What a Welcome!
In the name of Allah the most high.
This morning I was woken up by my co-driver just a little gone 6:30am for fajr (dawn prayer), and alhumdulillah it wasn’t too cold. There were rumours that it was going to snow last night, which wasn’t the case, in fact it was suprisingly mild in the morning in relation to what we have woken up to. After prayer we had a briefing by the organisers where he informed us of the various issues we may face pertaining to the border crossing into Turkey.
We were also informed about an accident that took place on route from Thessaloniki where one vehicle was involved in an accident with a local 20 tonne cement mixer truck. Alhumdulilllah it wasn’t the fault of the convoy member, as the local truck drove straight into the rear of the viva palestina van. The damage was soo bad, according to Imran, a convoy member from Bradford who saw it all happen, he stated “the impact was soo great that the engine was damaged despite the vehicle being hit from the back.” The vehicle is more than likely to be a write off, although the damage doesn’t look that extensive from the pic’s. I was also told that the body was damaged down the whole side of the vehicle as the metal has over stretched from the impact, hence it being a write off. I am not too sure if it’s that clear in the pic [coming soon], but the rear doors of the van were pushed in 2 feet.
The local greek driver accepted full responsibility for the acccident and provided the necessary details for the insurance companies to process the claim. The accident was caused by the driver driving too close and not allowing enough breaking distance, which is something that we have to be cautious about, sometimes you can easily forget that your driving a van.
After the briefing we set out for our destination, Turkey, which was only a half hour journey where we parked up and provided all the documents for the vehicles. Alhumdulillah, it went smoothly and there were no complications, and upon entering through the gates of the border we were met by a large crowd. The local Turks who met us were chanting in large groups, “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the greatest), with Anasheed playing in the background. The Cameras were rolling and photographers were taking pictures as the convoy passed in jubilation vehicle by vehicle.
We were welcomed by various organisations who support the Palestinian cause, as they handed out fruits, flags and T-shirts. We even passed a few old ladies who waved us on whilst trying their hardest to contain their tears.
Once we had passed the border, we pulled up on the side to ensure that the whole convoy had made it through. It was a long wait in the cold, in fact it was freezing, the change in temperature was drastic although we were only 50ish kM down the road.
The plan for the day was to make our way to Istanbul, which is about 2 hours from the border, where we would stay in a sports hall. We do not really have anything planned for the day, so the evening is more or less ours, it’s a good chance to get some clothes washed, visit the hamam, roam around the city and grab a bite to eat.
(Please note the following was written at the end of the day and the previous section was an update on-route)
I have finally managed to get an opportunity to come online after a long journey to Istanbul. As you’re all aware it can be very hard finding an internet connection, but today I have been fortunate, by the will of God, as the place we are staying at has a wireless connection. The journey to Istanbul has been very slow as we hit Istanbul at rush hour which proved to be painfully slow especially moving in a large convoy. We did have police escorting us, but to be truthful it just makes the pace of the journey soo slow. The distance we travelled today was not that great, but it just took so long.
From the moment we left Greece in the morning, we did not stop for food and ended up eating biscuits, crisps and anything that is digestable in the van. Upon arrival in Istanbul we were served a three course meal in a nice fancy hall which was followed by a few short speaches by the mayor and a few other organisations including some Orthodox Jews against Zionism. Alhumdulillah the food was really nice and made up for the long wait. After our meal we were then taken to a sports hall where we prayed and settled for the night.
Sorry about the abrupt ending, my eyes are about to close.
Wa Asalamu Alaykum wr wb