Road trip to Şanlıurfa

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October 23, 2013 by travelingsole

We traveled from Antakya to Şanlıurfa by bus. That bus trip was the worst road trip in all my 25 years. I will remember that bus for a long time. It was crowded, hot, and smelly.

Passenger vs Attendant Yelling Match

There was issue with a passenger that boarded part way into the trip. She only had one ticket but she had two small children with her. First of all, the ticket she had said that she was supposed to have the seat I was sitting in. My ticket also said it was my seat. Mix-ups like that were common. Since I was already there the attendant wanted to put her in the seat across the aisle. One of our group was also in a seat there but since he was male the lady had a problem with him sitting there. He kindly moved up to sit with his wife and two other children, which made it very crowded for them.

The lady settled into those two seats like she had moved in. The attendant didn’t like that she’d claimed both seats but only paid for one. She didn’t have money to pay for a second seat. A yelling match in Turkish ensued. (Thankfully the the bus got back on the road instead of waiting to get the issues settled.) The lady’s children were fussing loudly. She was yelling at the attendant. The attendant was yelling at her. Spitting happened. The ticket was examined at least 10 times. It was pointed out that there was only one seat reserved at least 20 times. People were called on the phone. More yelling happened. We watched in tired annoyance. The fight between the lady kept going for at least an hour. I was annoyed because we’d been shorted one seat and the lady had gained a seat. I felt like we’d been slighted. The attendant obviously agreed but besides physically removing the lady there was nothing to be done.

This fight disturbed the entire bus. Finally a man from the back came forward and slipped some cash to the attendant. As he went back to his seat he stopped and talked to the lady. I couldn’t understand the words but the tone of voice said “Shame on you!” The cash quieted the attendant and the lady got her way. Being good Christians we weren’t going to say anything about being slighted. In fact after the initial offense we decided, what better way to show Love than to be kind to this lady who violated our rights. Her children were really fussy so we offered them snacks across the aisle. We smiled at her and forgave her. At first she was resistant to us but after a while she warmed up enough to accepted the snacks and give us a small smile. Her children fussed the rest of the trip.

Bus breakdown

After the fight was settled down and people had cooled down things were peaceful for a while. Then the air conditioner broke. Hot air was blowing from the vents. People were getting irritable. Finally we stopped at a bus station for a break. People dashed in to use the toilet and grab a quick snack the attendants. By the way, you have to pay 1 lira to use the squatty potty and bring your own toilet paper. So while we stopped the attendants took a quick look “under the hood” and decided repair work was in order.

Being English speakers our group was gathering information as we could. We’d try to find someone that spoke English to translate for us. How long is this stop going to be? What is going on? How long will the repair take? On a previous bus trip one our group was still inside the rest area when the bus decided it was time to leave. See story at bottom of this post.

From the bus stop we were taken to the bus repair shop. We were told it would be about a half hour. Understanding Turkish time frame as well as we did by this point we knew it would be longer than that. We were led to a nearby hole-in-the-wall restaurant for a meal. Not a free meal either. The restaurant was so filthy that I opted out. I preferred going hungry to getting sick.

An hour and half later we are finally back on the road. Grouchier than ever but grateful to be back on the road. We were hot, tired, hungry and sore from sitting in those tiny seats for 8.5 hours. The trip that was supposed to be 6.5 hours.

We finally got to Şanlıurfa. Sigh. I was never more grateful to get off that bus.

Story from previous bus trip

Back to the story of the left behind lady. We were on our way to Cappadocia with the large group. We made periodic restroom stops and they were normally 10-15 minutes. One of the ladies, Kim, got off to go in and use the toilet. The rest of our group decided to stay on and not many Turkish people got off either. After being there for about 5 minutes the Turkish people came back on and the bus pulled away. They obviously knew more about what was going on than we did. Kim was no where around. Kim’s husband was sleeping so he didn’t notice. I was holding her sleeping daughter while she went in so I hollered up to one of our group that spoke Turkish and told him of the problem. Ten minutes down the road our group member was able to get through to the attendant that there was a major problem and we HAD to GO BACK. Kim was left behind with no money or phone and she didn’t speak very much Turkish. We were still in the area thankfully but we’d left the bus stop to go to the repair shop and get a “quick fix”. Yes, there are a lot of buses that need on-the-go repairs. Forty minutes after we left the bus stop we finally got back there.

I was praying hard for that entire forty minutes. There is a lot of human trafficking in Turkey so I was worried. What if she’d been kidnapped? What was she supposed to do with no money or phone? We pulled into the bus stop and there she was calmly waiting on a bench. I wanted to cry with relief. She said when she came out and saw the bus gone she knew that God would take care of her. She’d gone in and talked to the police but they were very unhelpful and said “Nothing we can do”. Kim said ” Since there was nothing I could do, I knew God would have to take care of me. My plan was to wait there until I knew for sure that you weren’t coming back then I was just going to sneak onto a bus that was headed to Cappadocia”. God did take care of her.

There are many other stories of how God provided for us. I will not be able to share them here online but if you want to hear more stories you can talk to me in person. I will also be giving a presentation with all the pictures and stories. Hopefully that will happen in the next month. My dad plans to host it here at our shop so anyone is invited. I will let you know details when it gets planned.

Thanks for all your support,



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