30 June, 2010

Arhavi to Trabzon

Arhavi is a rather pleasant city. Population 16,000, it's packed neatly (like most eastern Karadeniz cities) into a few parallel streets on a narrow shelf of flat land. In the meydan (square) there's a broad paved area, with the mosque to its left and a cafe-gözlemeci to the right. Here i sat with my couchsurfing host and four of his friends.

In the square, dancers circled a tulum player. Later, the group broke up, and someone backed a station wagon up to the curb. From a massive speaker filling the trunk, recorded tulum wailed out - accompanied by a heavy electronic beat: Karadeniz folk music, 2010. The dancers regathered. They were mostly young people, late teens - and the group reminded me of my own community at the Bangor contradance. It's so good to see young people carrying on traditional forms, even as the music evolves!

Arhavi was spent regrouping and preparing for the next jump, which came all too soon. A thank you to Yener, who was a great host the night and the following day - and makes a mean sandwich with sucuk, pickles, carrots, and other things i'd never have imagined combining.

Main street in Arhavi. Erzurum has palm trees too...


A three hour bus ride to the west, Trabzon is the biggest city in this corner of Turkiye. Pity, i saw mostly the back of my eyelids: tucked into a tiny hotel room for a paltry fifteen lira i snatched a few hours of sleep before a morning flight to Istanbul.

There's a break in these posts as i welcome my 71-year old father to Turkiye for a week. Hopefully it is a chance to rediscover the wonder of a foreign place through another's eyes: in 71 years, he's never left North America. Then, in ten days i'll bid Turkiye fond farewell. I have a rule to include myself in these posts more as a narrator than a subject, a vehicle for readers to experience the place for themselves. So as i return to familiar territory, there will be fewer entries.