I wake up in the darkness. It’s night outside, the wind howls, and I can hear the call to prayer. But it’s not just one. There seem to be at least two or three mosques in the vicinity, and their prayer calls are overlapping. All of them are calling for god, and they all end up sounding like ghosts. I go back to sleep.
When I have breakfast with Emine and Hasan, the Georgians who have taken me in for the night, I realize that they don’t seem to have a lot in common with the people I’ve met in Georgia. They, and the other people I’ve talked to in this village, seem to be more like Turks who also speak Georgian. They don’t really eat Georgian food, they have never been to Georgia, and even their names are Turkish.
Either way, Emine and Hasan are very nice. They live quietly in a big house, and their best days are when they have guests over. The grandkids come on the weekends. They all live in the city, but Emine and Hasan prefer to stay here, in the tranquility of their village.
After leaving them I walk on dirt roads for a while, then I fall back into the highway like an autumn leaf into a river. The road takes me to Ünye. On the way there it gets so cold that I have to wear my sweater under my windbreaker, and I still feel a bit chilly. It rains, and the Black Sea is tumultuous.
Then there’s a bike lane. It doesn’t really have an on-ramp, but it’s nice, and there is a guardrail protecting it from the road. So I walk on the bike lane for a while, and I am quite happy with it until there is a bridge with a lamp post blocking the way.
Whoever was responsible for this must have never touched a bicycle in their lives.
Ünye itself is nice, though. It has a long beach promenade, and there are lots of friendly street dogs who are constantly trying to bone each other on the sidewalks. One of them takes a dump and then does something unexpected: he sits down in the grass and slides around on his butt as if he was trying to wipe it clean. Some people laugh, and one man tells me: “our dogs are smart.”
Great, I think. Maybe one of them should have designed the bike lane.