Drove 8hrs along the beautiful Black Sea coast and little Turkish towns to Georgia border and waited 5hrs at the border. Summer apparently is tourist season and borders crossings are slow. Met a bunch of people though.
But first you need to hear about our brush with the law enforcement officers. In Turkey, just like in India, police put traffic cones to slow down traffic on roads so they can pull out vehicles they find suspicious. We got flagged. We were driving past the checkpost when we heard a loud yell and stopped ahead of the cones to investigate. I saw the cops waving us to reverse into their area and accordingly backed into their spot. They took one look inside the car and burst out laughing. Apparently they saw Anitha in the passenger seat, head bent over her phone, typing away and assumed the driver was texting while driving! The cars here are left-hand drive and ours is a right-hand drive, and they didn’t notice the steering wheel until we pulled into their spot. They were good sports, posed for a picture with us and even stopped traffic to help us ease back onto the highway 😂
Then we waited a good 5hrs at the turkey – Georgia border where we made friends with 3 other mongol Rally teams from Holland, France and Australia and a bunch of other travelers and a meat calzone vendor with a lot of character.
One of the people we met was the father of a Olympic boxer from Azerbaijan – we communicated with him primarily through miming! Two were tour bus operators ferrying people across the border – they used the “phone a friend” tactic to call one of their friends who knew English to translate for us via speaker phone. They wanted to know what we thought of Turkey.
The meat vendor is the guy with the mohawk. He sounded like an excellent sales person even though we had no idea what he was saying. Exuding high energy and optimism, he listed off different cities in France. We assumed he had traveled there.
Overall, Turkey has been amazing with lovely people, great food, and beautiful coast.
At the Georgia border, the customs guy was trying to understand why 2 people from US and India met in London to drive all the way to Mongolia. Finally he gave up and asked if we had any narcotics. We showed him our stash of carrots and cucumbers and he gave us an incredulous look before waving us away. With the stickers and stuff in the car and our clothes, he probably had us weighed, measured, and pegged as hippies. The carrots was a curve ball.
After an already exhausting day, we drove an hour past Batumi’s traffic (at 10:30pm there were traffic jams! It’s a casino town) in very Indian driving conditions with everyone cutting in randomly, and spent another good hour looking for a “hotel” we had booked. The woman wasn’t helpful repeating the address and not giving directions, so we gave the phone to a taxi driver, had her direct him while we followed his taxi in our car. Turned out to be a house in a gully which we never would’ve found! Anyways, way past midnight now. Off to sleep.
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