Ep.6 "الحلم الذي تحقق" "After 50" (Subtitled) "A dream come true"
Just hit 50! What do I do now? Stop seeking my dreams? Spend the day at the grocery store? Try fixing old stuff scattered around in the backyard? Give the children a hard time? OF COURSE NOT! I can't believe am sweating in this cold place! But how did I get here in the first place? Let's see how it all started. I had just finished my tour in Turkey except for 1 event that was scheduled for a time yet to come. On the following day, it was time to fly to Tirana,then to Kosovo.
As soon as I reached Albania, something unexpected happened. A natural phenomenon that I had never experienced before struck Tirana, 38 kilometers from where I was. An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.4 left a lot of damage behind. My schedule got disrupted in both Albania and Kosovo and it was time to head back to Turkey to finish the last event.
I came to Istanbul with a dream. I had no idea how I was going to achieve it since rules and regulations were not in my favor. Special permits had to be issued and navigation in the Bosphorus had to be temporarily stopped, a matter that seemed impossible. But while I was thinking of a solution, I saw what seemed like a team swimming across the strait off the shore of Uskudar. I waited until the team got to shore and introduced myself as a Kuwaiti filming a show for Qatar TV. I told the team's captain, Fatih, that my dream was to cross the Bosphorus.
I was so happy to learn that the team swims from Asia to Europe every weekend, which was the following day. But for now, the team invited me to participate in an event, which was supposed to start in 10 minutes. I don’t remember being as exited as I was today and immediately joined the team that turned out to be Turkey's Long Distance Swimming Team. Am glad to meet you Fatih. Same here.
What's your name? Khalid. Usually long-distance swimmers are not bulky like this. This physique is good for sprinting. Thank God. The problem of not being able to issue the permits during the last 30 days was solved within minutes! Crossing the Bosphorus has many prerequisites, amongst which was swimming from Kandilli Iskelesi to Kiz Kulesi, which was the event that Fatih and the team invited me to.
The team usually crosses diagonally to take advantage of the currents that always flow from the Black Sea heading south to the Mediterranean. I was so excited to jump into the Bosphorus for the 1st time. There was no stairway to the canal, and the only way to get into the water was… I was surprised by the relatively low salinity ratio compared to the salinity of the Arabian Gulf.
Kiz Kulesi was our transit point, before we headed to the exit point, the shore of Uskudar. The coach asked everybody to go full speed during the last few meters. Even though I had memorized the names of the team members, I failed to give each person their correct name! It was a pleasure meeting you Ramazan. I'm not Ramazan, I'm Cemal. Oh sorry Cemal. Hello Ramazan. I'm not Ramazan, I'm Mesut. Oh sorry again. You must be Ramazan. Yes I am.
Even though we had no language in common, but we went along very well maybe because "Birds of a feather flock together!" I went to bed early that night because the crossing was going to start before sunrise from Kandilli Iskelesi. Every swimmer must put one of these on so vessels can spot us from a distance. The entry point is determined by the direction of the current and when the navigation traffic is as light as possible. And now, the moment of truth has come! The captain announced that it was time to cross after he made sure that the vessel was at a safe distance from the team. The distance we needed to swim was 1 kilometer in a depth of 110 meters and the water temperature was 13 degrees centigrade.
This was the first time I had seen a tanker from this angle and from such a close distance. I realized how insignificant I was compared to it. I experienced mixed feelings of awe, excitement and happiness while crossing and my dream was coming true. The Bosphorus is just a fascinating piece of art. It's so beautiful, calm and quiet here. We finally reached Bebek, our exit point.
The journey seemed like a fairytale derived from books I used to read when I was young. What an amazing experience! The cold temperatures and watching the sunrise added even more magnificence to it. Meanwhile, the aftershocks of Albania's earthquake had finished and it was safe to return to the Balkans.
So I returned to Kosovo to resume my journey that hadn’t even started. Even though the upcoming event seemed boring, I decided to do it anyway since I hadn’t done it before. Frankly speaking, I was surprised! You know whatguys? I don’t even know what I am about to do nor where am going. What an interesting game this is! After climbing a few meters, I entered a world of exceptional excitement, since it required planning and full concentration.
I have never plucked berries at such a height and such a place. Hum, not bad at all. Many animals won't make it up to here, so let me provide some help. Oh boy! Poor animals, the only thing they will get is some leaves. I keep forgetting about these carabiners each time! It's starting to get warm up here. The temperature down there is 6 or 7 degrees centigrade, yet am dripping with sweat! The problem is that I put everything I had on and now am stuck up here and can't get rid of my cloths.
I am thinking about taking my extra cloths off and throwing them, but they will end up in a sea somewhere. Mountain climbing requires fitness and flexibility. I never imagined that one could sweat in such cold temperatures. I liked mountain climbing. I thought it would be a silly boring activity. I didn’t realize that 1 hour had passed already and was surprised when the guide told me that it was time to climb down. While I was driving, I saw a giant swing. It reminded me of the small swings I used to ride in the 70's
and I couldn’t resist giving it a try. Hey guys over 50, don’t say we are too old for this! Come on, let's get a bit childish! When I reached this point, I honestly regret taking such a foolish decision, but it was too late and too embarrassing to yell, "Let me down!" What a great experience! It was so fun. You have to try it. You will feel weightless at a certain point.
After this exciting day, I needed to hide away in a calm place, where it was only the nature and I. At the beginning, I was surprised to see the flag of Albania here, but I later learned that 93% of Kosovans are in fact Albanians. The roar of the waterfall was too loud to be ignored, so I traced its source. Wow! What a fascinating piece of art this is.
This remote forest cleansed my mind and recharged me with energy, preparing me for my next journey.