Tea and nuts for everyone, joining a Sangha, military police, dinosaurs and music (November 2022)

Since I began traveling along the Mediterranean coast in Turkey, I’ve noticed that much of the coast is densely populated with cities, roads, and hotels. It has not been as easy to find secluded natural spots, as it is, for example, in Greece.

The satellite photos on Google Maps and Park4Night led me to believe that the Marmaris peninsula would be a beautiful spot to camp, and it did not disappoint. Upon arriving, I stumbled upon a place I dubbed “dinosaur land” due to the dense, prehistoric-looking forest. The area offered a great combination of dirt roads and hiking trails, as well as an abundance of wild thyme to pick. It was an amazing place.

Rosinante and I were the only campers there, but I had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people. Being inspired by the Turkish hospitality, I began offering tea to anyone who passed by. Most people seemed to enjoy it and when they accepted the tea, I also offered them nuts and dried fruits. It was a simple yet beautiful way to connect with others. I had a lot of great and interesting conversations. With two Turkish guys I talked a lot about Turkey and music. One of them even taught me a finger roll technique and a new, easy oriental beat to play on my cajon.

There were many beautiful encounters in that “dinosaur land”, but one stood out as particularly special. One day, an older man came to the place where I was camping. He stopped his car, got out and sat down on a large stone a few meters away from Rosinante and me. I greeted him and he smiled back. I had learned that some older people don’t like or understand how to use Google Translate, so I simply made some tea and offered it to him along with some nuts and dried fruits. He smiled, touched his chest with one hand, and seemed to enjoy his tea. I don’t know if he was unable to speak, but he didn’t say a single word. He communicated through gestures, and I did the same. I sat down at a respectful distance, and we shared some quiet but equally beautiful moments together.

Months ago, while I was in Greece, I began listening to episodes of The Zen Studies Podcast. I recall that I had felt a pull towards Zen a couple of times in my life before, but I never delved deeper into it. However, while in Greece, that changed and I became increasingly interested in Zen practices such as meditation and study. I had been considering joining a Sangha (a group of Zen practitioners) for some time, and I began attending the meetings of Bright Way Zen. The meetings were beautiful, very honest, and authentic, so I continued to attend the Sunday meetings, which included meditation, a socializing round, and a Dharma talk, during which the Zen teacher would discuss a topic which would then be discussed in the group. Although I felt like my identification with Zen increased in a way, I enjoyed these inspiring meetings.

After some days in the “dinosaur land”, the military police came by and informed me that it was not allowed to camp in that spot in the forest. They were very friendly but declined my offer of tea and I did not argue with them. I had been living in my car for more than three years already, and this was the second time I was moved by the authorities.

I moved on towards the end of the peninsula and found some truly beautiful spots to stay, with wonderful hikes and interesting ancient sites to enjoy. My music production became increasingly intense, and I experienced a number of breakthroughs in my learning. Sometimes I spent twelve hours a day making music. First I kept loving it, but then it started to change.

Uludag mountain, “The Shining”, thinking about Istanbul and a funny encounter with the Turkish bureaucracy (November 2022)

From Istanbul, I went south to the region of Uludag mountain. I had loved Uludag lemonade for some time in my life, but that was not the reason for me to go there. Although, if there had been a waterfall of that stuff, I think I would have given it a try.

After visiting Istanbul, I felt like taking some time to unwind in nature and go hiking. When I reached the highest point that I was allowed to go with Rosinante, it felt pretty strange because that area was mainly characterized by large hotels. These hotels were closed for the winter season and when I was there, there were hardly any other people around. But I found a nice place to stay, and the next morning, I drove Rosinante to one of the hotels to ask if I could park her there while I went hiking. I met a nice guy and we talked about living in the hotel, the differences between the summer and winter seasons, and so on. During the conversation, I couldn’t help but be reminded several times of Stephen King’s novel “The Shining.” Not that the guy seemed to be a big fan of smashing doors and people’s heads with an axe. It was just the scenery and his description of the boredom and loneliness he felt, especially during the summer when there were hardly any people around, that made me think of “The Shining.” I guessed.

I hiked up the Uludag mountain and the feeling of just going up and up was amazing and liberating. The layer of clouds separating heaven from earth looked like a fluffy but dense bed. Seeing that dense layer of clouds below and the bright sun above me reminded me of the saying “no matter what, there is always light, but sometimes you just can’t see it.” I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to be under that cloud layer at that moment.

I reflected on what had been going on with me in Istanbul, and it was very interesting. By the end of my time in Istanbul, I had been feeling disoriented, confused, and kind of frustrated. I talked to a very good friend and she said that for her, cities are always about connecting to other people. And that made me think. At some point in Istanbul, I had felt like I didn’t belong there. Not in the city and not to the people there. I had talked with a lot of people, but I hadn’t really connected with them in a deep way. I had felt like a foreign body in an organism, like I wasn’t a part of the rest. I had let that make me feel uncertain about a lot of things and that had led me to think a lot. Being on that mountain helped me understand that I was disappointed about not connecting in a deep way to others during my time in Istanbul. Somehow my expectations had not been met and that had made me feel bad. I seemed to be unable to let go of these expectations and accepting that I could not let go as well. As I’m writing this, I feel different about all of that, but at that time, understanding this through thinking made me feel calm and positive. I felt like I understood myself again and that everything was perfectly fine.

When I got back to Rosinante, I felt hungry and tired, and I just wanted to find a place to stay for the night, eat, and relax. When I found a really cool spot, a car of the mountain rangers approached. I went to the two rangers and we talked via Google Translate about the beauty of the mountains and the wild animals. Then they said that I was not allowed to stay overnight in the national park. For me, that felt like it couldn’t be right because there were official camp sites. I asked if I could stay at that specific spot where we were standing at that moment, which was located in one of the official camps. They said I needed permission to do that. I asked if they could give me the permission, they made a phone call and told me that only managers could give me the required permission. So I asked where I could find a manager, and they said that both of them were managers. I felt a little confused about how this interaction went along and I felt my tiredness, but it was funny as well, and I was curious about where this may lead. I asked if they would give me the permission, and they made another phone call. After that, they said I would have to pay for staying overnight, and I told them I would be happy doing that. They asked me to pay via bank transfer. In Germany, a bank transfer takes hours or days to complete, so I was a bit confused and told them that I only had German bank accounts, and that an international transfer would take time. I asked if I could pay in cash, and then they asked me to follow their car to the headquarters, so we drove about thirty minutes to their headquarters. After getting there, I waited and got some tea. I explained to some police officers hanging around the waiting area that I wanted to stay for one night in the park and they told me several times that I would not be allowed to leave the car after sunset because there would be dangerous wild animals. After some time, the friendly managers brought me to the director’s office. I explained that I would like to stay one night at the spot I had found earlier. The director was friendly and approved of that. One of the managers gave me a form that I filled out, and then he asked me to pay via bank transfer again. I felt more tired, but I was still curious, and the whole process started to feel hilarious. I started to enter their bank account details into my Revolut app because I thought that one may be able to send the money way faster than my German bank. But they had no BIC code. Without the BIC code, transferring the money was not possible. The manager started to get frustrated and left me on the waiting couch again. I got tea, talked to some rangers and police officers, and waited. Some other rangers and police officers told me that I would not be allowed to leave my car after sunset again. And they told me that I was not allowed to go hiking without asking for permission. I felt reminded about the German bureaucracy. But there was one big difference: these Turkish guys were very friendly and helpful. After a pretty long time, the manager came back and took me back into the director’s office again. There I explained what I would like to do again: sleeping one night in Rosinante at that spot I had found. He filled out another form. I paid 25tl (about 2€) in cash, got a receipt, and after two hours, I was good to go. Easy.