Our tour of the mountains in the northeast of Turkey had sixteen participants. We came in pairs. Four pairs were of married couples; two were mother-daughter; one was of sisters; one was of old friends from high school. The married couples were opposite-sex (there is no gay marriage in Turkey, where even pride marches are not generally permitted). The only men on the tour were with their wives. Two persons were foreigners married to Turks also present; two were Turks living in the Netherlands and married to each other.

Macahel Valley, Sunday evening

Sixteen, eight, four, two: the various numbers of persons were powers of two. Each of us was an individual, and one is a power of every number. But some numbers are not well defined. How many of us were extroverted, how many introverted? There were some of each kind, I suppose; but we were generally a jolly friendly group, and this was half the joy of the whole trip. The other half, of course, was the forests, the waterfalls, the mountain pastures or plateaus called yayla, used traditionally in transhumance: places that made me say, as I did once, at the edge of a deep valley, further west along the Black Sea coast, in Kastamonu: Elhamdülillah kır çocuğuyum—Thank God I’m a country boy.

Base of Mençuna Şelalesi, Sunday

Our van had seats for the sixteen of us, in addition to the driver’s seat. This was filled capably by Mohammed. On the many hairpin turns on rocky mountain roads, where a slip over the edge would probably mean death, he never gave us cause for alarm. Our guide, Mustafa, sat facing backwards on a portable bench by the sliding door. One day a second guide, Furkan, had to squeeze in next to him. Most of our luggage fit behind the last row of seats, but some had to go between Mustafa and the front passenger: she was generally our eldest, Necla, mother of Merve.

Off to Gorgit Yaylası, Monday

I seem to have been the second-eldest. Ayşe had arranged our participation in the tour through a company called Deep Nature; but the tour was really operated by a firm called Bukla. On the Deep Nature website, we had seen both (1) a warning not to bring too much stuff, and (2) advice to bring gear such as rain poncho, gaiters, and proper hiking boots. There was no recommendation of hiking staffs, as there apparently was on the Bukla site. Staffs would have been useful, and most others had them: lightweight collapsible numbers from a firm such as Quechua. I kicked myself for not having toted the one I had, made from oak in Texas.

Maral Şelalesi, Tuesday

The Bukla Eastern Black Sea Yayla Tour normally proceeds west to east, from Trabzon through Rize to Artvin. One then has the option of flying home from Hopa, the last town on the coast. Turkish Airlines would actually take you by bus to the airport of Batumi in Georgia; but the flight would be treated as domestic. In the event, we could not take this option, because the tour was reversed.

Thus Mohammad drove us all from Trabzon to Hopa on the first day, Sunday, July 22, 2018. I am happy about this. It means we spent our first night on tour in an isolated valley, reachable only by a mile-high pass (1860 meters, according to the sign). Surely, I thought, one could access the valley by the route that excess rainwater used to reach the sea; but perhaps the opening was too narrow, or lay in Georgia. Furkan would explain that the border with Georgia had been determined in part by referendum. Some villagers moved, to be on the preferred side of the new border; but the border was also adjusted to accommodate one old woman, who did not want to leave behind the graves of her ancestors. Georgians today wonder where Furkan learned his Georgian, since he uses archaic words, but not words borrowed from Russian in Soviet times.

We did not meet Furkan till Tuesday, July 24, when we were leaving the Macahel Valley. On the previous Friday evening, Ayşe and I had caught a bus from Istanbul to Trabzon. Scheduled for about sixteen hours, it took more than eighteen, for three reasons: (1) busses from Europe to Asia must make a detour, in order to use the new, third Bosphorus bridge, paying tolls to compensate the contractor that built the bridge; (2) we made unscheduled stops for passengers in Gebze and İzmit, in the province next to Istanbul; (3) an accident on the coastal highway, Saturday morning, held us up for half an hour as three lanes squeezed into one (we saw a jack-knifed truck as we passed, but any ambulance was long gone).

Sal Yaylası, Wednesday

Another married couple on our tour also took the bus from Istanbul. At the end of the tour, İpek and Yakup flew home. Everybody else flew both ways, except two who were not leaving the area. Ayşe and I didn’t fly, out of some combination of dilatoriness and parsimony, along with the actual preference of one of us. I don’t mind flying that much, but it can be unnerving. Seats on a bus are roomier, the windows are bigger, the ground is closer, and tedious precautions in the name of security are non-existent.

Pipilona [?] Yaylası, Thursday

One does have the tedium of sitting for hour after hour. If one is not looking out the window, or trying to sleep, one can read. I had brought the Aeneid for this. Though Virgil imitated Homer, this very fact made his work completely different from the Odyssey and Iliad. Virgil knows that nobody is really the son of Venus: the origin of Aeneas is just a story, as Virgil is well aware. At least this was my sense.

Avusor Yaylası, Friday

Riding home westward more than a week later, on Sunday morning, July 29, from a tweet by Mary Beard (whose book SPQR I had also brought along, although I didn’t end up reading it), I would discover an article about the use of classics in heavy metal music. There I read that not one, but two Italian metal bands in 2013 had released concept albums based on the Aeneid. This made sense. The Aeneid itself was a concept album, creating something grandiose, if not bombastic, out of the classics of its own time, while missing their point. In Book V of the Aeneid, when Juno beguiles the Trojan women into burning the ships, Aeneas prays to Jove for salvation. The skies darken, and driving rains quench the flames. In the Iliad, gods ignore prayers.

Zilkale, Saturday, June 28

On the ride east on Saturday morning, June 21, through another tweet, I read an article by Jordan Ellenberg (doctoral advisor of one of my undergraduate students in Ankara), comparing mathematics to mountain-climbing. On our tour, we did not climb with ropes; but if we hiked uphill, then my drive was activated, either to be first, or just to reach the goal.

Thus on Friday morning, July 27, when we were to hike up a treeless valley, Avusor Yaylası, to a lake ringed with remnants of winter snows, I passed the members of another group one by one. The first person I met was resting, and asked me to tell the others she was turning back. The last one said my kondisyon was good.

Goats and herder, Avusor Yaylası, Friday

I checked my watch when I reached the lake. Liz and Murat came thirteen minutes later, and nobody else for that long again. I had half an hour to sit on a rock, gazing at the slopes around, or reading about the Gothic from a selection of John Ruskin’s work (in the Penguin Great Ideas series) called On Art and Life. The Gothic is not pointed arches and flying buttresses, but a recognition, “in small things as well as great,” of “the individual value of every soul,” particularly the soul of the worker.

I cooled off, even feeling glad when fog started rolling up from the valley, damping the fire of the sun. Ultimately I joined Murat and Liz by the lakeside, and I preceded Murat into the icy water. Liz got in later, as did a few others, though a minority of the group. Deniz from Rotterdam—her name means sea—she was the boldest: she swam out to an island, where she sat a while, Buddha-style.

Before lunch, Friday

That was Friday. For the previous Saturday night in Trabzon, Ayşe had arranged for us to stay in the guest house of Karadeniz Teknik Üniversitesi. On Sunday morning at breakfast, we understood that the facility was being used by participants in an international conference; but we did not learn what it was about. At least there had not been carousing in the night that we knew of.

En route to Gorgit, Monday

After checking into our room on Saturday, we caught a dolmuş to the city center. This was crowded, but a number of streets were reserved for foot traffic. We ate a pleasant lunch at a place that Ayşe had found called Kalender. The name is from a Persian word, originally referring to an order of itinerant mendicant dervishes; now it is used also for an unconventional person, a Bohemian. As our tour group would be, most custom in Kalender was female. This is the usual sign of a restaurant good for vegetarians. Kalender was this. The placemats were printed with entries from Sevan Nişanyan’s Turkish etymological dictionary, one of the sources that I have just used for the origin and meaning of Kalender. We were just about as far as we could be in Turkey from the Aegean coast, where Sevan had laid out the Nesin Mathematics Village, where we would be in three weeks.

After lunch, we thought we might walk further west to the local Ayasofya. We crossed a stream valley, where we could see gardens, but also construction equipment, along with forms for new retaining walls made of reinforced concrete. In an Ottoman house overlooking the valley, we encountered a new museum of the city. There was not much to see, unless one was excited by old photographs; but we learned that the boy who would become Muhteşem Süleyman—Solomon the Magnificent—had been born in Trabzon.

Sal & Pokut, Wednesday

The Ayasofya was supposedly too far to reach on foot. I didn’t believe this, but I also felt no urgency to go there, especially knowing that it had been turned from a museum into a mosque in recent years. This had meant covering up the Christian decorations inside. We found the dolmuş back to the university.

Ayder, Thursday

For dinner, we wanted pide, “Turkish pizza,” a specialty of the Black Sea. The food court of the nearby shopping mall had Italian pide—pizza—but no pide proper. Many Arab families were visiting the mall, the women sporting black niqab. I imagine they came to Turkey, to be among co-religionists; and to the Black Sea, to be cool.

İremit Mosque, Tuesday

Out on the regular streets near the university, we found a mom-and-pop establishment called Park Pide. Mom baked our pide in the oven, and Pop explained how to use the sharp knife provided, to cut off the crisp crust and use it to scoop up the molten cheese along with the butter and egg. Ayşe returned the plastic straws brought with our ayran: they were one bit of trash we could do without, though the foil-topped plastic cups would themselves be thrown away. Ayşe also declined sugar for the tea brought after the meal. Pop was so impressed, he offered to make us his guests; but Ayşe insisted on paying the bill.

Monday, en route to Gorgit

On Sunday morning, we were to meet our tour group at the airport at half past nine. As we were getting into a taxi, a little after nine o’clock, Mustafa called Ayşe to say that everybody else was waiting. Unlike the new monstrosity that will replace Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, the Trabzon airport was not far out of town; we were there in ten minutes.

Monday, nearing Gorgit

Ten years ago, Ayşe and I toured the southeast of Turkey in a bus that left Ankara on a Saturday evening, reaching Diyarbakır Sunday afternoon. The bus was big, with pairs of seats on either side of the aisle. Our guide, Tolga, told us we would keep the same seats throughout the tour. He also invited us to introduce ourselves to the group.

Sunday, down from Mençuna

This year, it seems Mustafa did not give such an invitation, even as the rest of the group waited for Ayşe and me. When we went to the van, we did not learn who else was inside; neither, apparently, did they know one another. The remaining two empty seats were not together. When Mustafa asked if anybody wanted breakfast, people at least wanted to have tea and meet one another. Thus, before leaving town, we stopped along the highway at a café named for one Necla Hanım.

Thursday, lightening the load to get over a ditch

Though I was impatient to be on the road, I had to apply the principle that I must not be bothered by little things, in a world and a country with real problems. It was pleasant at least to meet İpek and Yakup, whom we sat with at the café, and the latter of whom was a math teacher. They seemed to have matching red shirts. I recalled seeing a pair of matching purple bicycles, locked up outside the National Gallery of Art in Washington; when I saw a couple coming out of the museum in matching yellow-green jackets, I figured they were the cyclists. (They were.)

Monday, en route to Gorgit

Throughout the tour, my application of the principle of tolerance was mostly successful, though not entirely. On Monday morning, when Mustafa had told us to meet for breakfast at seven, to be ready to leave at eight, I did not mind that he himself came down to breakfast at eight, and we left half an hour after that. By Friday though, some of were getting tired of spending a lot more time driving to places than actually hiking in them. Up in a yayla on the previous day, Selami had told me about the Bukla Laz Alps Tour, which he and Deniz had taken the previous summer: there were five days of hiking, from one mountain hut to another, with no use of a car. On Friday then, when we were all ready to drive off at nine, as we had been told, it was annoying to learn that our driver had not been warned of this.

We were staying then in a hotel called Oberj, in the rather low yayla called Ayder. This yayla was commercialized and crawling with tourists, both Turk and Arab. When we got there on Thursday afternoon, Mustafa led us on a hike up a hillside covered first in grass, then in ferns, then in pine forest.

When we came back down another way, we found tourists sitting just below the trees, taking photographs of one another. They seemed oblivious to the litter around them. We started gathering the litter in a huff. I picked up the remains of a picnic, including an empty rakı bottle; most of the trash had already been collected into a plastic grocery bag, which however had been abandoned on the hillside.

We stayed in the Oberj Hotel the last two nights. Before that, we had two nights in the Nordic Hotel.

Nordic Hotel, Wednesday morning

The tour normally stays in one hotel, all four nights; but this was not possible for us. It might have been convenient, not to have to pack and move the one extra time; but each of the two hotels was good in its own way.

From Oberj, early Friday morning

Oberj was wooden, and from the patio and windows one saw the water cascading in a narrow stream down a cleft in the mountain opposite.

Oberj patio, later Friday morning

Nordic was in the valley above the town of Çamlıhemşin, in an old stone building that had once housed a school. There was a large yard out front, with a fire pit to the side. The rooms were large, with floor-to-ceiling windows; two of our walls had two of these each.

Way to the pool, Wednesday

Unfortunately there was a dearth of ways to hang wet things to dry in the room. This mattered, because Nordic had a pool. When Mustafa told us about the havuz on Wednesday, I was surprised, for I pictured a concrete basin filled with heavily chlorinated water. But the pool was a swimming hole in the stream. You reached it by a path marked with a sign that said only, “Protect Nature: throw your trash in the trash” (Doğayı koru: çöpünü çöpe at). Having come down from a yayla under full sun, I could think of nothing more perfect than getting into that stream. The heat had been giving me a headache; the water took this away, though it was not quite so cold as the glacial lake would be. The swimming hole was fed by a small waterfall, which Deniz demonstrated how to use for a massage. You had to brace yourself against the rush of the water.

Green Roof, Tuesday morning

Our first two nights, in Macahel Valley, were in the Green Roof Hotel. It had been made of unpainted wood like Oberj, though more recently. On the road above the hotel on Tuesday, local men told Ayşe and me that the local buildings were of chestnut wood, were two hundred years old, and would last another three hundred years. The men may have been bullshitting; but down in the valley, Mustafa showed us a wooden mosque, İremit Camii, decorated inside with bright colors, applied when the region belonged to the Russian Empire (or at least felt the influence).

Mustafa had told me that nobody stayed in the valley in winter. The local men said twenty families had stayed last winter, and before that, a hundred twenty. “The state takes care of us,” they said: it kept that mile-high pass plowed in winter, though the work might take two or three days after a heavy snow.

We had had a long drive to reach Macahel on Sunday. At first the van was quiet. I asked Mustafa about the coastal highway, and he told me it had been built since his childhood. He did not seem too happy about it. We started seeing tea bushes on the hillsides, and I asked Mustafa whether his family grew tea. They did. This brought an eruption of questions from everybody else about tea, but I could not follow all of the discussion.

Mençuna Şelalesi, Sunday

At home I grind coffee with the brass mill that was Ayşe’s grandmother’s; then I steep the grounds in a French-press. However, Ayşe and I had once been served outstanding tea at a Black-Sea restaurant in Istanbul. Since we were now where Turkish tea was grown, I drank it throughout our tour, and this tea too was outstanding, at least in the first days.

On Sunday at some point, we made a detour inland along a narrow road in a stream valley. There were no houses and no other cars. We did find people at a pair of tall arched Ottoman bridges; but we did not stop till after we had proceeded further along a narrower road, to where we could hike up (with other tourists) to see a waterfall called Mençuna.

Along the way to the falls, we could see tea being harvested. The harvesters used shears to which bags were attached, so that the cut leaves would just fall in. Picking whole leaves one by one would be tedious, but I wondered whether it would make for better tea.

We ate lunch in Hopa, at a table with Şule and her daughter Elif Su from Balıkesir. I said the name of their city came from Paleocastro, or “Old Castle” in Greek. However, our companions did not know of any old castle in town. According to Bilge Umar in Türkiye’deki Tarihsel Adlar (Istanbul: İnkılâp, 1993), “it is [only] thought” (sanılıyor) that the city was called Παλαιόν Κάστρον in late Byzantine times, and that the modern name comes from this. (Umar writes PALAİON KASTRON.) The word κάστρον is not even in the big Liddell–Scott lexicon, though it is in a modern Greek dictionary as κάστρο; it must have come late from the Latin castrum, whose diminutive, castellum, is the source of the English “castle.” We would be seeing a Byzantine-era castle on Saturday.

Meanwhile, in Hopa on Sunday, Ayşe and I shared a pide that looked very much like the khachapuri that we had enjoyed in Tbilisi. Elif Su and Şule ordered pide too, and when we all started to ask for cutlery, the server explained that we were to use our fingers to pull off pieces of crust, and eat with these.

At a building under construction near the restaurant, I noted two different ways of laying bricks over an archway.

When we turned off the coastal highway towards Macahel, we made a last stop for supplies for our lunch the next day. We would hike to Gorgit Yaylası, picnic there, and return.

The hike took seven hours. Almost every step seemed to involve some difficulty. We had to scramble over rocks, or pick our way along stepping stones in the mud, or just plow ahead through the mud. Thus the gaiters that we wore, at Mustafa’s recommendation, were probably a good idea. My new boots, lined with Gore-Tex, did not leak. Mustafa also recommended donning our ponchos. Not all of us did this, and the mist never really evolved into rain; but neither did the clouds lift.

A lot of work had been done to try to maintain the trail. Sometimes logs had been laid down over the mud, or formed into stairways at hills. We passed one other person, presumably a local man: he had a rifle strapped to his back.

Warned that the hike would be gruelling, five of us had opted not to join. Ayşe and I borrowed the hiking staffs that two of them would have used. The five did hike down into the valley below the hotel, albeit along the road that the van had taken. They had tea. We picked them up as we returned from the long hike. When Necla got into the van, she remarked on how quiet we all were. “We haven’t had tea since breakfast!” said Ayşe.


Back at the hotel, after a shower, I joined others at a table outside. Elif Su asked how the hike had been. I said it had been unbelievable: it was what I lived for. Indicated his own sitting in a chair, Yakup said, “This is what I live for!”

Maral overlook, Tuesday

I am translating here from Turkish. I talked in English with Liz and Murat and with Sonay, who was working on a doctorate in anthropology in the States. Otherwise I struggled with Turkish, although my interlocutors might then invite me to speak in English.

From our room, Monday morning

At home I usually get up after five or six hours of sleep. I work on whatever I am working on: it could be mathematics, or this very text. Later in the morning, or else in the afternon, I get more sleep. I could not very well follow this pattern on the tour. When I woke at two o’clock, I stayed in bed, thinking my thoughts, watching as they gradually lost urgency and became dreamy. Perhaps I did not really sleep again until the prayer call had come, around four o’clock; then I would have real dreams, until a quarter to five. The sky was light now, and I would get up to write notes on the previous day’s activities.

Tuesday morning writing

On Monday morning, I did this writing in the little room that served as a passage from our bedroom to our bathroom. The room had a window onto the valley, but no furniture, so I sat on the floor. I recalled a theme of some dreams over the years, dreams of extreme places that I could nonetheless visit. They might be far north, or far from sea level, or just somehow difficult to get to. In the Green Roof Hotel, way up on the side of an isolated valley, I seemed to be living my dreams.

I don’t know how many people were disturbed by my early activity. A wooden hotel is noisy, as signs everywhere warned the guests. On Tuesday morning, I just went out when I got up. Though like everybody else’s, my boots were outside the hotel, the floorboards outside our room creaked under my stocking feet.

After writing at a table outside, I walked further along the road we had driven in on. A sign said Maral Şelalesi was three kilometers ahead. I did not have time to reach the waterfall, but I delighted in strolling as the morning sun came over the mountains. I admit to thinking of the words of Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert, and John Denver: “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong!”

I passed beehives, but they were not clearly active. As I came back towards the hotel, I noticed squash vines, humming with bees. The vines covered a carport housing a shiny SUV with Istanbul plates. I figured a local person was doing well in the big city.

After breakfast we all drove to the waterfall, or rather to the spot from which one could hike down to see the waterfall. Presumably the work of building stairs had been done by the person who served tea at the overlook.

Some of us took the option of walking back to the hotel. Along the way, Ayşe found out that Özlem had an interest in American literature, particularly Salinger. Ayşe then brought me into the conversation, and we talked about “Sarsak Dayı Connecticut’ta”—“Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut,” which I had already been thinking of recently: it had the awful power to make us care about a selfish racist woman.

We drove out of the valley, stopping again at the mile-high pass. There was no fog this time, but the sky was clear. Some mystery was lost. On the other side, we stopped at Karagöl, Black Lake, created in the nineteenth century by a landslide; one could still see old tree-trunks in the water. One also saw quite a few tourists, some of them women hiding their hair and even their faces, except for the eyes. I wondered what the doctrinaire Muslim thought about enjoying nature.

Monday, Gorgit

Fundamentalists, of whatever nominal religion, seem bent on suppressing all pleasure. I suppose they find it idolatrous. In this spirit, Saudi Arabia has reportedly tried to destroy all traces of history, except for the parts of Mecca that feature in the pilgrimage. For the same reason, should not then Nature herself be destroyed, leaving the whole earth looking like the Empty Quarter? This idea might explain the policies of the ruling party of Turkey, who (as I saw pointed out in a tweet recently) measure progress by how much concrete they have poured. As I learn from another tweet, the president boasts that the concrete of the Ataturk Airport is going to be replaced with the biggest national garden:

Atatürk Havalimanı’ndaki çalışmalarımızı başlatıyoruz. En büyük millet bahçesi burası olacak. Malum her yer beton yığınlarıyla doldu.

However, more concrete has already been poured elsewhere.

1,453 dump trucks at the new Istanbul airport, 2017

Ayşe tells me of a türkü by Ruhi Su called “Tevhit.” A tevhit is an affirmation of the unity of God; Ruhi Su sings,

Benim Kâbem insandır
Kuran da kurtaran da
İnsanoğlu insandır

My Kaaba is man
Founding and saving
The son of man is man

İnsan is man in the sense of human being; Unlike English, Turkish has a separate word, adam, for a male human being. I do not know what connection there may be between the Turkish use of insanoğlu and Jesus’s use of the corresponding Aramaic, translated as υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, as for example in Matthew 8:20.


It is good that folks with houses in Macahel can come and go in winter time. At his house in West Virginia, my Uncle Bill used to talk about the benefits of Rural Electrification to the local people. But then one might say of this what has been said of air conditioning: it has allowed population growth in places whose votes have given the United States its Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Sal, Wednesday

Of course there is more to say. These matters could be a subject for the anthropological research of somebody like Sonay (whose actual work, as I understand it, involves film censorship in Turkey).

On Wednesday morning, when I went down to the hotel lobby at 5:30, I learned that the guide from another Bukla tour was sleeping on a couch. He sat up and pointed out the side door I could use to get out, since the main door was as big and thick as a castle’s. Thursday night at the Oberj Hotel, the man would play songs on kemençe that Ayşe enjoyed; but I would be in bed. Meanwhile, Wednesday morning at the Nordic Hotel, I sat on a bench out front, and the sun started shining on me.

After breakfast, we drove for more than an hour, up and up on a rocky road, with many hairpin turns as usual, to reach two yayla where tourism was encouraged. There were signs about a cable car serving the yaylalar, but we did not see the car itself. There was a short hike through a forest from Sal to Pokut. The latter was more developed, in the sense of having more places to sit and drink tea and admire the view. Some of us found the highest such place.

Kant inferred that mountains must be sublime, though he never left Königsberg to see any; at least this is what a friend told me in college. Two decades later, in Switzerland, outside Berne, ascending the cable car to the top of the Niesen was a revelation to me. Being in Pokut Yaylası was like that. As Murat pointed out, possibly the other mountains in Rize were not so distant as in Switzerland. He wanted to stay the night in the yayla, to have the better light for photography that evening and morning would bring.

After our visit to the swimming hole, lunch at Nordic was roasted meat for the others, mushroom caps with cheese for Ayşe and me. The chef also brought us roasted potatoes and peppers, heaped in the concavity of an earthenware roof-tile, which rested on a slice of tree-trunk with the bark still on. Perhaps this young man had learned food-presentation techniques at culinary school. Later, Ayşe apologized for giving him trouble, and said his food was a pleasure to eat; he said it was a pleasure to prepare. Meanwhile, as I ate lunch on Wednesday, I felt as I do in Sedan, West Virginia, after a swim in the North River: the body has been chilled, so the heat of the day is indetectable.

Later in the afternoon, there was a rumor of a hike that would originate from the hotel itself. I joined the group that Mustafa led away; but we walked along the road, and soon a lot of cars started to pass. I didn’t see the point of continuing, so I turned back. It is good that I did. The group just walked to a café by an Ottoman bridge where other tourists were photographing themselves.

Back at the hotel, I went to photograph the swimming hole. Murat had already been enjoying it again. I fetched own my shorts; but by then Murat was leaving.

On Thursday morning before breakfast, I sat on the terrace at the back of the hotel, looking out at the path to the swimming hole. I ate the apple that Yakup had given me from the ones he had picked from a tree. The apple was crisp, but bland, and I ate it slowly while I wrote. I cut it into pieces—which quickly turned brown—with my Swiss army knife.

On the return to Trabzon on Saturday, I did not find that knife in my pocket, and I didn’t know whether it was in my luggage. We made three stops to buy local products for souvenirs: first at a tea shop, then a clothing shop, and finally a knife shop. There I bought a new pocket knife, albeit with a single blade and nothing else. The shopkeeper engraved it with my name. At home I found the Swiss army knife—a souvenir of Berne—in my daypack.

As for apples, Yakup must have eaten his lustily. This would have been his reason for picking the apples in the first place. At dinner on Wednesday evening, the conversation had concerned diet. As usual, I could not follow all that well. Perhaps Ayşe had already said what I felt moved to interject: everybody is different. What works for one person’s body may not work for another’s.

We drove up to another yayla on Thursday, or two adjacent yayla, apparently called Tasikeri and Pipilona, though I cannot find confirmation on the web. At a stop on the way up, since Nurdan had said she had worked for a wool company, I talked with her about the wool in my own tee-shirt. Imported from the Czech Republic by the Turkish firm YDS that had made my boots, the shirt was supposed to consist of the finest wool on the market, and not to get smelly for some days. Turkey produces coarse wool; fine wool has to come from Australia or, apparently, eastern Europe.

Thursday’s two yayla were less commercialized than Wednesday’s, but with houses that seemed built more for summer holidays than for camping out while tending herds. We sat in the sunshine above the clouds, as if on the wings of an airplane.

Lunch at Sini Cafe on Thursday may have been the best meal on the trip. We served ourselves from the pans that the chef set out for us. There were vegetable gardens on two sides. I thought one of the vegetables was pazı; but Mohammed, and then Sonay’s sister Lütfiye, told me it was marul. Still dubious, I went in to ask the chef, who told me it was marul; she pointed out the pazı that was growing elsewhere.

We moved to the Oberj Hotel and did the hiking, and the trash-collecting, mentioned earlier. With trash in hand, I explained in English, to a (presumably) Arab tourist who spoke it, that we were not employees of anybody; we just did not like seeing Nature treated like shit. He said he wanted to help us. I said the work was not for us, but for everybody. I also said that probably most of the trash had been left by Turks.

Avusor, Friday

One of our group told me Turkey was being sold to the Arabs. I suggested that it was being sold to whoever wanted to buy it. This (I add here) would include the Chinese (who made a big loan recently); the Russians (who are building a nuclear power plant); the British (who buy holiday houses); and the firm called Eurogold, who kill olive trees in search of the yellow metal thought to lie beneath. Furkan told us on Tuesday that gold mining with cyanide in Macahel had poisoned drinking water.

On Friday we hiked to the lake above Avusor Yaylası, as I described.

We hiked back down in thick fog.

Lunch at the base was good. There was cornbread and fluffy wheat bread, hot from the oven. Adjacent to the dining room was a tea room, with benches along the walls.

Back in Ayder, some of us took the option of hiking the rest of the way to the hotel.

Round beehives could sometimes be seen in the trees. These were karakovan, hives where the bees themselves produced the combs. The resulting honey was special. You can buy karakovan honey in shops, but it is very expensive, and there is always the question of whether it is authentic. At least now we have seen where the real thing is produced.

We had a tea break, and some persons took advantage of the internet connection.

On Saturday morning at 5:30, Deniz must have been surprised to find me on the patio of Oberj.

Selami came a bit later; they had a taxi coming for an early departure.

The rest of us, after breakfast, got in a new van, with a new driver, for the ride back to Trabzon. First we visited the castle I mentioned, called Zilkale, and another waterfall, called Palovit.

At Tarzanpark, Merve and İpek elected to don helmets and harnesses and struggle through the course that had been strung out between the trees.

Email addresses were exchanged. A WhatsApp group was also formed, but Ayşe and I do not use that medium. I looked forward to doing what I had always understood Wordsworth to mean by recollecting emotion in tranquillity. We took the bus home.

At home, from something over six hundred photographs, I selected the ones here. Independently I wrote the text, using memory, my notes, and Ayşe’s summary:

Mançune Şelalesi, öğle yemeği Hopa’da pide ve taze fasulye green roof şelale otel
Gorgit yaylası, öğle yemeği yaylada kumanya
Maral Şelalesi, İremit Camii, İremit Gürcü Lokantası, Çamlıhemşin Nordic Otel
Sal ve Pokut, öğle yemeği otelde mangal
Tasikeri ve pipilona, öğle yemeği Sini/Filiz Abla? Mıhlama, kara lahana, mücver, laz böreği Oberj
Avusor, öğle yemeği yaylada kara lahana pilav vb ve otele yürüyüş
Zirkale ve Palovit Şelalesi. Öğle yemeği Tarzan Park. Çay, bez ve bıçak alışverişi. Dönüş

I tried to fit the photographs to the text, usually without captions. Since many sections of text had no photographs to illustrate them directly, I brought in photographs from elsewhere, usually with captions.

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