A Road Trip Story: Everything You Can Imagine is True! Ibrahim Karagöz
We all have dreams. To travel in a country we live in or travel around the world. How many of us, however, make the dreams come true? How many of us at least believe that the dreams can be fulfilled. The system in which we live makes us slaves to what we have. It makes us believe that the more we work the more we earn and the more things we have, the happier we will be. That’s the reason that many of us in our dreams are stuck in the living rooms of our own houses. Not everybody, of course. Some of us show by their example that we can dream, desire and believe that dreams are real. Ibrahim is one of these people. I call him Chris (the protagonist in the film “Into the wild”). And here is his inspirational story.
Hi, Ibrahim. Could you please tell us about you?
Hi, I am Ibrahim. I quit my job to fulfill my dreams. I asked myself how I could resist the system we live in and feel unhappy, and started acting. I decided to travel the world, but wanted to start the journey from my native country. I traveled for eight months and now I have returned to my hometown in order to prepare for the travel around the world.
How did you decide to go on a trip?
It took me three-four months to make the decision. I wanted to start it immediately, but how? Where would I sleep? What would I drink and eat? Would I be able to do that without any financial savings? I have to confess that for some time I couldn’t sleep and was thinking about these questions all the time.
I worked as a barista in a coffee shop of a famous brand and I had a stable salary. However, I could hardly live by that salary by the end of the month, so I didn’t have any savings. I couldn’t ask for the financial support from my family. Even if I could, I would hardly succeed. My father is a pensioner and still works as a cook on a cargo ship. My family has an average income. But people say: “Where do you get money from?” “You have so much money, of course, you can travel” “He spends his father’s money”. I have heard such talks and still hear. Let me clarify everything right away – all this is false. Working as a barista, making Turkish coffee, latte was like art for me, but still something was missing. I wasn’t happy. I was tired of doing the same thing every day. Get up every morning, take a shower, brush your teeth, put on a clean suit, have a breakfast, spend an hour on a tiring journey in public transport, work by the end of the day, try to sell as much as you can. You have just an hour a day to take rest. When you have lunch or drink a cup of coffee, somebody else will make those decisions instead of you. Don’t forget to take permission even when you go to toilet. Don’t be mad, of course, you have rights. Come home, take a sleep and start the next day the same way. And all this system is made to reach one goal, that is to enrich your boss whom you have never seen in your life. I'm sorry, but that's our system. And is it really impossible to change that? Your answer is yes? I say “No”. Everything you dream about is real! When I thought about it, I spent my free time reading books, watching videos about people who travel all the time. They gave me inspiration. Previously, for example, I did not know anything about tent rest, hitchhiking. And in the end I realized that it was time to act. I needed a backpack, a sleeping bag, a tent, but there was no money to buy it. And due to the fact that I decided to quit on my own, I did not have the right to compensation. My friend Omer said that he could share with me the necessary equipment. It was one of the great news for me. I want to say thanks again to Omer for this. Thanks to him, I was ready to go. I wrote a letter of resignation, collected the bag and hit the road.
How did you start the journey?
As I already mentioned, the biggest problem for me was the money. When I started traveling I had just 180 lire. The people who surrounded me thought it was insane, and it was impossible to go on a trip with so much money. No one believed in me except a few people. Everyone tried to talk me out of it. But I had already made a decision and realized that I shouldn’t listen to anyone. I believed and decided to start it. People will always say something. On the fifth day of travel, I had no money and I was looking for ways to make money. I decided to make bracelets and sell them on the street. Last money I used to buy materials for bracelets. It all seemed like a game to me, but what if I couldn’t sell those bracelets? I watched a video on how to make bracelets and began selling them on the street. Thanks to good people, I was able to earn some money. Even if I could not sell anything, I would be happy just seeing the smile of passersby. So I began to earn in all the cities in which I stayed.
How did you get from one city to another?
For eight months I used hitchhiking. Sometimes I used public transport, but only to get to the place where it will be convenient to autostop. In addition, I did not use buses and airplanes. In general, hitchhiking is a kind of culture. For me it is not just a way to use transport for free. If you look at it only from this point of view, it loses its sense. Hitchhiking for me is to meet new people, listen to their life stories. And there are no rules. You can go anywhere just by stretching out your hand with your outstretched thumb.
Where have you been?
I have visited 52 cities during eight months, but I am not interested in numbers. It’s not important for me where I am and with whom. It’s important not to stop.
How do you solve the issue of accommodation?
For overnight stays, I used my tent and the Couchsurfing app. During the journey, I only once paid 20 lire in Edirne. Couchsurfing is probably the best application. Thanks to it I met many interesting people. In each city there was a house where they waited for me as a guest. I even met people whom I can now call my family. I went on a trip alone, but there were guys with whom I traveled for a while together, but I still prefer to travel alone.
Do you make plans before leaving for another city?
No, I don’t make long-term plans. I would say I don’t plan at all, because when I plan something, I feel clamped in a frame. When you don’t plan anything, you don’t know who you will meet, where you will live, and that is perfect. I usually leave in the morning and decide where to go on the way.
What do you do when you have already decided to go to this or that city and how do you start exploring the city?
Before leaving for a particular city, I learn some general information about it. Step by step. As I have no define goal, I don’t hurry. Sometimes I just want to walk, and then I just walk a mile after mile, without lifting a finger. If you want to know the local people better, you should visit the tea shops. Most of the tea shops visitors were either born in the city, or had lived there for many years. I have never been mistaken in that. There you will know the most accurate information about local people. The best guides can be found there. Of course, there will be rude people, but don’t care. Just smile them, and you will attract people with your positive energy. When I sell bracelets on the street, I get a completely different feeling if life. Yes, I like to earn money, but for me the smiles of people, their stories, their participation are the hugest motivation.
Which city did you like the most?
I can’t single out one particular city. There is something special and beautiful in every city. The culture, weather and food change every 100 km. But for me, the nature of the Black Sea is special. The city where I could live is Çanakkale. I don’t know why, but that city seemed to me unique. Of course, I still don’t feel tied to a particular place. I have travelled many cities and almost all the regions of Anatolia.
What do you think about Anatolia?
All the places I visited had wonderful nature and architectural structures, and the people there were friendly and hospitable. We live in a country with an incredibly rich culture. Wherever I was, I felt that.
What do you usually do when you are in a new city?
Visiting a new city doesn’t mean just having fun and travel. You get to know new people, their stories, meet new cultures that you have never heard of before and you realize that even a simple can make you happy. The life on the road makes you look at the world from a different angle. We should admit that there are people different from us. They have a different religion, another language, another nationality. And we must learn to accept these differences. The road that leads to the unknown is beautiful. To get lost in unfamiliar streets, watch the sun rise in one city, and at sunset - in another city. It all means trying to find yourself. When we get rid of the feeling of dependence on something, then happiness becomes inevitable. We know that, but we are afraid. We are always afraid of something and can’t get rid of the pressure of society. On average, we have 60-70 years to do something: work, marry, take a mortgage and pay for it throughout our life. It’s not pleasant to realize it, but we must get out of that vicious circle. We can do that, nothing is impossible.
What is the most difficult and the most pleasant for you on the road?
I told about pleasant moments above, but, of course, there are also difficult moments on the road. It is sometimes difficult to carry a backpack over a few kilometers on your back, or it rubs your shoes to such an extent that it is impossible to endure without tears. But for me this is also a kind of therapy, and the excitement that you will soon see a new place, overlaps everything bad. Sometimes I could fall asleep outside in the park, or in the mosque. Sometimes I was scared, but I never thought of giving up such a lifestyle. Because, going on a trip, I knew that I would have to face this. If you think about bad things all the time, the bad will haunt you. You need to save your energy and think about good things.
Could you please tell me about your future plans?
Of course, I want to travel around the world. Part of the money that I had earned on the street, I put aside to make a passport. Eight months later I returned to my native Mersin. Here I am trying to create new opportunities for work. I fully provide myself. I do not have a sponsor. Therefore, I need to purchase new equipment for work and stay here until I buy tickets. After I accumulate the required amount of savings, I will compile a route. And now I want to say to all readers: if you have a dream, do not postpone it, but go after it, okay? Perhaps no one will believe in you, they will say that it is impossible, they will instruct you and by all means try to dissuade you. Do not listen to them, do not believe them. Nothing is impossible. This is your life and it's never too late to start, there is still a chance. Never give up or postpone. Because right now is the time to do something!