Trip to Türkiye

Trip to Türkiye – From the border to Cappadocia, a travel diary

Border crossing in Turkey by bus

It is a cold and harsh wind that welcomes my first steps on Turkish soil, a wind that had forcefully guided the clouds to hide the only familiar reference to which my courage would like to appeal in this moment, the reassuring moon.

The border station seems like a place outside of space and time: the dim lights coming from outside are overwhelmed by the spotlights focused on the three slender channels used for controls, and the prominent fences on the sides of the complex do nothing else than to emphasize the feeling of estrangement from the rest of the world. Needless to say, the night, in this situation, certainly doesn’t work in my favor.

That’s enough to shake my certainties.

I find myself in the middle of a long queue generated by the slowness (because I doubt it’s meticulousness) of the customs inspectors, who with their rumpled uniforms and the laces of their poorly tied boots, seem only a lopsided imitation of the formal and authoritarian image that you would expect to find.

The smile that my Italian origins arouse on the face of the guard who checks my documents is not perceived by my mind as a small sign of welcome, but rather of mockery, a mocking reminder of how far away my reality now is, but at every so the stamp of approval doesn’t take long to arrive, and I am therefore allowed to head to the small market just a few dozen meters away.

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The structure inside is aseptic and bright, reigned by a muffled silence sometimes interrupted by a few coughs and a few beats of cash.

Nobody talks.

Why should they anyway? The common goal is to escape from this bureaucratic purgatory as soon as possible in order to be reunited with one’s domestic loved ones or at least with one’s daily habits.

And what about me?

There is, at least at the moment, no port to which I can dock, no place that has the slightest familiar feeling, and I therefore wander alone on my makeshift raft in this boundless sea, increased moment by moment by my current inadequacy for this totally new world in my eyes, a world in which my sofa is abruptly transformed into a bus seat and the window of the latter suddenly becomes my television, a world in which the passions that until then had motivated my steps are eclipsed by a growing sense of bewilderment, a world in which poetry is lost in favor of a gray and impassive reality.

I leave the shop empty-handed, also because I admit in all sincerity that I hadn’t paid the slightest attention to the goods on display, and I decide to get back on the bus which seems to have finished the checks.

I therefore find my place, my music, and even more than I could have hoped for: a couple of hours of sleep.

Trip to Türkiye


For at least ten minutes I have been struggling to keep my eyelids raised, and it will be much more difficult to get up, since, leaving aside the normal morning drowsiness, my legs not only still have to work off some overdue efforts, but they seem to have perfectly understood what awaits them.

This is not the day for rest.

Istanbul adopted me gradually and gently opening my eyes to a distant reality far beyond what geography shows, and also lulling me with friendships so brief, but of such an intensity that I didn’t think possible.

Ankara raised me making me take my first steps in a thick forest of visas and documents that is as intricate as it is, at times, irrational.

Now, here in Cappadocia, it’s time to find the true essence of this journey.

I lace up my boots while staring at nothing, I rinse my face without even looking in the mirror, I check my backpack without actually doing it: My mind is elsewhere, well outside the four walls of this cramped apartment.

The small town of Urgup which with its brick buildings alternating with caves represents one of the very rare Turkish examples of the union between history and present, attentive to my time in a pleasant and attractive way, but my intentions are much more practical, and in order to collect some supplies I head towards a small grocery store, where a man with a sunken but good-natured face offers me a cup of tea which I gladly accept.

My pace is fast, and in a matter of minutes I find myself just outside the town, on a bumpy road on which scooters and cars whiz by at an almost insane speed, preventing pedestrian transit.

It matters little, today my route is not made of asphalt, but rather of grass and earth, of little rivers and bare rock.

At the exact moment in which my already battered boot marks the soft grayish soil, at the thought that I and only I will decide the direction of the next step my mind lightens to the point of almost making me swing, and everything shines with a new light.

The smooth rock masses present themselves to my eyes like the waves of a sheet of an unmade bed, the crisp wind that stiffens the hair on my arms, in addition to moaning softly, brings with it a dust whose earthy flavor creeps in in my mouth, the small stones on the ground make the touch of my foot discontinuous: a sensation close to happiness arises in my chest, but it is not the kind on which I can constantly rely, it is rather a promise of well-being deeper, a taste of a raw and primitive joy.

Trip to Türkiye

A homeless man, lying on a sofa made of rags in one of the increasingly numerous rocky recesses, in response to my greeting invites me to come closer to him and offers me the most precious thing he has to offer: bread. A few failed attempts at communication, huge smiles and I’m back on my way west, with my soul much fuller than my body.

The hours slip through my fingers, and the gentle hills have now given way to bare pinnacles whose diameters vary from the trunk of an adult tree to several metres, which at dusk compete for the sun, drawing advancing shadows on the ground at walking pace: the time has come to find accommodation for the night, and the choice falls on a cave slightly higher than the others present. The improvised bivouac, with the soft sandy floor shaped to the curves of my body and an optimal temperature guaranteed by the thick walls, proves comfortable to the point of making me miss the spectacle of dawn, and this will perhaps be the only regret I will have regarding this place.

The morning march proceeds at a good pace, interrupted only by a strange gestural conversation with some local shepherds visibly intrigued by my presence in their pastures, until I finally reach the destination, the entrance to the Hilara valley, a huge unbuttoning of the arid surrounding landscape on a green and lush reality.

As expected, the intimacy and confidentiality that I have enjoyed until now are undermined by the buzz of the dozens of tourists present, some of whom cast fleeting and sharp glances at my dusty clothes, silently judging.

Sorry gentlemen, today I am the richest here.

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