July 16, 2013 by travelingsole
We have made it to Turkey. Not without some difficulty. Courtney and I got up at 3:30 in the morning Monday to make it on the bus in Pittsburgh by 6:30. We hit the road at about 4:30. 20 minutes down the road our nice little trip was interrupted quite abruptly by a deer running across the road in front us. I saw it coming up through the ditch and yelled for Lucas to hit the brakes but it was too late. My poor car didn’t look very good so rather than risk the car overheating an hour down the road we called for my mom to come swap cars with us. Yes, we got her out of bed at 5am. Through this whole waiting for her to get there we discovered that the bus was actually leaving at 6:20 instead of 6:30.
Once we swapped cars we pedal-ed-to-the-metal for an hour and half. I called Jake and Mr Russell and they said they were there early. I had them do some investigation for us. What would happen if we missed the bus? Could we meet them at the first stop in State College? Would the bus wait 5 minutes for us if we were almost there and the bus driver knew how close we were? Why in the world was traffic going so slow when they knew we were trying to get to the bus station? Was the bus actually on time? We are never going to make it. Have you left yet? We are 11 miles away. Are you still there we are 3 minutes away? Yes, we are still here but we are all loaded and getting ready to pull out.
We pulled into the station just as the car parked directly behind the bus was leaving. We whipped into the spot recently vacated. I jumped out and ran up to the driver. “Is this the NY bus?” “Yes, but we leave at 6:20. You are late.” I look at my watch. 6:33. They were still here. Hmm, we leave at 6:20 really? That’s what I was thinking. What I said… with pleading eyes… “Can we still get on?” “We have tickets for this bus.” He looked at his other bus driver friends with incredulous eyes? Seriously, these girls are 15 minutes late and they still want to get on my bus?… He begrudgingly let us board while he stowed our luggage all the while muttering “We leave at 6:20. Not 6:21. 6:20.”
I think that bus driver deciding to hobnob with his friends that morning was an act of God. There were a lot of people praying that we would make that bus. We shouldn’t have made it. But we did… That is how the trip began. It should have been a sign.
The rest of the trip started out ok but when we got to Moscow it started going down hill. We’d just gotten off a 10.75 hr flight and we were tired. We’d already been going for 20+ hrs. At passport control they asked us if we were the Istanbul flight. “Yes.” “Your flight has been cancelled but no worries we have put you on another flight at 10:30. I thought ok not bad. I thought that until we looked at local time and realized that would turn our 4 hr layover into an 11 hr layover. We couldn’t get visas to leave the airport. We’d have to make ourselves comfortable and settle in. We started realizing also that we would miss our final flight.
Thank God I had decided to bring my smart phone along and Thank God! that the airport had airport-wide wifi. We quickly emailed our friends at the final destination and asked them to help us by rescheduling our final flight which was purchased on a separate itinerary. God worked in amazing ways. By chance one of the guys decided to check his email before he continued running errands to prepare for us to get there. They were able to get us new flights and since they’ve received refunds for all our 20 of our cancelled flights.
May hours of waiting, sleeping on hard airport floors, moving from gate to gate, drinking expensive coffee, trying to get info from very unhelpful flight agents, and more hours of waiting. We arrived extremely hot and tired at 8:30 local time (1:30 EST) Wednesday morning. That was 46 hrs of traveling for me. My the time I was able to run through the shower and get to bed it was almost exactly 48 hrs.
That first day I was so tired I wanted to go home. Jetlag has never been quite that bad for me. I’ve never been as homesick as I was that day. I just wanted to cry. I was on the verge of tears all day. But the people were nice and they gave us lots of grace. Sleeping wasn’t that easy. It was hot. It’s Ramadan right now so at 2:30 the drummer goes by on the street with the intention of waking everyone so they can prepare a meal before sunrise. There was also a very unhappy baby. But the sleep made life bearable.
Since the jet lag is over I’ve been loving Turkey. The sleeping is still a bit of a struggle but I’ve moved to sleeping in the living room with the AC, using earplugs, and just overall getting used to the drummer (the baby is sleeping through the night).
It’s a beautiful country and I’m enjoying discovery so far.