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It all started with a few errands at the small local supermarket. I came across a box of Bonduelle peas.
Suddenly, I remembered a lot of childhood memories. There was no supermarket at that time in Turkey. Some grocery stores more or less well provided. The milk was delivered by a small local producer. He was walking the streets with his cart pulled by a donkey, or maybe a mule. In front of each building, he stopped and climbed the stairs carrying a can of milk. The women had left a saucepan covered with a plate on their mat. In the pan a little money. The milkman would pour the amount of milk corresponding to the money he could find. Sometimes at the end of the tour, he would cut his milk with water: everyone had to be satisfied. The hardest part was the summer. With the heat, the milk often went sour. On those days, you had to find something else for breakfast.
Today’s Turkey has nothing to do with this memory. The country has moved from the 19th century to the 21st in less than 40 years.
I wonder what Kyrgyzstan looked like at that time. The time of the USSR. It was then almost impossible to enter these countries. They were behind the Iron Curtain. They have not seen Turkey’s rapid development. But it will not be long now: even if it started a little late, it is now well and truly launched. Globalization is on the move and Bonduelle peas can now be eaten in Kyrgyzstan.
Tourism is also developing there. Backpackers are to tourism, what bryophytes, mosses if you prefer, are to flora: they are the ones who first colonize the space. Mass tourism will follow shortly thereafter. And backpackers, whether they are on bicycles, motorcycles or public transit, there are really many of them around. Although as far as motorcycles are concerned, they have already gone back to Europe to get warm. Winter arrive quickly at these altitudes. I had the bitter experience of it, since my usual zenitude (lymphatism?) made me a little too late and the Pamir is now inaccessible to me. But this is not too serious. I’ll be back. It’s easy to rent a motorcycle here, and in 3 weeks in the summer, there’s really something to enjoy. But yes, this is not really the unknown. Well, not enough for my taste. Is it this state of affairs that leaves me with this latent feeling of dissatisfaction that I have experienced since the beginning of this trip? Not enough adventure? Not enough strangers? Guido, whom I met recently, 6 years of motorcycle touring the world, told me that we should never start with Africa. Maybe he’s right. The lack of communication also frustrates me deeply. Russian is here, what French is in West Africa: the common language, the language of exchange. Here, yes, it is certain, you have to speak Russian if you really want to enjoy the trip. Equestrian culture is extremely rich, but I could only get a glimpse of it: not enough people who know Russian AND horses.
And also… maybe despite my white skin, my heart is too black?
“… I’m not black
I am white of skin
When you want to sing of hope
What a lack of luck…”
Africa, my Africa, said the poet. “Black, never Back” say the Africans.
This morning when I woke up, I almost left. Stop thinking, and rally Africa as soon as possible. To trace in order to find myself in African soil at last. Returning to my steps, and from Greece find a boat that takes me to Jewish land and from there, on a dhow to Egypt and then Sudan. Why not. I like the idea.
Or continue as planned. Iran, Pakistan. It must be Pakistan, I think. Away from backpacker circuits. Away from everything. Then, once in India, find a boat or plane and go to Tanzania or Mozambique?
I wrote to Kuehne and Nagel today. I await their answer.
What would you do? Yes, I know… a shame not to explore Asia more… but Africa is in me. She’s calling me. I think I have to go back.
PS: Oh yes. The picture was my mother talking to the grocery store.
PS bis: Don’t make me say what I don’t say: no, it wasn’t better before. It was different. We have gained in some areas and lost in others.
PS ter: the 20th century has been the century of improving living comfort (I mean comfort and not quality of life which is another more subjective notion), productivity, rapid urbanization… and that of ugliness too. God, most cities are ugly here and there.
PS 4: the beginning of Turkish industrialisation: 1970, Renault settles in a field….