Ben meets Allah

Our arrival at the big mosque in Edirne has been a special moment. Peter has been touched because after more than 8 years he arrived again at the same place but now with his wife and son. He also felt happy to travel in islamic countries again. After 10 days of living in nature the sounds, colors and smells of islamic culture shocked Petra. We held each other for a short moment and stayed for some time to calm down.
Ben was asleep all the time till we cycled to a small supermarket. We took off his hat and immediately people started to kiss and touch him. There are not a lot of children as blond as he is in Turkey. Suddenly a car stopped in the middle of a turn. The driver kneeled down in front of Ben, kissed him, prayed (we only understood “Allah” which he said almost all the time), kissed him again and jumped back into his car. Certainly Ben was overwhelmed by this warm welcome and the first two days he felt uncomfortable that people touch and kiss him all the time. But by now he is used to it and just ignores them.

Lost in Bulgaria

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Back in Bulgaria we had some tough days of cycling. Our map of Bulgaria was not so good and after crossing the border from Macedonia we only knew that we had to do one pass but it didn’t show us how high it was. We have been surprised by 4 passes and 4443 altimeters in 4 days. After the mountains we had a few days of rain and cold. On the second rainy day we lost each other because Petra stopped to put on her rain jacket. Peter continued but took the wrong road while Petra took the right one. In the expection to overtake Peter soon again she cycled on. After some while she realized that something went wrong. She asked three men at a crossing if a cyclist had passed but they told her that they have seen Peter behind her. Some tears caused that one of the men drove back to look for Peter. He found him 6 km away heading back where he had come from (we have the agreement that if we would loose each other we would cycle back to where we saw each other for the last time and wait there) and told him to turn around. We were relieved to see each other again after one and a half hour of uncertainty.


After the rain a cold head wind started which lasted till İstanbul.


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Islamic countries are well known for their generosity and hospitality amongst cyclists. We experienced this generosity also in the Balkans. In Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey we got something each day, no exaggeration. Apples, pears, nuts, honey, juice, breakfast, bread, cookies, chocolate, candies, grapes, peanuts, tea, an orange safety jacket and so on. Ben is the main reason why we get so much. People love his blond hair, his blue eyes and his cute face. Even now, in a hostel in Istanbul, it became a habit for Ben and Ahmet, the owner of the hostel, to go together to the supermarket and buy chocolate for Ben every day.

We can’t deny it: our fears have increased
We are parents, responsible for another human being.

We could rent a house, lock the door against beings with wrong meanings
Instead we bought a tent which can be damaged very easily.

We could buy a car, travel safe within a bubble
Instead we cycle, are vulnerable between the trucks.

While traveling others use hotels and campings
We choose to wild camp, create safety ourselves.

We learn to recognize dangerous nature, animals and humans
Everyday again sharpen our senses and travel safe.

Ben is our miracle, we love him a lot
He trusts us completely a beautiful feeling to us.

Whenever he thinks there is danger and gets scared
He would run towards us and we have to pick him up.

We choose to travel like this, it enriches our lifes
Our way to teach Ben what is important to us, enjoying nature, respecting people and life

We can’t deny it: our fears have increased.
We are parents, responsible for another human being.

written by Petra on 21-09-2013

Main gate to Asia: Istanbul
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Cycling into Istanbul is a hell which most cyclist might know. Peter found a website which describes a different and more quiet route. ( We had no problems at all and didn’t get scared by heavy traffic.


We are now in Istanbul, Turkey. We cycled 2683 km in 45 cycling days and 6 resting days.


5 thoughts on “Ben meets Allah

  1. De herfst is nu echt begonnen in Nederland: heel veel regen vandaag!
    Lieve groeten voor jullie, en een voorspoedige voortzetting van jullie reis gewenst!

  2. One story is still missing. One evening with particular bad weather, heavy rain and 3 degrees we were quite warm and comfortable in the tent when Ben needed a shit. We really didn’t want to get out of the tent, so we got an empty plastic bag and let him poo in there. But then Petra needed to go as well, so while the bag was already there… And yes, a few minutes later Peter had to go too, so you can guess the outcome. We refer to this anecdote as ‘the family bag’ or in Dutch ‘gezinszak’.

  3. Dag Petra en Peter,

    Indrukwekkend. Ik hoop dat het voor jullie voorlopig niet te koud of te nat wordt. Jullie tuin is bijna leeg, op de palmkool en een bijna uitgeproduceerde courgette na. Het ga jullie goed!

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