East of Heart

Surfing and Dancing eastward again (pt.2)

A dog walk with the road engineers, after a swim Trabzon harbour

To get to the festival we took a shuttle to the local town of Machka from where we hitched a ride to Zigana. Outside of Zigana we came upon the headquarters of the local road engineers who called up some friends who were going to the festival to come and pick us up. 40 minutes later a Hyundai Accent showed up blasting Turkish electro-folk. A couple hand-brake turn practices in the gravel parking lot later, we were off to Kadurga at 2200m, along bumpy serpentine roads. The car came close to impact several times but the music, the frenetic chatter of our young drivers and serene landscapes in the distance made it all seem like a film scene rather than a real experience.

The festival in Kadurga was magical as Padelis put it. Set among several rolling summit hills, people were walking in myriad directions dressed ordinarily and traditionally towards various sites where folkloric music was being played. Giant dancing circles united, spun and broke across the site with each 45 minute session of frenetic flute, drum and fiddle music. Padelis found that the instruments and dances closely resembled some he had seen in Greece. These local rekindlings of ancient Black Sea coast culture happen only a handful of times a year and are not part of the ordinary folklore. What amazed me the most was how well young and old joined in these circles to dance, and were just as enthused whether the accelerated 140 bpm drumbeats that gave cadence to the music came from traditional drums or a drum machine. The most moving moment for me was to snake my way into a small crowd on the fringes from where particularly oscillating melodies emanated, watching the entire dance with most people dressed in completely traditional garb and the second it all ended in an abrupt end-of-verse way, everyone clapped shortly, went silent and turned to those around them and offered them kisses and the warmest of hugs. The most important experience of traveling for me is to learn about what it means to be human and how humans express their humanity towards one another. Genuine love and affection for one’s fellow is hard to come by.

The mist conveniently stayed vaporous until pretty much the end of the fiesta and slowly turned into rain by when we began our hitchhiking attempts. For a half an hour, not one car appeared interested in taking us and then a pick-up with a caged cab stopped by us and everyone jumped in and rode standing. The drivers eventually befriended us and took us to their minuscule mountain village for an end of day tea and snack by a warm furnace. Surrounded by three generations of these expert pastoralists, We relished the experience. Expressions, not words did the talking.

Later on they drove us back to the main road along with their grandfather and we caught a 6 lira luxury dolmuş (shared minibus, this one with coffee service) back to Trabzon. I spent the next day sadly catching up on paperwork before catching a direct night bus to Doğubayazıt. I had my visa and the nice man from Tabriz sitting next to me convinced me to directly cross the border with him that morning to carry onwards my bus inertia.

So off I was to Iran, my dream was about to come true!

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One Comment

  1. Sunil wrote:

    Amazing!