Reaching Kayseri

6 June 2011

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It takes two days for a combi to drive from Bingol to Kayseri when you factor in the fact that you must stop every 20 km to check the oil level and that the engine overheats if it’s run for more than two hours at a time. When the little light flashes on the odometer/multipurpose gauge to tell you that he is feeling too hot, you have to stop, open the motor cover and let combi cool down a bit.

You find all kinds of ways to amuse your self while he is resting.

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But when you finally reach Kayseri, you are tired, dirty, and ready for a rest yourself.

We were incredibly lucky. Jennifer, a friend and our personal savior from Istanbul that Molly worked with during her time living there last year, had called her brother in law, Basar, who is living in Kayseri with his wife Lale, and posted there as a cargo pilot for the Turkish airforce to greet us when we arrived in Kayseri. He and his wife arranged inexpensive lodging—one of Turkey’s Oretmen Evi’s or Teacher’s House where we could stay the night.

When we rolled in after 3 full days on the road, Basar and Lale, a young couple in their late 20’s, looked at us like we might be insane—“Why you want this car?” Lale kept asking us. “You like this car or your husband like this car?” She asked Molly when she had her away from the boys. Molly shrugged and said, “Everyone like this car!”

Showing us the full Turkish hospitality, even in the face of our apparent weak psychological state, Basar and Lale had us over for dinner before taking us to the Oretmen Evi where we fell into our beds exhausted.

The following morning, Basar came to take us to MNG Cargo where our parts were supposed to arrive. We crossed our fingers and toes and this time, amazingly enough, it worked! A small box full of engine seals and various other specialty parts was waiting for us at the MNG office.

Diego, Aurel and Basar headed out to an area of town were all the mechanics worked where Basar knew someone personally who was VW savy. Molly went to spend the day with Lale at their apartment building inside the Kayseri military complex.

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The boys had a big job on their hands. By that time the engine emitting a thick blue smoke which indicated that oil was dripping and burning just about everywhere. The engine would have to be removed and seals and rings and other things changed.

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Basar led Diego and Aurel to a haven of mechanics just outside of the city of Kayseri, it was like a whole world of garages populated by men in coveralls who looked like they had been there for decades. Three different mechanics looked at the bus’s engine and came up with three different verdicts.

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Two were convinced that the thing had to be scrapped and that they could salvage a new engine from a junkyard that would be in better shape. One was willing to help change the seals and rings but insisted that the pistons and cylinders would need changing as well. He wanted more money than the bus costs us to do the job.

After a the mechanic pow wow, Basar’s friend and personal mechanic stepped forward and said he would do the work for less and was willing to try just to change the few pieces that we had ordered replacements for. He was convinced the engine wouldn’t leak afterwards, which no matter what, would make a huge difference.

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Hours and hours went by. Aurel and Diego worked and worked, Basar staying with them the entire time, smoothing out the communication problems and being on hand for all kinds of urgent needs. What started off as a six hour project became eight hours, then ten, then twelve. On and on into the evening they worked.

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Molly called to check in, each time the boys underestimated how much time was left. Lale paced the house wondering if Basar would ever return. She was starting to see that the bus had lured him in and even this little piece of the adventure had captivated him. Finally, at midnight the engine was back inside the bus and Diego, Aurel, and Basar returned to the military complex around 1am.

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We had hoped the work would take around 6 hours, and by late afternoon we would be heading toward Capadoccia,

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one of the most treasured and beautiful places in Turkey (see our next post), but by early evening that was clearly a dream of the past. By the time the bus was finished the only place we were headed was the Oretmen Evi for another night.

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