HELLO + WELCOME as we make our way from Sydney to London via Africa.
In this post we tell our story of crossing the Mediterranean from Egypt to Turkey.
It’s Kirsty writing today.
The journey aboard a ship from Egypt to Turkey was a bit of a mystery and we weren’t sure what to expect. We were so happy to figure out a passage forward it hadn’t phased us whether we would be sleeping on the deck or eating slop for a few days.
To our great surprise the crew took great care of us. The crew were all Turkish and after nine months in Africa it was like entering another World.
We were treated to a private cabin with bunk beds, shower, a loo and a scruffy little circular window. It was stuffy and reeked like ammonia but we couldn’t feel anything but lucky to not be sleeping on the floor.
We spent our time rolling from our beds to the deck to the dining room. It’s easy and comforting to fall into a routine aboard a ship. Particularly after nine months of no routine.
At our first meal we line up behind the truck drivers and grab a long steel plate. No sooner has a fast moving Turkish crew member spun us around and shuffled us into the crew’s private dining room. They insist we eat their meals and not the ‘b-grade’ meals. Which seems funny to us because the other food looks great compared to what we have been eating lately.
A polished white plate, knife, fork and napkin is laid out in front of us. It’s all so efficient. Sweet tea is poured into sparkling clean glasses. The dining hall fellow effortlessly goes about treating us like 5-star guests in a ‘I’m not fussing, I’m just doing the right thing’ type of way. We just sit there in shock of all the efficiency.
Our first lunch is a zucchini and mince bolognese seasoned perfectly with a garnish! What the hell is a garnish? Accompanied with fresh bread and a savoury pastry. Insane.
The second in command captain, Ozgar, invites us to the bridge for a sunset coffee. He is a kind and smart man who misses his wife and 18-month old baby. After a few shouty weeks in Egypt his gentle conversation of ‘What are your plans for Turkey’… ‘If I may, I would like to suggest’ and ‘For a clue, go here…’ are lovely.
Gareth says how beautiful the ocean is and he replies ‘For you beautiful. For me I see it every day, not beautiful. It’s a dangerous job working on a ship. Mining number one, Sailing number two. Very difficult jobs”.
He has worked all around the world and this is one of the oldest ships he has worked on. At 40 years old the bridge is a collection of a million buttons. I imagine life on a new ship would be far more comfortable – nicer rooms, wifi, air-con. I think about our stuffy ammonia scented room where the aircon and fans are broken and wonder if his room is the same. I’m happy to be here but also happy to hop off in the next 24-hours. Whereas Oz stays on for 5 months at a time!
As the sun sets we are now closer to Europe than we are to Africa. I feel calm and relieved. Relived because while it’s been nine months of the most amazing adventure I can now feel my senses slowing down. Prompting us both to think about life after this expedition. In the middle of the Mediterranean on this funny old ship we feel like anything we set our minds to will be possible.
The ship is calm – there is order and quiet. There is no-one yelling at each other. No one watching us. Just a welcoming vibe when we get our meals. Going down to the dining room is like groundhog day. As we approach Europe a breakfast spread of bread, toast, jam, honey, olives, feta cheese and butter is laid out. A tea with two cubes of sugar and another perfectly cleaned glass appears. Again the guy clears our plates and wipes the table for crumbs. And, wait for it, uses spray and wipe to disinfect the table. This is definitely the first time in 9 months we have seen spray and wipe used! Wow!
As Gareth says, it’s amazing that all we have done is hop on a Turkish ship and the whole world has changed. A little microcosm of the sophistication and ‘way things are done’ in the European world. The knot in my stomach feels like it has unravelled. The challenge feels like it is subsiding. Perhaps, it’s time to just have a holiday in Europe! Imagine that.
Land comes into view on the horizon of the great big blue. We see Syria. And then Turkey. We are so excited to dive into the Mediterranean.
Thanks for following our stories from the expedition guys. We love sharing this with you.