The day I almost ruined my trip
By Sergio Camalich
I had started that day with a great attitude, ready to hitchhike my way up to Batumi, after almost 3 months of traveling and falling in love with Turkey and everything it has to offer.
Having been hosted for one last time in Trabzon, early in the morning I met with my friend Anil and made our way to the highway from where got our first ride of the day and after being left in a nearby town, it didn’t take long before we found a georgian driver that was going all the way to Batumi.
“Sweet!”—I thought. It was going to be easier than expected.
Lesson #1: Check your visas
Arriving at the border was a piece of cake, but once we tried to cross, a policeman told us that only the driver was allowed to cross in the car and we had to cross by foot.
Weird thing: He also told us we had to leave our baggage inside the car. A very uncomfortable situation since we were hitchhiking, but oh well, we didn’t have much options.
One of the things I was more excited about visiting Turkey is that I had 90-days tourist visa. That meant I was going to be able to spend as much time as I wanted and see the country almost entirely.
So when the officer at the exit border started to act weirdly, I assumed it had something to do with my uncommon Mexican passport—something that has happened in almost every border control since I left Latin America.
After several minutes of waiting and the incessant stares of the people in line, a man took to the side and guided me to an adjacent office where more non-English speaking people re-checked all my documents.
Dealing with people in power when non of you speak a common language is one of the worst situations you can find yourself in and my broken Turkish was just not cutting it.
Increasingly desperate to go out and find Anil and our driver, it took almost an hour of not knowing what the heck was going on before they started writing a quote with my name and $100usd in it.
Instantly, I started asking why, was told to shut up and with an evil-ish laugh, they pointed at my visa and to my surprise, it said I was only allowed to stay in the country for 30 days.
I had spent 85 days stupidly ignoring the fact that I had 1/3 of the time I thought!
Once I showed them I only had $30 Liras in my pocket, they just laughed again and stamped my passport.
“Mr. Camalich,” said the officer in a very practiced English. “You are deported from Turkey for the next 5 years. Have a nice day!”
I wondered in how many other countries I could exploit this.
Lesson #2: Never EVER leave you backpacks alone
I ran all the way to the Georgian side and crossed the border only to find Anil with a question mark for a face.
“I cannot find our ride!”—he exclaimed.
In a country where most people don’t speak English but Georgian, Russian or Turkish, I cannot believe how lucky I was that this has happened while with somebody who could actually communicate. Otherwise I would have been completely lost.
We wanted to check the security cameras, but they would not allowed us without a police order. Luckily, a local offered to give us a ride to the station, told our story and then rode us back to the border where we tried talking with more officers.
A couple of hours later, we had the order and started watching the cameras on the Georgian side. Progressing one step at a time.
Absolutely nothing. Nothing at all!
The car we rode the border didn’t even crossed the border. How???
So we head back to the police station and they started taking our declarations which took EONS only to be led back to the border well after sunset.
Not being allowed to go back to Turkey, I had to wait on a shitty Café while Anil went back and tried to find what was happening.
Turns out, our driver didn’t have a drivers license so he was force to leave his car in the No Man’s land between Turkey and Georgia.
To this day, I don’t know why he didn’t leave a message with someone at the border so we were not—pardon my french—shitting our pants for almost a full day, but whatever, we had his information!
Almost no cash in our pockets, we bargained hard to get a taxi ride back to the Police Station, where we had been talking with a very weird lady throughout our time there, and were finally able to contact our driver, agreeing on meeting the next morning so we could retrieve our stuff.
“I’ll BE ABLE TO KEEP TRAVELING! LIFE IS GREAT!”—And then a nervous after you start realising that everything is OK again.
“You can sleep in my hotel,”—invited us the weird old lady.
And that’s the story of how I ended up sleeping at a Georgian brothel, but that one is for another time…