Day 1. Istanbul.

A two week stay in Turkey Lurkey for zero moneys.
After hearing great
things about woofing, we found the websites helpX and workaway ( and A
traveling trade system not determined by money. Each party benefits
fairly, getting what they need and want from the exchange, cutting out
the capitalist bollocks middle man. Trade in provision of skills, 4-5
hours per day of volunteer work in return for accommodation and food.
There's a huge choice of hosts in every country around the world, and
the work varies from milking cows in Germany to helping sail a ship
delivering medicines to remote islands of the pacific. A great deal of
the work revolves around helping set up Eco-farms, self-sustainable
villages, organic gardening, animal care, building work, in return for
a clean and comfortable place to sleep and 3 meals a day, often cooked
with veg grown on site. Workers also get the chance to learn new
skills in Eco-building and self-sustainable living, explore in free
time, and to immerse themselves in the cultural lifestyle of wherever

We decide on 17 days in Turkey during Easter holidays. Two weeks in
the ancient village Assos on the Aegean coast, followed by a few days
in Istanbul, couch surfing (another great website We
found a host needing help at an Eco-sanctuary, requiring garden work,
animal care, building, art works, cooking. He was a new host and
hadn't yet receieved any workers, therefore, no reviews. But it looked
perfect, and after a couple of brief semi-english emails, it was
agreed that he would collect us at 3:45pm, 20th March, Istanbul
airport, and all we need to bring is a nice bottle of 'rom'.

We scoured the Internet for the cheapest flights, British airways
there, easyjet back. A beautiful, clear day across europe, meant we
could see other planes in the sky with us, some seeming an
inappropriately short distance away. Nick tells me about the time his
auntie was on a plane and they peered out of the window to see a plane
crossing below them, so close that the pilot then appologises for a
fairly close crossing of flight paths. Later I'm squinting out of the window
and 'oh my GOD....'' flattening myself back against the chair,
grabbing arm rests, Nick leans over to see what I've seen out of the
window, stuffs his hand in his mouth to stifle his
'ohmygodfuckfuckingGODDDD'. A jumbo zooming along, 30 metres below us.
I think it makes most people a bit uneasy thinking about sitting in a hunk of metal being hurtled through nothingness by massive spinning blades that could decide they're done with spinning in one
direction and have a rest or start spinning the other way for a bit,
at any moment, and suddenly there's another big precarious metal
hurtling about in your nothingness space. Could not fricking handle
it. Alarmed "OH MY GOD" exclamations aren't appropriate plane
get thrown about in the turbulance from their dirty jet stream for a
while as we hurtle along together. From earth jet streams look like
harmless puffs of steam, i didn't realise they are actually black and
dirty and hang in the sky for miles too long. We landed, alive, as
with every flight i am overwhelmingly surprised by this and vow to
never get on a plane again.

Get our bags, hand over 10 British pounds for a visa and through the
exit to hundreds of staring faces with notice boards and names. With
no idea who or what we're looking for we edge along, standing out as
the only people in the room with blondeish hair. We're swept up by
Metin and his friend Fatma. He greets us with a 'You are late.' and we
awkwardly begin to blab apologies about plane delays and queues but
they smile and put their arms around us and kiss us on both cheeks.
They're calm and cool with warm eyes and smiles.

Mesud is in his 40s, speaks better English than we expected, he has a
hilarious dry sense of humour. He's a textile designer and owner of
two restaurants in Istanbul, and Fatma, who speaks English fluently,
is 30 and a Dora therapist, very beautiful and glamorous.
She warns us not to take his dark humour seriously.
He takes us to his cafe in the Old Town for food. It is
lovely, full of art and funky design pieces, with a corner for selling
his textiles. He tells us we can have anything we want from the menu.
We can't decide. We're brought stuffed aubergine and falafel. I start
clumsily spooning tzatziki over the aubergine, i notice him looking at
me. 'You're eating it wrong, darling.....'
Oh. ha ha ha.. Apparently you eat tzatziki like soup.

The food is delicious and Mesud laughs as we try to offer him money.
He asks if we mind staying a few days in Istanbul as he has some work
to finish before we head to the farm. This fits our plans perfectly as
we can use this as our Istanbul stint instead of finding a couch to
surf at the end of the holiday. He makes a phone call to a friend who
puts us up in his hotel for 3 nights, free of charge, breakfast
included. We've been in Istanbul just a few hours but it seems like
Mesud has friends in everyone, from all his cafe staff to an old man
on the street who sorts him out parking. Nothing is too much trouble.
We can't quite believe our luck.


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