More from our adventures of our broken down car in the wild East
It was August and we were in the Southeast. It was hot, and it was also Ramadan, the month of fasting. The neighbor lady came out again to invite us in. When she heard about our situation, she invited Barbara, Renate and the boys to stay with her while I went back to Ankara to get the other transmission. We spent the day resting in the oppressive heat.
That evening I again boarded the bus for the long ride to Ankara. I took the new transmission with me partly to make sure I got the proper parts off the old one and partly to make sure the mechanic didn’t sell any parts off of the new one!
The next question I had was, do I now have to transport both transmissions back with me or is there a better way to give the mechanic what he needed?
I arrived in Ankara on Sunday morning and took a taxi home. On the way I saw my local mechanic pass us in his car. I had never seen him anywhere but in his shop before, so this was a definite God sighting.
“Follow that car,” I shouted excitedly in English to the taxi driver, then realized my error and translated it into Turkish. We were able to catch the mechanic, and he agreed to follow us to my house.
After looking over the two transmissions, he took the necessary parts off of the old one and put them on the new one. That simplified everything for me! That was definitely a clear answer to my prayer!
That night I got on the bus once again, hopefully for my last twelve-hour trip to the East. I noticed that the driver was the same one from the previous night, so I greeted him. At 3am we stopped for “breakfast” and the driver, Adam, invited me to eat with him. I learned that he was from the village where the first mechanic had looked at our car.
When I arrived at the repair shop, the mechanic looked pleased with what I’d brought. “OK, I’ll get to work on this. It will take me two days to get it back together.”
For two days we stayed with our widow lady friend, a chance to see Turkish culture and its wonderful hospitality from the inside out. She, as a good Muslim was, of course, fasting, which meant no food or water from sunup (5am) to sundown (8pm). But she did give us food and drinks during the day, although she slept most of the time herself.
Every night at 3 am a drummer would come through the neighborhood to make sure that everyone got up to make breakfast before sunrise. Our nights were short with broken sleep.
There was nowhere to wash, and there was no running water most of the time. I was so sweaty that I longed for a shower, so one afternoon I took one teacup of drinking water, went into the “squat toilet,” stripped down and very slowly poured that water over myself. Ah, the refreshment of washing off all that sweat! I had never appreciated a shower so much, limited as it was!
The next day I went downtown by city bus. A villager got on, an elderly man. He sat across from me and stared. Then he got up, came over and gave me a very close and careful inspection, with his face about two inches from mine.
I greeted him in Turkish and he jumped back. His expression said, “He talks!” He had never seen a foreigner before and reacted as if he were confronted with some strange creature. That helped me to understand how far from western influence we were. He was a nice man and we had a pleasant chat after he grasped that I could speak Turkish.
When the car was finally ready, we went with our widow lady into town, picked up her refrigerator from a repair shop and brought it home for her. It was the least we could do after her wonderful hospitality.
Picture: a back street photo from the time of our 1981 car repair in the eastern city.