Sunday, October 12
Born in 63 B.C., Strabo is considered to be the worlds first geographer and though I am but one percent of the traveler he must have been, I feel honored to be standiıng in his hometown. It is a very picturesque place, the slow moving river overhung by the balconies of centuries-old wooden houses, overlooked by daunting rock-hewn tombs of Pontic kings. Thought to be 5000 years old, they now house furtive lovers seeking a hard won privacy. It is all very delightful and for the first time in many days I have arrived early enough to enjoy the sights.
Though driven here across a landscape not unlike the California coast,- richly verdant and perpetually wet- the kilometers traveled have exacted a price. Days begin at 6am and I do not reach my room until sundown at best. Buses can be crowded and slow, the conductors somewhat Fascist in their insistance that I remain in my assigned seat. Yesterday I had the great good fortune to be adopted by a toothless grandfather, who adopted and watched over me from the moment I had ticket in hand. He happily herded me to the gate, then packed himself next to me, crowding me into my corner, all the while smiling and patting my knee and rambling on about something, I could not say what. But his demeanor was friendly and I decided to just accept my place, knowing there will likely be more uncomfortable times than this as I continue East.
The land has been beautiful, sublime, and occasionally stunning, that first view as we drop out of the fog-drizzled mountains and the huge expanse of the Black Sea spreads before us, but I feel that what will set apart this portion of my journey are the chance encounters I am having with helpful strangers. Sometimes we have less than 20 words we can share, or as today, an extended conversation about world (American) affairs wıth young Ahmed, but it is the sense of belonging and that I am welcome that marks these days as special. I have seen precious few tourist since leavıng Istanbul, as I would wish. It is this state of pleasant unknowingness that leads me to admire a man such as Strabo, and to seek in some small way, to follow his footsteps.