It was lunchtime when I arrived in Nazilli, (population about 120,000). I walked up to the first restaurant I saw and ordered a lunch of kasarli kofte. Once again, the cook recognized me — he had seen me in the local papers or on the local TV, he couldn’t remember where.
After lunch, I pushed back from the table, congratulating myself again on finishing five days of walking. I decided that instead of stressing out over finding a place to stay for the night, I would reward myself by staying at the hotel next door.
The lobby of the hotel was bright, the rooms clean. The water was hot, breakfast was included. All this for $28 per night. Pure luxury by the standards of someone who was now used to sleeping in the dirt. I eagerly took a room.
My first act of celebration was to take a shower. After my shower, I lay down on the bed and enjoyed the clean white linens before falling asleep for a 30-minute nap that easily stretched into the rest of the day. I woke up at dusk, only to fall back asleep and sleep soundly through the night.
In the morning I lazily rolled out of bed at 10 a.m. and shuffled down the stairs to the veranda for breakfast. The waiter showed me to my table on the lawn just off the veranda in the shade of a few large palms.
I was not starving by any stretch of the imagination. I’d been eating plenty this week, but for breakfast I’d always wolfed down a quick gozleme and cay or simit and cay. This morning, however, I plugged my iPhone in to charge on a wall near the kitchen and then sat waiting for breakfast nursing a steaming hot cay placed before me on a round glass top placed over a white tablecloth. I heard water gushing from a fountain and turning to look watched it splash out onto the pavement, then disappear, collected in a drain, filtered, and then returned to the fountain to gush again. I enjoyed the sound of the running water.
The waiter soon appeared with a platter filled with the traditional Turkish breakfast–bread, an array of jams and preserves, seasoned potatoes, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, green olives, black olives, and three kinds of cheese.
I greedily gobbled down every consumable morsel and then asked for more. When I finished I sat for an hour drinking unlimited refills of tea and listening to the water splashing from the fountain.
After breakfast, I stepped off the patio and strolled out to the road to take in the scenery. The hills, palm trees, and farms nestled into the slopes reminded me of Santa Barbara and California’s Central Coast. I pulled out my phone to check the Kickstarter campaign. It had reached 72% of its goal, with three weeks to go.
In here, add the scene where you check your expenses and your mileage, but since the guilt hasn’t started yet, you can be neutral about it. Then in subsequent hotel scenes, you can do the same scene, but there will be more angst behind it.
In the past few days, I had slept outside in a mosque garden, on the floor of an imam’s apartment, on the floor of an empty storage room, and on the couch in the office of a municipal vehicle maintenance yard. I had learned some basic road skills, like:
• Be friendly.
• Get an early start.
• Drink a lot of water.
• Wear sunscreen.
• Wash a shirt at every stop. Keep a relatively clean set of clothes handy for after each day’s walk.
• Mosques are like truck stops with religion — great places to rest up and wash.
• Pass up no opportunity to charge phone and camera batteries.
• Assume nothing; you know less than you think you do.
• Keep it in your pants.
I felt good, at ease with myself and with the world in general. I made a mental note that the next thing I needed to learn was how to shower more regularly.
By then it was shortly after noon, so I decided to head back to my room for a nap. On my way back to my room I realized that if I left the hotel that afternoon, I would need to find a place to stay for the night, so I decided to stay a second night too.