Batumi to Istanbul
When I left Tbilisi, Georgia to head for the European side of Istanbul, my love for the street markets selling paintings, jewelry, silver cups adorned with turquoise, and colorful rugs were hard to pass by. I was heading out of the city to walk to the Black Sea. So, as the sun glinted off the brass and gemstones, I stopped to look and admire the things that I would perhaps buy if I had somewhere to put them. As I browsed I could hear Athena (my cart) thanking me for not convincing myself I was in need of a new cup.
Although I didn't need anything, It was important for me to drench myself in the smells, textures and colors. This is the cultural experience of my walk. To meet people, to listen to the native birds, to smell the bread baking from a families window and live in the awe of where I am. Wherever I am these days, it's because I walked there.
I always experience a happiness and a sadness when I am finishing a leg of my journey. Mongolia was a turning point for me in my walk. I experienced the most challenging weather, both sandstorms and snowstorms. And an attack in my tent at night that had me delve deeper into my conviction in walking, my faith and strength.
When I finished Mongolia, I was personally relieved to be lifted off the ground (literally, as I reached Ulaangom, I was given a ride back to the city where I rested for a month). But I also had to deal with a painful detachment of finding a home for my new best friend, an eight month old puppy who walked with me for almost 1,000 kilometers.
Walking Georgia was like going back in time two hundred years. Farmers using sickles to "mow" their lawns or cut their grain. Curiosity was as great in Georgia as it was in Mongolia. And at times it felt like Georgia was just one big mountain. I was never short on offerings for a tea break from locals. I really enjoyed Georgia and once I hit the crowded streets of Turkey, I was longing for the loneliness of Mongolia again.
I have so much to tell you about- like the seven furry friends I adopted in Georgia, Athena breaking in Turkey and how I'm finding my soul-skin again.
I know I'm leaving you wanting to know more of all that's happened and so I'm going to take some time over the Holidays (Nov-Jan) to write some of these stories that will take you on a journey with me through Central Asia. I'm not sure where I'll do that yet but I'm thinking of it as a writing retreat (let me know if you have any recommendations).
Then.... I begin my trek across Europe.
So, campfire stories coming up....