I’m walking through the city, it is bitterly cold. I don’t know why I’m feeling so cold. I shouldn’t be but my teeth are chattering. There are many interesting buildings, let me take their photos. This place over here is also nice, worth for another photo. Ughh my fingers in my gloves got really frozen. I shall start to pedal as soon as possible. I really don’t know why I’m freezing to death. As I started to pedal a thick fog started to settle down. The fog was so thick that I couldn’t see my hands in front of my face. Woww there is another interesting building. I have to take a photo of it. Taking the camera out, shooting, putting back… won’t work. I’m freezing. I have to keep on moving. Why is everything passing so fast, why I’m speeding up? I have so much time, seven years. I’m pedaling again through the thick fog. The fog cloud is passing by so fast, what is my speed actually? I try to look at my road computer but can’t see even my bicycle. I’m wrapped in a huge white emptiness. Am I falling down? Yeap. I come to myself, I was dreaming. Let’s see how far this white emptiness is going to extent? “You may come here any time you want”. F.. IT, THERE IS SOMEONE OUTSIDE THE TENT. I immediately open my eyes, but struggle inside my sleeping bag, cannot unzip. F… the zip!!! Where is it? I need to take a breath. Calm down, don’t move and gasp. The zip is on the left hand side. I find it and unzip my sleeping bag right away. I knee inside my tent with a knife in my hand ready for a hit from outside. I’m aware of that my hearing has sharpened since I’m sleeping in the tent. Buster, what was it? It was like as if it was real and not just a dream, somebody really called these words!!! When sleeping in a tent at high altitudes I have such dreams frequently. But, I had never such a nightmare before. As if my ass was left outside in the cold. It was really horrible, a strange feeling. Woaa…
I’m on the last plain, guess to arrive tomorrow evening to Kiev. The thermometer shows minus 18 degrees. Keep on moving. I see small villages scattered around the road. Cars are passing by from time to time. Since this is the main road connecting Ukraine to Poland, the snow is removed but there are chunks of snow on both sides of the road. These snow chunks make it difficult to cross over to the side roads leading to the villages. As I was pedaling I saw a dark spot on the top of some snow chunk, seemed like moving, but couldn’t make up what it is. I came closer. Ups, is this a man? Why is he sitting right on the snow? I came a little closer. An old woman, her white hair sticking on her face, the walking stick just lying in front of her was embedded in the snow. She has been fallen down, unable to move. Recognizing me, she seeks for help with her shaky hands. Babushka (elderly woman in Russian) I’m here. My babushka I’m here. I just let my bicycle fall down on the right hand side on snow. I had a poncho in my rear bag. Grabbing it, I run towards her. I don’t know how long she was lying there on the snow without gloves on her hands. I remove my gloves and hold her frozen hands into mine. Her blue eyes are staring at me, she smiles. “Wait babushka.” I put my poncho on the snow, open my jacket and put her hands onto my belly. Please babushka, don’t die. I wrap her with my jacket and let her to seat on the poncho. Her clothing has got wet. The blue eyes surrounded with white hair look into my eyes. She is frozen to death, she shivers while talking. She looked at me for a long time. After she warmed up she showed me her house on the other side of the snow chunk, pretty close. We stood up. I grasped her holding tightly. We passed the chunk of snow together what she couldn’t manage alone. I had thrown my bicycle so that my front bag had fallen upside down on the snow with all the interior scattered over here and there. I said: “Wait a second, I’m just coming”. While I was picking up the scattered belongingsI saw my camera. Please, please work. Just as I was about to take a photo…. I won’t forget this moment for the rest of my life….
I ran towards her helping to get to her house. The path we walked on was almost only 50 m long, but not a single human passed by nor a car stopped to help during this period. I left babushka at her house and fell in a heap on the snow… Huffff haah huffff… Throughout my live I had fallen down in various different ways but tried to rise up every single time and have taken a lesson from every fall. I had never given up till yet. Also, won’t give up so easily. But, what will happen if I get older? I would also be going to fall down one day. Then, I hope someone would show up helping me so that I might smile at him/her. J They might also say to me: “Any time you want I will host you”. The fall I saw in my nightmare was yours. I realized that I might fall one day. You just remembered me that, Babushka. It’s good that I’m undertaking this journey. I’m grateful to and appreciate all the people who enable me to do this journey and who pray for me. Thank you very much…
At the moment I saw Babushka I started sweat out. Most probably, my high body temperature warmed her up immediately. But now I’m freezing, my teeth are chattering. I had never felt so cold. The tips of my fingers are cold burning. They got wet. I helped to the babushka, now it is time to help myself. I take my clothes off right in the middle of the street. I need to change all my cloths. They all got wet. I need to heat up my body. I swear that there is a so called power of “KI” which I made use of during the first 15 minutes till I heated my body up. This is the ever last minute internal energy left in one’s body. When you think that you are at the end of your power your sudden outcry rises your power up. At this moment your limits are pushed to the highest level. Here dude, beyond a certain speed this last outcry happens to me now. You see, there is no place where I can have a break to warm up. Therefore, I’m giving all my power into my legs, pedaling at a crazy rhythm. Meanwhile, I ought to pay attention to the icy road on the right hand side.
For weeks Turkish televisions are broadcasting that people are dying due to cold in Ukraine. That’s the reason why they die. There is no one to help them when they have fallen down. You would probably say, “Gurkan, you are also alone”. There is a holly giving his hand for the momentJ. I don’t say to any avail that we are traveling together.
A black car passes by slowing me down and finally stops in front of me. As I try to pass it, the man inside blows the horn. I stop.
– Hello, this is Berat. I’m the Cultural Attache of Turkish Embassy in Ukraine.
– Hi Mr. Berat.
– Let me invite you for a coffee over there. Well come to Ukraine by the way.
– Thank you very much for your offer Mr. Berat, but if I stop right now I won’t be able to arrive to Kiev today.
I had pedaled only 45 km and needed to take a real rest. If I would had stopped now, I wouldn’t be able make up that rest 40 km to Kiev. He comprehended and went.
My mind is still coping with what happened today. There is the story of bread in Turkmenistan, the moment I was forced to stop with a gun in Tajikistan, scenes in China, the man I was calling as “white Gandalf” in Japan, the many stories from my previous tour. Hmm, there must be reason. Let’s see what else I will run into.…
I salute the signboard of Kiev. Arriving to Kiev with bicycle during this time period… That’s it….