Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Romania to Turkey Part 2

After two nights` atrocious sleep (see part 1) I arrived in Istanbul exhausted. I honestly don`t thınk I have been so out of ıt before from lack of sleep. We found somewhere that sold halloumi & coffee and collapsed. We discovered our hotel had no air conditioning and I began to cry into my coffee cup! So exhausted and so hot, another night of no sleep seemed too much. Nick did what every good husband should do - lecture her on it beıng a good way of her beıng stretched... then see she is not responding... she is still crying... and then book another hotel.

We had the day to explore Istanbul and it was gorgeous. Full of winding ancient streets, spilling with carpets, blue lanterns and hot bread, spears of blue and pink mosques everywhere (which are beautiful but I found it difficult... I wish they were built for Jesus!) and the sea just around the corner. We spent lunch by the sea - Nick loves the sea! so it was a real treat particularly for him. It was beautiful and İ loved dıppıng my feet in the water. I was pretty out of it from lack of sleep so I was a bıt more zoned. Post-snooze I was reinvigorated and we had a delightful dinner out that evening. The waiters were classic, the roasted veg delicious and we even bought some seriously cool (in more ways than one) pairs of trousers on the way home...

We assumed an easy 5.5 hour train ride to Ankara the next day - followed by a sleeper to Adana that evening. The 5.5 hour train ride proved to be epic. Rocking up to the train station in Istanbul we discovered there was more than one station in a city of 12.8 million people. Thankfully we met a helpful man who`d been a hairdresser in London. We told him our story. He loved our story and our hearts and bought us a drink. He also began to seriously advise us to save cash for the future and not to be foolish... worldwide advice! He waved us off in the right direction and so began a walk, a taxi, a boat and another walk - then our train journey which broke down for about 40 minutes in baking hot heat. We had to stop off at a random stop and catch another train for 1.5 hours. By this stage we knew there was no way we could catch the sleeper that night as planned. As we boarded our final 1.5 hours train we were both tired and bit dispirited. I prayed for us to have some fun...

And fun we had! This train was incredible... Weirdly, in the middle of turkey, for a very short journey, lies the poshest train in the world. Like an aeroplane, the seats are spotless, the guards wear lapels, there is a film option and seven radio stations, it is superbly cold and speeds through the desert at 250km/h. (Nick didn`t believe me initially so don`t doubt me. He told me he would eat my lovely white hat. He hasn`t yet.) We also discovered Maze - an extremely thrilling game on the ipod which involves twisting the actual ipod in cool shapes. So recommended. The desert was stunning as we raced through ıt - the sun setting in the pink sky, leaving the mountains almost violet in its dimming light.

We woke in Ankara this morning. It is a busy, hot, sprawling city with few tourists. It has been the first place where there seems to be very few English speakers. It makes me personally feel like we are an island detached from people - but I would love not to be! I love people and engaging with them - and it feels more lonely the more alien the city is.

I have found the last few days much harder than the first few. I was full of energy and travel appetite at first! Now I am more tired, the travelling and temperatures ahead seem too challenging, the cities unpersonal and too busy. In short I feel weak! Our times with God have been amazing, strengthening, crucial and beautiful since we began. I feel like I need him all the more as we continue. I know that whatever He asks, He will provide for. He is my shepherd, caring for me and making me lie down (see Ezekiel 34 and Psalm 23). I am also remembering a verse Noomi had for us as we left - `this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead`. I can see in so many ways my reliance on Him growing which brings more life and more love! What a pain that the path to this is so often weakness! But I see more of his grace... Do pray for me though - that we lean on Him ın challenging times - and that we are kind to ourselves as He is kind! Interspersed through these more difficult patches there is also lots of laughter and a fair amount of cuddling (although Nick is concerned we might get arrested so public hugs are brief)!

Another encouragement is Jesus on the cross and his love for me... I have been so impacted by a song called Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards... the lyrics are of Jesus `wıth arms wide open, a heart exposed, with arms wıde open, bleeding` and then Him saying `you shall love me - with arms wide open, a heart exposed, with arms wide open, bleeding, sometimes bleeding`... I am so hungry for this. As we ate supper in Istanbul, a young girl, deaf and dumb, approached us selling tissues. These lyrics flooded my mind again. Is it not horrendous that at night a child can approach adults eating and no one ask questions? Why is she there? Jesus` pure love for me and for children like her do fire me on through difficulty.

So the day-awaited sleeper tonight. Oh yes and for those of you who are praying, pray for us in these temperatures as they rise & rise! We will wake in Adana and bus along a bit from there. Going to sign off now and slink off in my supercool Turkish trousers and my snazzy Romanian bag. As if red hair and a backpack weren`t enough, I seem keen to prove to everyone I am a traveller.


  1. joyce and bill lear17 August 2010 at 15:57

    Cate my darling, you may be hot and tired but boy you are a born writer. We are praying that you will get used to heat (and find occasional air-conditioning!) and that Nick proves himself as a warrior in difficult times!! Lived in Istanbul for six months befor V born (!) and wish I cd hv described it as you did. Did u hv time to visit Aya Sofia? A huge hug to you both from J and B

  2. How beautifully you set the scene Cate! I feel as if I'm there with you both(Bet you're glad I'm not!!). I do laugh at some bits. So thank you for making it such fun to read and letting us come with you on this special journey and hold you both up in prayer! Much love Jean.xx

  3. Hey absolutely loved reading those blogs and itinery.
    Both blogs made me chortle.. good work on getting your crossword score to 16 I hope to hear an update on that later in the trip.

    If I could empart a travellers tip it would be if you are getting too knackered just take a days break or two - I remember the most stressful times are when you feel under pressure to make connections (esp in places where transport goes Pete Tong all the time!)

    Also I can give you some advice on the Mtwara to Pemba last leg - cos I was going to do that in reverse until my plans went awry doh

    I will pray for you guys in the heat keep up the good tales! And I can skype any day let me know when suits you two! P.Zog xxxxxx

  4. hi nick and cate,
    hope your trip is going well. :-)
    i just looked at your itinerary and see you go by where we live (khartoum) - except we're in the US having baby no.3 at the moment(until end october)! sorry we don't get to see you there, that would have been fun! but let me know if you need info/contacts etc there. :-)
    it's rainy season so on the drive you'll going to see everywhere looking alot greener than normal! and a lot less dust too so you picked a good time to go through. (but hope you don't encounter mud). anyway i love sudan and living there etc etc and i wish we could be there as you guys go through. :-)

  5. You are both doing amazingly well with the heat and the quite unfamiliar and different cultures one straight after the other. Even altho you are very very tired you are both still managing to challenge us with your thoughts - no surprises there tho'!
    Marvelous descriptions and tales - love hearing about the people you meet too. Off to post a facebook comment having been duly chastised by you! Love you both Mum and Dad xxx