Trabzon

I went directly from Italy to Trabzon (via Istanbul airport) – not to be a snob, but I went from worst dressed to best dressed in a matter of a few hours. When I arrived in Trabzon Cengiz and his friend Birol picked me up and for some odd reason we ended up at this open air tea place with live music and a bunch of people dancing and free popcorn. It was kind of a weird change after being in the sophisticated and tasteful Italy but it was also kind of fun.

The next day was a GORGEOUS fall day – you know when it’s that perfect temperature? We went up Cengiz’s family’s summer house where everyone was out working and collecting apples. I feel like in America when you go apple picking you get a ladder and carefully pick them off one at a time. In Trabzon you either get a big stick and poke the branches until they fall off onto the ground (at first into the cow manure, then they put a tarp down) or someone climbs up into the tree and shakes them off.

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There were kittens in the shed!

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It really was a gorgeous time of the year to be out there.

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We also visited a really big cave. Cengiz said it was the second biggest in the world but I definitely don’t believe that, but I will let him believe it.

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Like I said in the previous post, this was a religious holiday and they had sacrificed a cow, which unfortunately meant there was lots of fresh meat to eat. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it – I tried it and it’s just too strong for me. Luckily Cengiz’s brother is vegetarian so the idea of not liking meat wasn’t completely foreign. I was glad to have missed the sacrifice although I did find a random cow leg and hoof in the apple orchard…In the picture above we’re crammed into someone’s house which is in process of being built. It was on the top of a mountain and I would have loved to have seen it in the daytime, I bet it was a stunning location.

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I think it was pretty difficult for Cengiz at first – this is the first time he had gone home and his dad wasn’t there on the sofa, watching TV or talking to everyone. I think he really felt it because this holiday is a special one and it has been the same routine for so long, only this time there is a hole, an emptiness. We visited his father’s grave and the pile of dirt was still fresh, and seeing him and his family pat the grave and talk to him would bring tears to even the toughest person. It seems like his mother and sisters are doing okay, and people are visiting there pretty often to keep them company. It’s still hard though, and I don’t if going home will ever be the same for him.

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We went to go visit his uncle, like we did last time. He talks a lot but I don’t mind, the surroundings are so beautiful and he’s so entertaining to watch, even though I can’t understand him at all.

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This is one of my favorite pictures that I’ve ever taken. I love the background, and this tiny hunchbacked woman carrying a huge load on her back, and that crazy looking tool – this picture just exemplifies the tough lifestyle out there, but you can tell by her face she’s accepted it and this is just the way life is. I feel like the Trabzon lifestyle could become the new fitness craze – carrying tree stumps or vegetables on your back, walking the hills for hours, carrying metal pitchers filled with boiling water – all while eating natural food you have grown yourself. What do you think?

I was actually only there not even 2 days. I have to say, it was enough, I was getting hungry because I couldn’t eat any of the meat, and they use a ton of butter which they make themselves, which is a beautiful thing, but it has this strong taste I can’t get used to. There’s also this game we have to play where I know I am supposed to help out, but when I try, they insist I don’t (because I really don’t have to, but it’s good if I do) but I really don’t mind because I want to help and it makes me feel useful, and we have to argue about this in Turkish. It can be tiring. And when there are about 4 sisters lingering around, it’s a lot of insisting going on! His family is wonderful and I can’t complain, it’s just a very different lifestyle as you’ve probably caught on.

Next post – America and then Spain!

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