Most of the travel books and sites make a
big deal warning you to be very careful while driving in Turkey.
(Frankly, it seems to me that one should be very careful no matter
where in the world you’re driving seeing as I’ve never
really understood why more people don’t all meet their early
demise hurtling around in these metal boxes, but that’s
a topic for another time.) So, as advised, we were being careful.
And yes, Turkish drivers are somewhat reckless, especially when
it comes to passing on curves and hills. And driving in the cities
is a bit harrowing, but in general, it didn’t seem all that
bad. Especially out on the empty highways where 99.9% of the things
we're passing are mountains (and they happen to be set back from
the road quite a bit).
the view out
the car window
We’re on the way to Konya (from the coast).
Highway speed limits are either 90 km/hr or 120 km/hr, depending
on what kind of highway it is (unless, of course, otherwise posted).
We don’t know what kind of highway it is, so after a few
hours of compromising at slightly over 100 km/hr, I decided that
pushing it to 120 would probably be fine. After all, there really
were so few other vehicles out here that it didn’t seem
to matter much. Oops.
We rounded a corner, slowing down for what
looked like a small town and saw a policeman flagging us down.
We pulled over. He asked for our papers, which we produced, along
with my California Drivers License and my International Driving
Permit (it costs about $10 to get one of these through AAA, and
while most people say you don’t need one, we figured it
was probably worth the $10). The policeman did not speak English
so a long, confusing conversation took place (we seem to be having
a lot of these in Turkey). Eventually, we started to grasp that
he was trying to give us a speeding ticket. Apparently, the speed
limit was 90, and he had caught us on radar. I tried playing dumb
and apologizing and saying that I thought it was 120 and I wouldn’t
do it again, but the effectiveness of all these ploys were greatly
reduced (or completely negated) by the fact that he had no idea
what I was saying. Nonetheless, I figured if he didn’t understand
us, it was still possible to get away unscathed by pretending
that we simply didn’t understand that he was trying to give
us a ticket.
our gift banana
with speeding ticket
Our conversation was then interrupted by his
partner who began yelling something from the police car. I figured
that the second officer had lost patience with our charade and
was planning on just giving in, but before I could do that, our
officer ran out to the road, waited for a bit, and flagged down
the next car. Two out of two – pretty good. Two Turkish
guys got out of the second car. The driver seemed annoyed, but
resigned to his fate. The passenger, however, immediately struck
up a friendly conversation with one of the officers. He spoke
some English, and while this sabotaged any hope we had of playing
dumb, we could hardly blame him. In the next 15 minutes, he accomplished
all of the following: 1) explained to us that we were being given
a speeding ticket, 2) wandered over to the radar device in the
police car and chatted with the second officer about it for a
while, poking at the buttons and looking at the display like any
self-respecting, gadget-interested grown man would do, 3) gave
bananas to anyone who was interested, including us and the two
policeman. To him, this was simply a social event that happened
to transpire on his journey from point A to point B.
In the end, we drove off with our speeding
ticket, but not until we had all shaken hands and smiled and said
goodbye. Somehow, we had been made to feel that this had all been
a good thing and we should be happy about it. Hmm. No wonder the
Turkish are considered good negotiators.