One Wild Journey, One Crazy Couple, One Life to Live
We updated the webpage blog: http://www.gstringjourney.com/the-trip/ with a couple of posts from Turkey. We also added quite a few photos to the map page (just click on the bug pins). However, I have since had some technical difficulties uploading photos. I hope this site works…
We arrived to Samsun and found the ‘boat statue’ where we had been instructed to park and called the number that was given to us by Enis, the famous stretch bug designer. The man who answered the phone spoke not a word of English, but was obviously in the loop about our arrival.
Soon after, a 1954 VW Bug (or Voswos as they are lovingly called in Turkey) roared up and out jumped a Turkish version of the aged Hippy Trail traveler and his friend, the mechanic. We did our best to follow them back to the garage as they sped in and out of traffic and around roundabouts with no clear right of way.
We never would have found their workshop if they’d lost us along the way. Tucked away in a street behind an alleyway off a turnoff behind a gas station sits a shop that is piled to the ceiling with part after part after part. Wherever there is not a part, there is a VW poster, photo, badge, emblem, or model. I fell in love with the place immediately. It turns out that the group hanging around the garage are all proud Samsun Voswos Club members. They told us that over 1000 VWs showed up at their last rally. That sure beats the 6 that showed up to the Kabul rally that we organized before leaving Afghanistan!
Before anyone would look at the car, we were fed. I must admit I am not a huge fan of Turkish food, but the tiny dolmas of rice wrapped in grape leaves and the green beans with tomato sauce served to us in the midst of this organized chaos of mechanical bits were amazing. Before the food disappeared completely, a crane driver from the neighbourhood appeared as our personal translator. His wife is British but apparently he had not spoken English much in the last 30 years. He could have fooled me – his English was better than any we had heard since arriving in Turkey. Once we got the message across that the brakes were soft, the handbrake and speedometer cables were broken, the transmission was leaking, and the wheels were no longer aligned, they got to work. Despite their best efforts, they weren’t able to get all of the work done before nightfall and we needed a place to pitch the tent.
We followed the ‘54 Bug back to the park in the middle of the city where we were told we could sleep. We looked around dubiously at the museum, cafes, boardwalk, tennis court, and picnic areas. In Canada they would never allow anyone to pitch a tent in such a park, but it seems Turkish authorities are not quite so rigid. We parked the car, pitched the tent and proceeded to cook our dinner. recovered_6523008Just as we put the veggies on, a VW Combie van pulled up behind Humpty. A man got out and pulled out a table and four stools, a bag of sodas, and a box of baked goods. Apparently the VW club had been alerted as to our presence and had been tasked with taking care of our wellbeing; if we were not comfortable in the tent, we could sleep in the van. The ’54 Bug returned with blanket, homemade food, a stove, and teapot. What more could we have asked for, other than perhaps a translator!
And so our wish was granted. A third vehicle appeared with two more club members, a wife, and a baby. One of the club members owned 7 VWs (one more than were able to gather for the Afghan Rally), and the other spoke English. And so the night began. Before we knew it, it was well past midnight. It was even further past midnight before we crawled into our tent in the middle of the park in the middle to Samsun city. Home of the great Samsun VW Club.
In the morning, we completed the remainder of the work, including a new handbrake cable, another new wheel seal, shock check, and an alignment. We also got a tour of the most fabulous Combie van I have ever seen. The mechanic took two years to restore it and has driven it to shows all over Turkey. I think one of those is next on the bucket list.
Before we hit the road, we were made official members of the Samsun VW Club. We got our badges and our stickers. We proudly took a Polaroid of us and the car and were able to find one small display space for it on the wall of bedlam.
We thought we would take advantage of the fact that the brakes were functioning by taking the allegedly spectacularly winding black sea coastal road to Amsara on our way to Istanbul. However, about an hour outside of Samsun, we pulled over to check the brakes that seemed to be going soft again. Rolling to a stop, we pulled on the handbrake to hear the now familiar snap of the cable. Back to square one!