateful when they begin discussing me amongst themselves, rather than discussing me directly with me. I sit back and rest a bit, my rest interrupted only when they need to consult me on a point of information so they can resume their conversation.

The bus stops off at a gasoline station between Bitlis and Tatvan. About a half-dozen passengers, me included, are told to get off. “What now,” I wonder. A man, about 80 years old, grabs my arm and shows me to a private car. I don’t resist, because he seems to know where I should be going. All six of us, including the man who grabbed my arm, begin loading into the private car. It is an unusually small car, and I fold myself in as best I can. There is no head room for me, so I bow my head and stare at my knees.

The private car pulls into Tatvan about 8pm. I ask the driver to let me off at the Big Mosque. I am cranky when I get home, having arrived after dark. I prefer to be back at home before the sun sets, a habit I picked up on the first half of the walk, when life was much better if I made camp and was safely in my sleeping bag by the time the sun set. When I’m out after dark I can’t see the faces of the people I meet. Plus, it’s easy to get lost.

In the living room I check my emails. One is from my host in the next city of Van. He will be leaving town and can’t host me after all. I will need to find another place to stay. “I’m too tired to deal with this now,” I think. “I’ll deal with it later.”

Another email is from my mom. I haven’t talked to her in over a week, but she follows my blog regularly (Hi Mom!). She asks me if I have a girlfriend. I don’t have a girlfriend, but my mom is the third person to ask that question this week. For almost two years no one has bothered to ask if I have a girlfriend, and now three people in one week do. I email her back, asking her why she asked. Did I say something? Am I giving off some “I have a girlfriend” vibes?

My host Veli calls me to dinner. He and his flatmate Asım have made a dinner of seasoned potatoes, pasta, and yogurt. Two of their friends from the building join us for dinner. The five of us spread some newspaper on the floor, set the dishes on it, sit cross-legged around the food, and eat from common plates.

I wolf down the potatoes and finish off one of the bowls of yogurt. Veli offers me some of his potatoes. I politely turn them down. It is 9:30pm. I am exhausted. It occurs to me that walking six hours in one day, and then getting up the next day to walk six hours again, and then getting up the next day to walk six hours again, and to do so in a foreign country, is a fairly unusual activity.

I sit quietly, staring at nothing, while the others chat excitedly about something. Veli notices I am tired. He excuses me from dinner. I take my leave, brush my teeth, and am asleep by 10pm.

The next morning I will wake up and do it again. Thirty kilometers a day. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired. Whatever it takes, I tell myself. Finish the walk.

A minute’s walk along Lake Van

by Matt Krause on March 25, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

It occurred to me today that in the same way some people love to watch videos of trains (yes, Dad, I’m talking about you), there might be some people out there who like to watch videos of people walking. So here’s a minute of what it looks like to walk next to Turkey’s largest lake…

Video – 25 March, 2013

by Matt Krause on March 25, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

I say 600 feet, but I meant 6,000 feet…

Scoping out Tatvan-Van

by Matt Krause on March 24, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

It snowed in Tatvan last night, so today I rode a bus the 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Tatvan to Van, and then back to Tatvan, to inspect the road I’ll be walking this week.

The road’s elevation ranges from the lake level of 5500 feet (1700 meters) to 7200 feet (2200 meters). The snow on the shoulders is melting fast. The road between Tatvan and Van is clear and ready for me to walk. Knock on wood, inşallah, kırk bir kere maşallah.

And Tatvan makes 88%

by Matt Krause on March 22, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

I’ve walked all the way to Tatvan now. 88% of the walk is done. 1,848 kilometers (1,148 miles).

What’s left: one week to walk from Tatvan to Van, and then a week to walk from Van to the border (or at least, to within a few kilometers of the border — I’ll walk the final few kilometers a week after that, so some friends can join me for the last section).

Now for a hot shower and a nap. I’ve got tomorrow off.

Today is for Aydın Bırık

by Matt Krause on March 19, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Today is for Aydın Bırık by mattkrause1969

Aydın is a friend of mine from Istanbul Toastmasters.

I first met Aydın at Toastmasters in November. He asked me an excellent question related to the trip, and I have been thinking about it ever since.

Join the walk for the final day

by Matt Krause on March 19, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

[Up to date, as of 9 April, 2013]

This is the planning page for the walk’s final day. If you would like to take part on that final day, this is the page to keep checking. I’ll be posting updates as the day draws closer.

Date:

The walk’s final day is Saturday, 13 April, 2013.

The plan:

IMPORTANT: BRING IDENTIFICATION (passport, nüfüs cüzdanı, whatever you have); the Jandarma have multiple security checkpoints along the road.

IMPORTANT: MAKE SURE I HAVE YOUR CELL PHONE NUMBER. If there are any last-minute changes Friday evening or Saturday morning, or if our group gets split up on the road, I need a way to get in touch with you.

I already walked to 5 kilometers before the border. Therefore we will only have to walk for one or two hours on Saturday the 13th.

I will be staying in Van Friday night, the night before the final day. Van is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the border.

Saturday morning we’ll have breakfast and then leave Van by bus around 8:30am or 9:00am. We will ride the bus until the day’s starting point (a bridge over a river 5 km from the border).

Finding a bus between Van and Özalp (a town 40 km from the border) is easy. However, finding rides between Özalp and the border, especially for 8 people, is pretty unpredictable. So we’ve already called the local minibüs kooperatıf (thank you, Yonca), and they are ready to help transport us to and from the border.

On Saturday, when we’re in sight of the border I’d like to break a bottle of champagne on the road. We will also have a few photos that need to be taken during the day. So it’ll be kind of a festive atmosphere.

After we reach the border, we’ll just ride back to Van and celebrate by stopping somewhere in Van for a beer.

Who is planning on coming:

This is an open invitation to whoever wants to come. You don’t have to notify me in advance. You don’t even have to walk the final 5 km if you don’t want to. You could just meet us at the border.

So far, though, it looks like there will be 5-8 of us: two of my friends from Istanbul, two from Ankara, one from Tarsus, me, and a couple other people from the Van area.

Road conditions and weather:

We’ll walk whatever the weather conditions are, since A. I’ve been on the road for 7 months, and I want to get this walk over with, and B. there are people coming from a long ways away.

I’ve been walking in the Van area for two weeks, and it’s been warm enough so that I’ve never had to wear a jacket while walking. I wear wool underwear (top and bottom), thin polyester sports pants, a thin cotton undershirt, and a thin polyester long-sleeve shirt. I also wear a hat and sunglasses, and I put on sunblock, because the sun is bright at this altitude.

The roads are nice and clear. There is snow on the mountain peaks, but not at the elevation we’ll be walking at. Hopefully we’ll have a nice sunny day.

Contact:

It’ll probably be a pretty small group of people who join me for the final day, so direct contact will be more useful than updates to this webpage. To contact me directly, email me at mattkrause@mattkrause.com or call me at +90-535-680-9680.

Lodging information:

I like the Van-Sisli Ogretmen Evi. I stayed there for a few nights while I was walking the last few days between Van and the border. I paid 40 TL per night (40 TL per person for a two-bed room, but they didn’t put anyone else in the room, so I had the whole room to myself). Breakfast is included. It is a nice, new, clean place — it was built last year, after the earthquake destroyed the school building that was there before it. Reservations are not necessary.

The Van-Sisli Ogretmen Evi is centrally located, in a part of the center of town called Maraş. There is a city bus that passes right in front of the Ogretmen Evi and goes between Maraş and Kampüs, passing right in front of the otogar, where we’ll probably be meeting Saturday morning.

FYI, there are two Ogretmen Evi’s in Van — the Sisli Ogretmen Evi, and the older Iskele Ogretmen Evi.

Istanbul flight information and local lodging (thanks Alper!):

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Matt Krause
Date: Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 3:47 PM
Subject: Re: [istanbultoastmasters] Joining Matt on April 13-14
To: blahblahblah@blahblahblah.com

Hi all,

OR you can cut expenses big time with CouchSurfing.org. I highly recommend that site. Stay in someone’s home. It’s more homey than a hotel, and you make some great friends. I don’t think I’ve stayed at a hotel in three months. If you aren’t familiar with CouchSurfing.org, let me know, I’ll help you get set up and find a place.

Matt

On Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 2:23 PM, Alper wrote:

Dear friends,

As I mentioned in our meeting last week, one of our founding members, Matt, has been on a journey on foot from the west end to the east end of Turkey.

On April 13th, he will be finishing this voyage on the Iranian border in Van, and has invited us to join him for the last 5 KM of the walk and then to celebrate the finish. I will be going there with a few friends who have confirmed.

We have two options of arriving late Friday evening or early Saturday morning. We can then return on Sunday evening. Matt told me that we would have to gather around 9:30am Saturday, so we can either take a very early morning flight that day or arrive one day before.

There are planes both from Ataturk and Sabiha Gokçen airports with the following times:

THY
4/13 Leave Atatürk 06:45am – Arrive in Van 08:50am (direct)
4/14 Leave Van 15:40 – Arrive in Atatürk 19:05 (Stopover in Ankara)
This ticket is currently 490 TL

PEGASUS
4/12 Leave Sabiha Gökçen 10:00am – Arrive in Van 12:05pm (direct)
4/14 Leave Van 12:35pm – Arrive in SG 14:45 (direct)
This ticket is currently 270 TL

ACCOMMODATION
Matt mentioned an Öğretmenevi in Van. There are also other alternatives on booking.com, and a decent hotel seems to cost 59TL per person per night including breakfast (double occupancy) http://www.hotelmirva.com/

So here are the rough estimated totals excluding activities:
Arrive Friday by Pegasus, stay 2 nights : 390 TL (double occupancy)
Arrive Saturday by THY, stay 1 night: 550 TL (double occupancy)

If you have any questions, Matt will try his best to answer them via this mail group. Hope to see you all, and have a great week!

Alper

Tatvan’s Hüseyin Çelik Anadolu Lisesi

by Matt Krause on March 18, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Tatvan's Hüseyin Çelik Anadolu Lisesi by mattkrause1969

My host in Tatvan is Veli Deniz, appearing in this photo to my left. I visited a handful of classes today, but with this one I got to spend three class periods, since it is an intensive language class that stays in the same room for most of the day.

The exercise Veli prepared ahead of time was for the students to ask questions of me, me to answer, and then the students, later, to repeat my answers in their own words.

That exercise lasted only 1-1/2 class periods, though, and we spent the rest of the time with the students just asking me unscripted questions of their own. I was amazed at how wise and thoughtful their questions were, requiring me to dig deep and find creative ways to discuss complex philosophical issues clearly with a small vocabulary.

I absolutely love it when someone asks me to do that, and then is patient enough to listen to my answer. Everything else in the world falls away, and the only things that exist are me and the people in front of me.

On the bus to Tatvan

by Matt Krause on March 17, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Yesterday on the bus to Tatvan there was a young man sitting next to me. I asked him what he was doing. He told me he was a soldier stationed in Mardin. I asked him what Mardin was like. He said the scenery was nice, but the people are bad.

“Did he just say what I think he did?” I thought to myself. “You’ve got to be a major moron to make a statement like that on a bus like this.” I shut up, knowing full well that the people around us were about to come out swinging…

Sure enough, within moments the other passengers began ripping him a new one. One man in particular, an older man I had chatted with at a rest stop 15 minutes earlier, went on for a full ten minutes, saying Erdoğan this, Erdoğan that, Turkish soldiers this, Turkish soldiers that, and I kept hearing him repeat one phrase over and over: “We are not a question, we are a people.” The passengers around him chanted like a choir in a church, probably saying the Kurdish equivalent of, “Amen, brother, you tell him!”

The young soldier just slouched down into his seat and tucked his chin into his jacket, the expression on his face saying, “Oh why did I have to open my big fat mouth?”

“Sorry, boy,” I thought, “but someone’s gotta teach you some manners.”

Rain, hail, headwinds, and then sun (video)

by Matt Krause on March 17, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Today I walked 26 kilometers (16 miles) in reverse, from Tatvan to Bitlis. I came up here to Tatvan-Bitlis yesterday. I have another 4 days of walking at a lower elevation to “catch up” to myself, but I came up here because I wanted to scout out the roads at the higher elevation. I want these roads to be nice and clear one and two weeks from now, so I can finish up the walk without walking through too much snow.

The weather was a little rainy this morning. Rain melts snow really fast though, so when there’s snow rain is fine with me. I get a little bit wet, but the roads get clear.

I’m not really fond of hail however, and for the first couple hours of the walk today a stiff headwind was blowing hail into my face. Hail stings.

After a couple hours the sun came out, and I spent the second half of the walk enjoying the scenery and walking along the Bitlis River, swollen with the recent snowmelt and the morning’s rain.

Video – Sıra Gecesi (Tatvan, 16 March, 2013)

by Matt Krause on March 17, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Gotta let go of that nut

by Matt Krause on March 14, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

There was a squirrel. He was out hunting for nuts. He saw a nice big one down in the well of a tree. He grabbed the nut. He tried to pull it out, but the nut was too big. It, plus his hand, wouldn’t come out together. So he had to make a choice — let go of the nut, or hold onto it and starve.

Today I am leaving Diyarbakır. I have been here for over a week — three days to walk towards the city, one day to visit a school, two days to rest, and then three days to walk away from it.

I will be moving on to Silvan, and then Tatvan. People are waiting for me in those places. I know from experience now that some of them will become great friends, but in order to meet them, I have to say goodbye, at least for now, to my old friends.

It is like breaking up with people every day, day after day, and I don’t like it a whole lot. In fact, it is the single most emotionally exhausting aspect of this trip.

But the soon-to-be-new-friends are waiting for me, and so I’ve got to say goodbye, at least for now, to the old ones. Thank you Diyarbakır, it’s been real.

A new kind of small talk

by Matt Krause on March 13, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

One of my favorite ways to take a break during the day is to stop at villages I pass through and have a cup of çay.

Here in southeast Turkey the small talk during those breaks is often some variation of “tell us about federalism.”

So on many days now “break time” means sitting around drinking tea and, in my Tarzan Turkish, fielding questions like, “In America, are the state governors appointed by the President, or are they elected by the people?”

Today is for Alper Rozanes

by Matt Krause on March 13, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Today is for Alper Rozanes by mattkrause1969

Alper is a friend of mine from Istanbul Toastmasters.

At dinner last month he asked me what I could offer the world that few others could. When I told him, he raised an eyebrow and said, "Do you know how valuable that skill is?" For me it was one of those "open your eyes and see what’s right in front of you" moments.

Unfortunately, my eyes closed back up shortly after the conversation — closed seems to be their default position these days. But I know there’s something out there I should be seeing. Thanks, Alper!

Today’s walk was 26 kilometers (16 miles) from Bağdere to Silvan. In Silvan I snacked on peynirli kol böreği and çay. While eating I learned about the history of the area and found out the Bible is broken. Then I hopped a bus back to Diyarbakır for my final night in that city.

Mountains in sight

by Matt Krause on March 12, 2013

This was a temporary blog, specifically for the walk across Turkey. Visit Matt's permanent website, www.mattkrause.com.

Today I started to notice the mountains closing in on me. In about a week I’ll start the climb up onto a higher plateau, the plateau I’ll finish the walk on.

map-screenshot

elevation-profile3