I have arrived at the Black Sea! After pedaling more than 700 km, I can begin my coastal route to Georgia. The last few days through the interior were tough!! During the day I struggled with the intense heat and steep passes and at night was molested by mosquitos, biting flies and ants. At such times keeping a good attitude was mandatory for my wellbeing, and often I thought about the stories of a Buddhist Monk in California. The monk had previously lived in Thailand and every morning he would walk barefoot receiving alms from the community. On cold rainy days he told me that if he thought about all the hardships and suffering he would encounter, walking barefoot in the cold, he would never have the strength to get food. So what he did was take things one breath (step) at a time and when he didn’t think about what was going to happen next everything was possible.
The last few days have offered very little in terms of a break from the road. When I am pedaling I am on its shoulders when I am resting I am at its side, when I am sleeping it’s in my ear.
The Black Coast is a lot different from what I imagined. On the road to city of Samsun, I was over whelmed by billboards advertising surfing, scuba diving and water skiing but when I arrived the ocean was murky and all the beaches beside the large port. I pedaled on only to discover that the coastline would change very little, being very industrial and offering very little in terms of areas to swim. Since leaving Istanbul, Turkey has been the only country so far that I have had to get by solely on Turkish. Strangers claim to speak English but after a few words I realize that my Turkish is better (I speak very poorly).
My appearance has become quite disheveled, all the dirt, sweat and wild camping has laid its mark on my appearance. So much so that when I arrived in Samsun and asked for directions a nice man gave me a new shirt and offered to buy me food. A few hours later I stopped for tea near a local Mosque and almost got into a violent confrontation with a fasting Turkish man. I was sipping tea and enjoying my own company, when a man started yelling (to get my attention) from the other side of the room. I ignored him and then he threw down his glass and walked over to my table. He started yelling Turkish obscenities and tried to tell me that he was “a Taliban terrorist” and that he was going to give me trouble if I didn’t leave. I continued to drink my tea and was unreactive; I could smell his fasting breath and his eyes had the look of deep hatred. What did I do to invoke this behavior, he must need some sort of avenue to release his suffering, and think that I am as ignorant as I look.
I knew that if I stood up I would have to fight, if I left he would win ( and be proud of his actions), so… I continued to drink my tea and let him continue being a fool. It is ignorant people like this that give Islam a bad name. How can a man who reads the Koran, calling himself Muslim, treat human beings this way. He is not Muslim; he is a poor excuse for a human being that cannot even comprehend the knowledge of religious teachings. It makes me feel bad that he is giving a bag label to such an honorable faith. I finished my tea and pedaled on.
I am approximately 400 kilometers from the Georgian border, with still no Azerbaijan visa my thoughts drift toward Mt. Ararat near the Armenian border. Right now, though all I really need is some time to collect myself near the sea.