On the morning of my seventh day on the road, I walked out of Nazilli and stopped at a tea garden near the village of Hamzali to top off my water supply. The tea garden was tended by a hyperactive 15-year old named Halil who couldn’t stop talking about how fast his Peugeot scooter was and how rich he’d be after fixing it up and selling it. His parting words to me as I left, yelled at the top of his lungs even though I was within an arm’s length, was, “Don’t forget me!”
“Okay Halil, I won’t.” I might even mention you in the book.
Later, I pulled into a Shell gasoline station for water and ended up resting in a grassy patch in the shade having some tea and a chat with the station manager.
He mentioned that two guys from Poland had come through the day before and had camped under the tree where I was resting now. They had just left that same morning.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Did he just say the Polish guys were here the whole night and had slept in this very spot? Man, they’ve got some mad hobo skills. I need skills like that, I thought. I’d lost track of my Polish friends Darek and Piotr since we’d parted at Nasuh’s outside Germencik a few days ago.
I leaned forward as he talked, frustrated that my Turkish was so rusty and that even though I listened intently I might not be getting the whole story. I admired them so much I didn’t want to miss anything that was said about them.
Derek and Piotr were taking on a kind of a ghostly quality for me and I began to call them my doppelgangers. In the few days being with them I’d quickly learned some very basic hobo skills like how to find a place to stay at night and how to wash out your t-shirt. I admired their hobo skills greatly, and my admiration for them forced me to raise the level of my own hobo skills.
When I heard that they had camped out at the gasoline station and had slept where I was now sitting, I was even more impressed. So far I had camped in a mosque garden, I had stayed on the floor of an imam’s apartment, and I had slept in a city maintenance yard.
Also, I had seen a lot of gasoline stations along the way. How did one get permission to stay at a gasoline station? Boy if I could only figure out how to break that code! Was there a secret handshake or something? That would be a great skill to have.
When I’d had enough of the conversation I said, “Thank you very much for the tea.” I shook hands with the gasoline station attendants. Then, as an afterthought, I asked the manager if I could lie on the grass and take a short rest before I continued on. “Of course you can,” he said. So I lay down and took a nap on the grass where Derek and Piotr had slept, hoping some of their skill would rub off on me. And then I continued walking to Horsunlu, my next village.