Destinations: Istanbul, Ankara (Team Ninja)
Distance travelled: 737
IA and Yannic finally had gotten the email that their visa was being granted, Doro did not. Excitedly, the three of us went to the iranian consulate to pick up the visas. Unfortunately, Yannic was the only one actually receiving his visa. The consul told Doro that her application was incomplete, so she had to do it all over again. The address of the hotel in Tabriz was wrong, and she did not state an address of employment, even though she is unemployed. Really worse was IA’s case. The consul suddenly decided he would not give her the visa and ripped the paper right there in front of us. We were all shocked and outraged. How could he do this??? Well, he did. And talking to him did not change a thing. He would not give IA the visa and threw her out of the consulate. He kept saying that it’s his decision to make and there is nothing we could change. He was wrong, so very wrong 😀
Ia called the Korean embassy in Tibilisi and asked for help. The ambassador himself then came to Batumi to talk to the consul. Ia had to write a letter to apologize, for whatever – angering the consul? We don’t know! Anyway, after two days of discussions and rectifications, by Friday, Ia finally got her visa as well. Only Doro was left clueless, when to expect her visa responds.
The three decided to leave Georgia anyway and finally go to Turkey. Since we had a (M)eat-up planned for Sunday, and Jina has about to leave us, we had to go to Turkey right away. Doro would simply have to go back to Batumi later on to pick up the visa. Quite confident, we took a minibus to the border of Turkey, a 30 minute ride only. We headed to the border control, ready to start over in a new country. Our entrance was rejected. How unlucky can one (or three) be? Everything seemed to be going wrong! They told us, no foreigner was allowed to enter Turkey for three days, due to system failure. We couldn’t believe it. Back to Batumi – again! At least we had already changed the date for the (M)eat-up, so we would miss the event. But we feared not being able to see Jina again.
The next day, we went to the border again. And it was open, we went through, yay! But it was raining and it took a while to catch a ride from the border. Two friendly men took us to the next town where they dropped on the side of the highway. A truck stopped for us shortly after and took us to Trabzon. When he heard we wanted to arrive in Istanbul midday the next day, he took us to a bus station. So for the sake of the halloween party we were invited to, a new member arriving in the evening and seeing Jina again, we took an overnight bus to our destination – Istanbul
Meanwhile with Team Ninja… Nina and Jina made it to Istanbul a few days before us, with a short stop in Ankara. The two did not experience anything significant, other than amazing hosts and super friendly drivers. They were having fun times!
All of us finally came together again at Small Projects Istanbul, an NGO and community center in Fatih. The group of volunteers helps Syrian refugees in the area to rebuild their lives. Amongst others, the organisation provides educational programs and activities for any age. We arrived to a great party, with a lot of facial paint going on. A lot of kids were already colored, others still waited in line. All afternoon, we played with the children, did some crafts and got our faces painted as well. We all had a blast! Good start in Istanbul, especially with an amazing dinner, amongst volunteers, in an arabic restaurant. We like it here 😉