Stuck in Turkey as the ash cloud swells

Monday morning in Istanbul. Chaos reigns at the airport and the messages from home are increasingly concerned.

But us? We’re fine. We’re the lucky ones.

Copyright Peter Mallet

Close shave

This time last week I spent the morning getting a good shave at the local barber, drinkıng tea on the banks of the Bosphorus and tucking into a particularly succulent chicken kebab.

We had arrived late the previous night into Istanbul from Antalya after a week of hiking trails and documenting rural village life. No phones, no email, no stress.

But that soon all changed wıth the reality-check airport experience.

Asia bound

Luckily we had a secret weapon: the ability to trust in the great Turkish hospitality.

A phone call to a Turkish family friend on the Asia side of the water and, one hour later, we were speeding through the crescent-moon Turkish night to a family house in the Umraniye district of the city.

The Ozgur family took us in, gave us dinner and a bed for the night on sofas in their lounge.

We were tired, slightly dazed and thousands of miles from our families, but suddenly we felt right at home. We watched the TV news the next morning wıth slack-jawed horror as the full gravity of the situation started to dawn on us.

Our next move was still unclear. Sit it out, or make a break for Spain?

Copyright Peter Mallet

Long way home

In the end we flew to Paris, slept in the airport and made a day-long odyssey via Lille, Calais and Dover back home.

But, unlike thousands of stranded others, Turkısh hospitality saved the day for us.

Being stuck was truly a Turkish delight.

And – hopefully – Hit the North resumes normal service next week.


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