Before Twenty Years on the Way – Muhammet Sami Bayram

The first student article on the blog is by Sami Bayram (1st year in TEMA studying now in Budapest). In this story, which seems like a mix of Gonzo journalism and Beat generation road tripping, he recounts one of his experiences during his time in Spain. Let us (and him) know what you think!

Before TWENTY YEARS on the WAY – A story of an Andalusian journey

Muhammet Sami Bayram, 21st August 2013

It was five in the morning.

A slight numbness on me, my tired body hungover from midnight and my soul awakening with the wind coming through the window range. It’s the sunrise of the 12th of August in Catalunya at Carrer Del Carme. The city’s historic buildings, remaining from the 18th century. The smell of wood which I couldn’t resist, extending intensively to my nose with every bit of daylight.  The birth of a warm Tuesday, there is a few Spanish newspapers from last night on my desk that I tried to translate, some letters I have received from my friends, a few museum tickets, news tab remains open on my computer and in the other tab …   God!!  I remember everything abruptly… the time is 05.30!! We had agreed at midnight on a Valencia trip with a Polish guy, to be on Catalunya Square in 20 minutes, totally forgot it. His name is Piotr. He had wanted to go south, and he was looking for a friend to accompany him. However, time is running out, immediately I cut the toothpaste to get the last remaining paste from inside and moved to toothbrush, bottom and corner as usual. Sandwiches ready, prepared from last night. My phone rang, it was Piotr, he was speaking Spanish with Polish words mixed in, there is a lot of consonants, but at last I understand, Piotr said ; “Donde estas Sami?” and I said that I’m coming in ten minutes, packed my bags immediately and left the house.

I’m walking on the street to the meeting place. The day leaves itself to new day as a foetus essence. When I arrive to the square I was trying to call Piotr, suddenly I see the chubby and blond man who is waving to me from across the street. He looked like a classical Polish guy and seemed quite cheerful. We just shook hands and he showed me his car with obvious pride. Actually it’s not like a car, this old Ford (estimated 1985 Model), a green and long-suffering van. There were two Argentinian and one Chilean passenger in the van. They were sitting in the back, and I sat behind the driver’s seat.  At first, my attention was drawn to a broken radio, plastic water bottles, a few empty cigarette packs, and old European maps on the seat gaps, as well as an interesting photograph which is on the rear-view mirror, similar to houses in the south of Polish villages.

Our Journey had begun. We are going to the South. Sun entering into my eyelids and deprives me from my sleep. After a few seconds I started to talk with these Latin American guys. They had an anthropology Student who come from Argentina and they said they are going to the south for a research. After that I started to wonder and asked “Why would an Argentinian want to go to the south of Spain, to Seville?” He looked out from the window and said that “I’m not going to Seville, going to Andalusia”. He smiled and I responded in kind.  The journey promises to be enjoyable and I started to eat my sandwiches but I have lots of wonder about the journey of these Argentinian students.  At the time I took a second bite from my sandwiches he said from the behind of the car: “Actually not Argentinian, we are Mestizosand we are going to find something that belongs to us from the past.” I don’t want to eat anymore; I just put the sandwich in my hand in my bag. After a while I started to talk with the Chilean, who has slim body and brown hair. His name is Alias, and he going to Cádiz. He is working for a magazine company in his country, related to photography. The wind entering from the window range and waves his hairs and seems to be sleepless. Piotr had driving the van very controlled, and had tried to play some music at low volume; on the other hand he was listening to us. After this effort he was able to open. It was “Veinte Anos” from Buena Vista Social Club. When the music was over, we stopped in the gas station 1-2 km away from Tortosa. Here it’s like an abandoned place, not so many people around, and the colour of the clay station tells us that we are on the right track. We sat around the seeming clay-stone table. Coffees in our hands.  When I was rolling to my less tobacco in my packet Piotr asked me “may I smoke?” Why not. While he was drinking coffee, the youngest Argentinian asked a question to Piotr: “Why are you going to the south?” Piotr just continued to smoke, and while blowing smoke to all,  he just said “Why are you going? … so I’m going with same cause”.

After he finished the cigarette he said that we have to continue.

This time I decided to sit in the front of the car, near to Piotr. We have just two hours of way. He again put the music of “Veinte Anos” (Twenty Years).  Twenty Years, what was the meaning of these words. Was the van twenty years of age? No! It looked like 50 years old; there is an old house on the mirror; why is he carrying us for free? But what was the relation with this? Okay. I couldn’t resist and after a while I asked him “Piotr, where are you going exactly, and what is the mystery of this House?” Piotr: “Have you ever been in a House?…”  he spoke slowly while swallowing, and continued: “…when martial law was declared in your Country and  while your woman waiting for you, for twenty years you couldn’t go?”

The song of “Veinte Anos” was over. He didn’t play other music, and only left the wind howling and this old engine’s noise. Silence everywhere, I could hear chills in the empty beer bottles better now.  Piotr didn’t just drive a car, he was driving the car to the chaotic history of his Country. He was one of the men who seek to hope as in Kieslowkis’ films. Argentinians had come here to find their part of past. Alias… and the name of Alias comes from Arabic semantic roots. Al-yas – Ilyas, he was Arab. During the Spanish Civil War, his grandfather had emigrated to Chile, like the people who exposed the emigrate four hundred years ago, from the same place to Latin America. Perhaps his family’s problem has been closed in this area, but Alias had lots of questions.

This old car going on the road with people who have different experiences and past, the same sound waves come to the same point at the end, although we go to different ways.  We are the drunk people on the way who like seeking eternal existence with all transcendental value.

We were the people who trying to reach something, to somewhere, to someone.

At last we came to Valencia, and just I got out from the van, they will continue, and I embrace everyone. I put on my backpack.

When I turn my back and try to go, Piotr shouted this to me:

“Hey, young man!”

“Why didn’t you tell us your story, why are you here?”

I said:

“Maybe one day I’ll carry some people myself”

(Previously published on


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