Sunday, October 19, 2008


Trabzon airport. It’s raining this morning, after two days of clear and sun. Not a bad day to leave, I suppose.

There’s no easy way to travel by air, not through a place like this. I want to go carry-on. But I have my computer backpack, a small bag for my clothes and a plastic bag of stuff I bought. So I’m overloaded. Then there’s my waist pouch. And of course everything must go through security, including jacket and belt. And this tiny airport is filled with some real Black Sea provincials. I maintain equanimity through it all; I’m just observing. Did I mention wifi doesn’t work? I get a network, but nothing opens. None of this is a problem. This relatively little room is rather crowded and I’m lucky to have a seat. There’s a lot of older folks dressed in provincial garb: woolens and headscarves. Ukrainian businessmen on mobile phones.

Yesterday I went on a tour of a tea processing plant and hazelnut processing and packing plant. The hazelnut plant was especially intriguing. It was a largely sterile facility, so everyone was dressed in labcoats. There was bright light everywhere and no windows. Overwhelming white noise from various machinery, but no music, no talk. The workers were almost exclusively women, most of them young, in their early twenties or even younger. Two long rows of them, at least ten sat on each side of the sorting belt, patiently picking out those nuts that still had bits of the brown skin of the nuts’ inner shells. No talking, no music, no natural light. Eight hours (I’m assuming) each day. But placid faces. Beautiful even.