Changing kids' lives from the seat of a bike

The Founders of TWV

Italy, Greece & Turkey

February 1999, Italy

It was cold when we left our mountain home away from home. To keep warm we wore every piece of clothing we had - long underwear to rain suit. Our tanned skin from sun-filled days in South Africa quickly faded. We wondered if our travel plans in Italy might have to change. Biking and camping in 35F/2C, rain and snow challenged our spirit of adventure. Pushing our bikes up snowy mountain passes, huddling close to a camp fire at night for warmth - these were the scenes of our travels the latter part of February.

 

March 1999, Italy

Because there was plenty of open space in the countryside of central Italy, free camping was easy. If we could not find anyone to ask for permission, we would generally tuck ourselves in near an old, abandoned farmstead. It was hard to tell how long the stone buildings had sat empty. Our small campfire at night would glow on the stone ruins and seemed to bring some life back into the deserted homestead. The comfort we have developed of the unknown helped us feel secure at night in places like these.

 

March 1999, Greece

Day to day we are on the move. By now many parts of our travel are very routine. Everything has a place on the bikes or in the tent at night. I carry certain things and Tanya carries others. The days provide many free hours for us to think and learn. In the two weeks it took us to bike to Athens we learned the Greek alphabet, and at night we learned the names of the constellations using a star chart. We have analyzed the world's problems and created solutions. The crisis in Kosovo has gained international attention and the ongoing tension between Greece and Turkey is escalating. Even though we were in the geographical region of these issues, it seemed as though we and the people we met were far removed from the political conflicts.

 

April 1999, Turkey

Traveling in Turkey started to get really unpredictable - roads were not well marked, shopping in town markets was new to us, and finding places to camp was difficult. One night we asked and got permission to camp near a small ethnic Albanian farming village. As Tanya was setting up the tent and I cooked our dinner we were visited by several sheep and goat herders. I could communicate with some of them in our shared second language of French, but for the most part it was non-verbal communication. They offered us a cigarette (a typical Turkish greeting) and then watched us curiously to see what we were up to. That evening after Tanya and I had gone to sleep I heard a voice outside the tent - in English! That surprised me a bit. "We want to talk to you," a man said. I just wanted to sleep, so I asked if he would mind waiting till the morning. The voice said, "I have the Mayor and the Security Chief here and we need to talk to you". That sounded more serious so I got out to talk to them. We were told that for security reasons, both the town's people, and ours, we could not camp where we were. With our mag-lights we packed our gear and then followed the Security Chief escort down the rutted dirt road we climbed to find our .home. for the night. They took us to the City Hall, where we spent the rest of the night. It was a long, uncomfortable night and didn't give me the .safe. feeling the Chief of Security had mentioned. In the morning we had breakfast with the Mayor, exchanged addresses, took some pictures and then left town. This experience set our expectations for camping in Turkey - we aimed for staying indoors at economical guesthouses for the remainder of our travel through this country.

St. Peter's Basilica, Italy
Uchisar, Turkey
Yenipazar, Turkey
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