A Streetcar Named Güzelyalı: The Sequel

When I wrote Part I of this series, I did not have a sequel in mind. Indeed I hoped by writing that post I would somehow get over my intense dislike of public transportation (in any country). Little did I know that the C11G bus would become a metaphor for my time in Çanakkale, Turkey. I will bet your çay money and mine that I spent at least one hour every day waiting for a bus. A Turkish tourist visa is for 90 days max. You do the math.

The View from My Bus Stop

The View from My Bus Stop

Yes, that yellow building is the Kipa. Think small-town Wal Mart (not Target), Turkish style. I sat in “my” bus stop with all sorts of people, many of whom were quite friendly; some of whom were… less than warm. Occasionally, I would look to the left to see if C11G was at the stop light about 200 yards away.

And on your LEFT, ladies and gentlemen, there is no bus.

And on your LEFT, ladies and gentlemen, there is no bus.

So, I would look back across at the Kipa, then look to the right where I really wanted to go.

Look Homeward!

Look Homeward!

It is perhaps fitting that on my last day of classes, the city rolled out (haha) a new addition to the C11G fleet: a brand new, wider, Mercedes model with air conditioning, TV, and yes, an air freshener.

As I climbed aboard, nobody caught my eye and nodded. The driver was more secluded/protected behind a waist-high wall. If he had decided to yell at us we wouldn’t have heard him over the music videos. The younger passengers were enjoying the facing seats as were families and friends who were all heading somewhere. I chose one of the single seats on the right side. There was plenty of room for the old ladies to place their numerous grocery bags on the floor. When we careened around the tight corners on the one-lane “road” no one shouted as a result of being thrown onto another passenger. All in all, it was a peaceful, comfortable ride back to Dardanos.

My walk from the bus stop. I took the left fork to get to my room with a view.

My walk from the bus stop. I took the left fork to get to my room with a view.

During the walk from the bus stop to my room, it hit me- not the bus; the idea that things were getting better. At least on the surface. The people on that new bus were the same people I saw on most afternoons if I was lucky enough to catch the express bus. On that afternoon we all knew that we wouldn’t get that new bus every day, so it was best not to expect too much. The sun was shining, and there were signs of spring everywhere.

Whatever I say about having my professional and personal activities regulated by a bus schedule, I enjoyed every single walk home from the bus stop. There was always someone and something to see, and even on the nasty days (nothing compared to those in Kansas, for example) the weather always gave me a break.

My students informed me that they hated the buses. I should mention here that there are no buses after midnight. I can see how parents might like this one. For some reason, adults were not supposed to complain about the bus. It was… well, it was the bus in the room that no one would acknowledge. My students did not have cars. Most adults I knew did. Those who didn’t asked friends to take them places or took the bus to the Kipa and got picked up by friends. I did this many times because gas is terribly expensive in Turkey, and most people did not want to drive the 15 miles out to Dardanos.

Basically, in the little corner of Turkey that I explored, getting there (or anywhere) is no fun at all, but then I was among a minority of folks who expected the trip to actually be fun. I was among an even smaller minority of folks who actually complained about it. There is so much to do once you get wherever you’re going that it really is better to just hang on and enjoy the ride.

Yes, really.

Yes, really.