My Destination is Bellingham

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Turkish Hospitality: The Menemen Trucker

I don't recall his name, the menemen trucker. Let's call him Osman. We would meet him on the side of the road in Middle of Nowhere, western Turkey. It was a dusty town full of old beater cars rattling down worn-out streets. My rolling luggage made a terrible racket as I drug it along. Heads turned. People stared. We walked on.

I was hitch-hiking with two fellow couchsurfers along Turkey's coastline from Antalya to Istanbul, a distance of over 1000 kilometers. We'd come to Middle of Nowhere by chance, dropped off by a generous driver who wished us well as we clumsily uttered Thank-you's in Turkish.

Now normally when hitch-hiking, hopeful freeloaders hold up a sign and/or stick out a thumb. We did plenty of both during our autostop adventures. In Middle of Nowhere, however, we simply worked our way down the road in search of better thumbing locations. As we walked I heard a large vehicle slowing behind us. We watched as an enormous semi-truck pulled over and Osman the driver climbed out. Turning to my travel companions, I smiled. We had ourselves a ride.

Through a combination of gestures and broken English Osman asked us what the hell we were doing walking down the side of the road in a dusty Turkish town full of old beater cars rattling down worn-out streets, making a great deal of noise and causing heads to turn. We simply replied "autostop...Istanbul!" and he understood. Osman pointed to his truck and signaled for us to get in.

Getting picked up by a big rig is the weary hitch-hiker's dream: what's better than high-rolling (literally) down the open road for free? Barreling north in our comfy cab, we struggled to converse with Osman. Our embarrassingly limited command of the Turkish language combined with a Lonely Planet phrasebook could only get us so far:

Osman: You like Turkey?

Me: Evet, Turkey çok güzel! (Yes, Turkey is very nice!)

Ria: I like Cappadocia. Çok güzel!

Sarah: Antalya too!

Osman smiled and made an eating motion with his hand, presumably asking about our favorite Turkish foods. Altogether we exclaimed "menemen!"

Shortly thereafter Osman pulled over at a grocery store and emerged with a bag of vegetables and eggs. "Menemen!" he announced, holding the bag up for all to see. Wait...what? Menemen is a scramble that must be prepared over heat. We hit the road again, this time rather curious and confused.

Perhaps an hour later Osman pulled over once more, ushering us out of the vehicle. He opened a compartment in the truck's underbelly, revealing a surprisingly well-stocked kitchenette. Working quickly, he started chopping green peppers and tomatoes while frying eggs. Osman prepared a roadside meal in the most Turkish way imaginable: complete with endless bread and tea. Hands down the most memorable meal I've ever enjoyed.

The menemen trucker is a prime example of Turkish (Truckish?) hospitality. Though his real name escapes me, I will never forget Osman and the kindness he so freely gave.
View from my balcony while volunteering in Cappadocia Osman cooking up some menemen! Enjoying roadside tea with Osman
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Brandon Fralic

Brandon Fralic

Currently located in:
Bellingham, United States.
About me in 140 characters or less

"Burnt-out fruit ninja seeking the simple things in life: food, music, beer, maps, and good company. Only adventure need apply."

A bit more about Brandon:

"I draw the line at eating... Meat - I'm a veggie through and through"

"My most essential travel phrase is... Your finest beer please, barman!"

"My most memorable souvenir is... A Turkish licence plate I found on the side of the road while hitching to Istanbul. It has traveled many miles with me, carefully smuggled through airport security checkpoints along the way ;)"

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