Antwerp - Istanbulthe real end, part III

The following events in and around Istanbul in December 2019 were unforeseen, uninvited and they changed my view of travel in the 21st century forever. An equally big surprise, however, was an encounter with someone I had been avoiding for far too long: myself.

- by Ward Hulselmans

- Sunday 1 December & Monday 2 December 2019

In the middle of the night, the engines started and orders from the shore woke me up. In my cabin, the sheets had already been taken off the bed and I slept under the blankets. Nevertheless, it was pleasantly warm and the roar of the ship's engines sounded reassuring. A little later, the tugs came alongside. They increased their speed and the ship came loose from the quay with a jolt.

Where was Gemlik?

Seaman Francis, who was the watchman last night, had shrugged his shoulders at that question. He didn't know either: "Four to five hours sailing time" he had said, handing back my passport.

My map lay somewhere at the bottom of my bag against the table; I didn't feel like turning my luggage upside down and I didn't own a smartphone. Besides, what use was it to know where I was going? We would arrive in Gemlik anyway.After a few minutes, the tugboats cast off and our ship continued alone into the night, vaguely southwards through the Sea of Marmara. What a privilege not to know where I was going, unhindered by questions and even less by answers. I was at the mercy of fate, the course of things and the favour of nature.It gradually became clear that the events in Piraeus and the behaviour of the Turkish agent had not been misfortunes, but favourable omens.

Fate had arranged events so that I would now be lying here in this cabin.

So that I could feel - even if only for a moment - who I was, without such secondary things as my origin and age, my language or gender and whether I was human rather than animal.

"In the depths of my mind, I cherish my barbarity" say the Chechen monks in their monasteries on the Caucasian plateaus, searching for absolute simplicity. And so it was! In the belly of this ship I was weightless and timeless. I was breathing. I was somewhere. It was a blissful experience and I knew that I would carry this memory with me for the rest of my life. The lame Greek in Piraeus and the Turkish agent in Istanbul had suddenly become my best friends. Without them, I would never have experienced this. They had arranged it and I was barbarously happy about it.


- The real end1 December 2019

part 2

- the real end3 December 2019

part 4