Thursday, May 17, 2012


Well, I have done the crazy and hitch-hiked across Turkey. Well, not across the whole county, just the couple hours from Sarpi (the border) to Trabzon. But I should start at the beginning.

Donna and I, who have been in Poti since October, have been talking about going to Turkey since October. It is very close and it we decided to be very Georgian about it. Go to Trabzon and go shopping. We needed summer clothing desperately.
Donna had a Polish friend who had studied in Turkey and had hitch-hiked his way around the whole country of Turkey. He called it a hitch-hikers paradise. And it was that, when you put two girls with a guy who knows what he is doing and who speaks a common language with everyone we came across (no one spoke English). As in, this is not something I would readily do again, but turned out to be a good experience. The border on the other hand, was a crazy experience.

We took a marshutka from Batumi to Sarpi and walked into the station for passport control. We “left” Georgia and found ourselves in the no-mans land of space between Turkey and Georgia. Donna and I needed to buy Visas, but there was no obvious place to do that. We had to pass Turkish border control and go into the tunnel through the building to find where to get the visas, then go back and get the stuff stamped. Through it all, we had to dodge the trucks and cars going through the border. There were many people who were walking through border control and I felt very strongly that a separate path for pedestrians would be a smart thing, but alas.
We got out and walked a bit down the road. Michal, the Polish TLGer, told us that trucks are the best because there was a 50% chance they were going through Trabzon. We stuck out our thumbs, and a car actually stopped first. The man worked for a rental car system or something, but he wasn't going to Trabzon, so he let us out on the highway and went on his exit. A truck stopped for us and took us through to Trabzon and we went and stayed with a friend of Michal's, who is studying at the University.

 He took us around the campus, and ended the tour on these series of balconies that overlook the Trabzon Aristrip. It was really cool watching the planes take-off and land. The next day, we hit the Bazar and had a great time. I got the ankle socks I had been dying for (all I had were knee high black warm wonderful for winter socks) and in honor of the big soccer match that was coming up, got some in the colors of Trabzon. When we got back, we were introduced to a HUGE pastime in Turkey, at least among university students, gambling. Turkey is a Muslim country and gambling games such as cards or dice have been banned, but gambling on sporting events is still legal and very much engaged in. The intricacies of this type of gambling (or any serious gambling for that matter) were a little too much for me, so I settled on betting on the final score of the Chelsea/Liverpool match. I lost, but it was a lot of fun to watch the game with everyone. Almost every moment, something would happen to change how much money they would win or lose.
We all had school on monday, so Sunday morning, we got up to hitch-hike back to Sarpi. The first truck that picked us up had to load the truck somewhere else, so he let us off and another truck picked us up. He was also headed to Georgia (Final destination: Azerbaijan), but for some reason, had to stop somewhere else. We got to a town and he parked the truck and came out with us. Apparently, he did not like the thought of us hitchhiking, and was trying to find a bus for us to take. He was going to pay the fees. We finally convinced him that we were hitchhiking to meet people, not because we didn't have the money. We walked back along the way and this time a van picked us up with a turkish family headed to Batumi for the day. They took us to Sarpi and had to get in the line for the cars, while we got out to find the pedestrian passport control.
It was a very fun, but exhausting weekend.

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