A different way of life
Unye Travel Blog› entry 77 of 86 › view all entries
Slowly we seem to be getting under Turkeys skin. Were communicating in german, english and french mixed with some very broken turkish and helped by a big piece of paper full of turkish words. The Turks are not only a treat to travel amongst because of their good food but also because of their story telling: we generally don't get asked about money and we don't get asked about our trip -If we do we always lie anyway and make up close destinations. At the moment the journey is Trabzon to İstanbul. The whole world bike ride thing tends breaks any chance of a normal conversation. But the turks like to tell their history and that of their country. They like their tea and they always have time for another one just to finish their tale...
As we rode along the black sea coast for 400 km we stopped and swam every day.
The coast line itself is modern, but modern without being westernized. The mingle of the middle eastern, Georgian and ancient Persian cultures persists amongst flash highrises and a brand new motorway. Ancient Georgian churches stand beautifully cared for, amongst new and old mosques. The Turks don't have to go to the Mosques but most do. İt's a moderate place and they are proud of that. Just as there proud of their old christian churches.
On the beach itself families piknik and relax. İt could look western but there are subtle differences: Whilst Women, like women all over the world, sit engrossed in conversations, watching over splashing children, the men often have their talks whilst holding hands or even sitting arm in arm and just like old and young married couples do here.
On the road side beach goers must balance along hazel nuts that are led out to dry on almost any available area of tarmac -even bus sheads are surrounded, with only a small trail leading from the bench to the road-. Because inspite of the beautifull coast line money is made from hazel nuts and tea. Hotels can be hard to find and no one's 'sold out' to convert the family room into an arcade or a bar and the Hazel nut orchards to a golf course.
Along with the old tea and hazel nut buisness 'bazaar life' is ripe. Super market chains seem unable to compete and most of the men own private buisnesses. So instead of picking a polished tomatoe from a line of other syncronized tomatoes we have to choose between lines of veg sellers to be found behind lines of tuppaware sellers, DIY sellers etc etc. Shopping takes time and patience. sometimes it also takes tough enough skin to point out that a kilo of cucumbers should be 1 lira instead of 7 and not let the following huffing and puffing make you feel like your evil.
But there is more to this bazaar life: The small private shop, the 'living village': it creates and the meaningfull job in a meaningfull environment. Not shelf stacking at Tescoe's because it outpriced all the small shops! Most people are independent or work in family owned shops. They drink a cup of tea with us when they want or play a game of domino in the shade. Non-smokers need not complain that smokers get more breaks.
Ishmet, a 72 year old man, we met in a coastal city told us over many cups of tea how he retired from the post, took a year out to photograph and then decided to sell socks. He started with a bag on the square, then added a table and eventually another one. Then he bought the shop. Through this he supported himself and his best and most beloved companion: A late born son, with severe disabilities who has now passed away. The shop is full of photos and each has a story of its own.
But Ishmets story, all the street trades we see, all their stories and all the babushkas selling pipas in Georgia, the constant creation of small independent economies and social networks... The independent ways to survive we see all the time in states that don't help enough, makes me feel so critical towards our own rigid system. There are so many alternative ways to make money, to create meaningfull jobs, to create positive lives! But to be a street trader in the UK is not easy. Locals feel threatened immedieately, fights start over what land is whos, who may or may not trade there and the police creates impossilpe licenses and confiscates goods. What? Don't work, don't create a meaningfull job? Go on the dole, go sign on once a week? Just because we have welfare money, shurely it shouldn't mean people can't create their own way. İ believe in the socialist economy, taxes to the government and a government that ideally cares about its citizens. But still.. im shure we've missed an important point. İs our system not chooking good attempts? Trapping people in bad welfare deals that prohibit work and only serve to isolate and belittle people...