a virgin

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In Persembe, there is a square with an Atatürk statue next to an old cannon. It looks as if the founder of the Republic is preparing to launch a cannonball at someone. Probably someone who is trying to mix politics with religion, I assume.

When I walk over to the waterfront, I arrive at a pier where some people are fishing. They are mostly men, and they mostly catch little fish with long snouts that look like miniature swordfish.

When I ask them about some white liquid that seems to be floating in the water, my translation app fails. Is it natural? I ask. Yes, they say. Is it… kücük balik (I’m trying to say “little fish”). Yes, they nod. This must be fish eggs.

“No,” says one old man in English: “it is not kücük balik. It is from another kind of creature. I forget the name.”


“Yes! Jellyfish.”

I stare at the white stuff in the water that I now suspect of being jellyfish sperm until the old man scratches his head and says: “well, maybe it’s just discharge from the fishing boats, who knows.”

During my two hours on the pier, I see a few dozen fish die. Only one time there is a splashing sound and a surprised “oh” from one of the men. He points at a little boy with a fishing rod, explaining that he has just thrown back his catch. The boy stands there, smiling with an air of embarrassment. I give him a thumbs up.

Then I go to a bar. Yes, Persembe has a bar. In fact, it has several of them. Along with Ordu, this place is known to be relatively liberal. One man explains that this is because “Feudalism doesn’t have a long history in this region”.

I tell some guys in the bar that I think Persembe is nice. I also tell them that I think it’s rather beneficial that the highway with its noise and its exhaust is far from here, because this way the area has been able to retain some of its coastal charm. The guys nod.

Does Persembe get a lot of tourism in the summer?

They shake their heads. “It is a natural virgin”, says one of them, and I fail to understand if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

We drink more beer.

central square in Persembe

pier in Persembe

sunset in Persembe

fishing man in Persembe

boy and man fishing in Persembe

men fishing in Persembe

bar in Persembe

man in bar in Persembe

  • Emre

    It was a literal translation. Bakir in Turkish has two meanings; one being virgin and the other untouched. So he meant the nature is quite untouched which is of course a good thing 🙂


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