What Does the Black Sea Tell Me?

Güldemet Gültekin
6 minutes

If life is a game, you need reasons to stay in the game. When I realized that the time it takes to get over my disappointment, to digest his absence, would never be enough, I had to listen to the instantly coming inner voice. My beloved Black Sea, which I had said I could never go back to, was calling me. I didn’t know if my time waiting on the sidelines was up, but there was no way I could not accept the invitation. It wouldn’t be long before I realized that this trip taking me a thousand three hundred kilometers away, was actually a journey to my inner world waiting to be rediscovered.

Every corner of the Black Sea is paradise, but the Eastern Black Sea fascinates people in a different way. Now, rather than the trips pretty well known or the plateaus you often see on social media, I will tell you about the hills, lakes and plateaus that are very difficult to reach, or maybe you have never heard of. 

Koçdüzü Plateau was a difficult destination for me. The fact that the plateau has been accessible for only about last ten years gives a clue about this. The view is worth every challenge. In a landscape that makes you feel so far away from the world, with minus two degrees in September, I come to my senses a little. Although the lack of internet is difficult, it is perhaps the most beautiful part of the plateau.

As I head towards Adalı Göl in the plateau, the never-ending rain of the Black Sea hits my face. It’s a magnificent view. The largest natural lake in Turkey with a floating islet on it, as the name suggests, Adalı Göl (‘Lake with Island’). The ancients used to say that the three floating islets moved in the direction of the wind so they were making weather forecasts accordingly.

I aim to get to the top of the plateau, but it is quite difficult for an amateur like me. Every now and then I turn back and look at Adalı Göl and try to regain my energy. Although the cold and rain slows me down, altitude at 2500m and the name ‘Heaven and Hell Hill’ excite me.

Though I do understand this name at first, when I reach to the top I get it. I come face to face with what my dear teacher always tells us: “Heaven and hell are actually in this world and are within ourselves”. On one side, a paradise with a green that cannot be achieved with any artificial paint and the Lake with Islets, and on the other side, a hellish landscape with steep cliffs with brown stones and rocks. A thin road separates these two different landscapes and offers opportunity for a long reflection. The choice is entirely up to us, with one step to heaven or with one step… Just one step…so I sit at this fine crossroad. Not realizing how wet I am getting, I watch the spectacle of this world being just a passage.

One of the hidden beauties is the Çiçekli Yayla (Flowery Plateau). It is possible to gaze upon these landscapes by loving the “difficult”. As the name suggests, it is home to unprecedented flowers. The altitude is around 2500 meters again…

The plateau, which is recommended to be visited in spring, fascinates me in the fall. It is so impressive that it reminds me of a verse from Holy Qur’an: “He Who created the seven heavens one above another: No want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw? Again turn thy vision a second time: (thy) vision will come back to thee dull and discomfited, in a state worn out.” A sight that reminds us to look for miracles not too far away. Just a little contemplation…

While enjoying the beauty of the landscape, suddenly the fog rolls in and everything becomes invisible as if to remind us when we say everything is fine, an event covers all the beauties like a fog. Nature shows that this fog is a temporary curtain and the fog that obscures everything is disappearing just as quickly. Obviously our efforts are being questioned.

I inhale deeply the fragrance I have never encountered before. I don’t want to leave the view, even though increasing cold restricts my movements. I look around and see no one as everyone has gone to different corners. After a while I try to photograph every moment, not wanting anyone to miss this unique beauty.

Our next route is “Kale-i Bala”. The name sounds quite interesting. I learn that the word means ‘the castle high above’ and that it was recorded in Ottoman archival documents as Kale-i Hemşin Zir and Kale-i Hemşin Bala. It is the castle with the highest altitude in the Black Sea region. On a steep cliff, close to the source of the Fırtına Stream. The view is once again mesmerizing. The small but very meaningful martyrdom on the opposite side, with its story dating back to the Ottoman period, is a must-visit. Of course it is very difficult again. I climb hundreds of steps, everywhere is lush green and with tree species I’ve never seen before.

At the point where I run out of breath, I reach the martyrdom and the magnificent view. Sometimes what you see says a lot, but you can’t put it into words, that’s how it is…

I leave the Black Sea with the wish that everyone should walk on the Çat Valley where the two branches of Çat Creek meet, and everyone should see Karagöl in Şavşat, Mençuna Waterfall in Arhavi falling from  92 meters height; and Derindere Dam on the Çoruh River, which is the highest dam in Turkey and the twelfth highest dam in the world with a body height of 249 meters.

Once again I realize that expatriation means not being miles away, but not being able to say anyhing to someone you love.

May you always be in good terms and love with your loved ones…

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