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I only met him for a few minutes. I was setting up my tent on a hillside just before the town of Ormanli. He was obviously on his way home from school, wearing a navy blue school uniform with a tie hanging loosely around his neck. He walked over to watch me set up my tent. He spoke a little English and I spoke a (very) little Turkish. He liked football and asked if we could play (we were camping in the middle of the soccer field after all). I said I could, knowing full well that I would be leaving in an hour to scout a new route for the next day. But I know how to say “OK” (Tamam) in Turkish and I don’t know how to say “ Sorry I’d love to play with you but I have to drive to our next campsite to check the route”. I figured some of the riders or other staf would be around to play later on. I finished setting up my tent and he waved goodbye, say again “play football?” “Tamam” I replied and waved goodbye “ Gule Gule” – go with smiles.
I returned to camp after scouting late that evening. Ricardo was still awake and we prepared the next days rider meeting together. As we finished he got up and said he had something for me. Returning from the van he held up and old blue soccer jersey with the name of a Black Sea football club on it. “A young boy brought this here this afternoon and said to give it to Paul” It was a touching gift from someone I had only me briefly. Another example of the friendliness and hospitality of Turkey.
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