We set out heading east from Istanbul along the Black Sea coast with Elif’s mom Dilek and her judge boyfriend Co?. Co? is married, but his wife is refusing the divorce out of spite, since Co? has been dating Dilek for two years. In Turkey, if the woman refuses the divorce, it won’t be granted until three years of separation – during which time adultery is an imprisonable offense. So the first few days, near Istanbul, we’re hiding from places where Co? might be recognized. After we get further east, we should be fine; our plan after that will be to head South along the Georgian, Armenian, and Iranian borders before heading back west.
After Lake Abant at Bolu, we reached the town of Old Safranbolu, a town whose houses date from Ottoman times and where it’s illegal to build new ones; some are wonderfully dilapidated, some such as the Kaymakamlar Evi (Governor’s house) have been restored. I loved the beautiful marble 17th century Cinci Hamam Ottoman baths and walked through all of its chambers on clogs as men were taking their baths, although it was too scalding for us to stay. We bought a tub of blackberries from some kids on the side of the road, and I ate the whole thing – spectacular, Edenic fruit. We stayed in Amasra, a town on two bays with a Byzantine-Genoese castle which had a huge neon Ataturk head that lit up at night.
The next day was a hard slog of driving, averaging about 40km/hour until Ayanc?k. We stayed at the Black Sea harbor town of Sinop, which had the typical scene of Turkish families with their kids walking on the strip, eating sticky gummy Mara? ice cream, with music blasting from the gazinos straight into our hotel rooms until midnight. On Thursday the 20th, we saw Sinop’s Alaeddin Camii, a mid-13th century Selçuk mosque that has a Spanish-Moorish-looking courtyard, as well as the Alaiye Medressi religious school. Heading east, the whole way we drove past hazelnuts which villagers were drying by the side of the road.
We then reached Samsun, a nightmarish, disgusting Black Sea city. Suddenly, Co?kun dumped us on a street corner and announced that he was going to stop by the army base there to visit his son who was serving his mandatory 18 months. Co?’s son hates him because he’s divorcing his mother, and Co? hoped he could affect a reconciliation. This proved to be a failure, for Co? reappeared at the corner and hour and a half later with the news that his son had refused to see him. The entire time Co? was gone, Dilek complained mightily about having been dumped at a street corner rather than at a museum or something, and we were sure that when Co? returned he’d get what he deserved, but Dilek proved to be a paper tiger. She told him that that the corner where we were dumped stank of petrol, and Co? merely replied, “You didn’t come from a village, you know what cities smell like.” But then Dilek felt sorry for him because his son wouldn’t see him, and she fed him cookies which were in the car.
Later that day at the town of Ünye, Elif announced she wanted to see her father’s uncle’s widow. The last time Dilek saw the woman, Dilek was pregnant carrying Elif. She was delighted by the surprise visit and was super-nice, stuffing us with food. That evening, we ate in an amazing lokanta in Vakf?kebir.
We stayed at the “Besst Hotel” in Be?ikdüzü outside of Trabzon. There we saw our first natasha – Russian whore. She was stunning – tall, thin, skimpily dressed with high heels and bright red makeup. I totally would’ve gone for her.