2 July 2014, Wednesday... (RTW, Georgian and Turkey Part, by Merrill Glos )
"Wednesday morning we get an early start for the Turkey border, ride for two hours and stop at a roadside restaurant for breakfast….cheese pie, freshly baked in a wood fired oven… good.
For those that don’t know, we met Ahmet and Emel at a BMW Club monthly meeting at Barb and John Fischer’s house three years ago. They are in the Turkish Air Force and were taking classes at Wright Patt. AFB in Dayton, for a Master’s Degree. Ahmet’s in Logistics, Emel flies an F-4 fighter jet. Ahmet had bought an R1200GSA and I helped them plot two western USA trips…. They have traveled more of our country than most Americans… They became good friends.
This morning we head back toward Batumi on the nice expressway, but turn south just past Gori to take another rural border crossing into Turkey that must be new because it’s not on my map.
After our Cheese Pie breakfast we arrive at the border around noon.
The customs computers are down for three hours, but not to worry, I can’t enter Turkey anyway because I don’t have moto insurance. While waiting for the computers to come up, Ahmet deals with the nice passport control guy who gives Ahmet the phone number of an insurance agent in the next town, 40 kilometers further. Ahmet’s phone battery quits, the passport control guy charges it and the insurance guy emails my policy number to the passport guy who gives it to the customs guys… and the customs guys let me in, hoping that I stop at the insurance guy to pay him… so far everything is on the honor system…. by 4pm the shadows have moved ten feet to shade our bikes but now we’re in.
(note: I needed moto insurance to get into Korea and Russia. Korean handled by Wendy Choi and the Russian by the ferry guy in Zarubino…. I did not need proof of insurance for Mongolia, to re-enter Russia twice, nor for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Georgia…. )
We detour into the insurance guy’s town and find his office with some difficulty…. pay cash, 30USD for three months coverage. I’m legal.
Without Ahmet’s language and negotiating skills, I’d still be waiting at the border, wondering…. “What’s going on… “
Ahmet tells me that there’s a line of trucks a mile long waiting to get into Georgia, just like I witnessed at the Russian border. There were only four cars waiting after the four hour wait for the computers to boot up and I’m wondering why the truckers don’t use this crossing??? We find out minutes later.
After the border, the road climbs two mountain passes, high enough to have lingering snow in the shady spots…. above tree line. Lots of hairpin turns and the going gets slow. It’s getting dark as we follow a mountain river that’s draining into the Black Sea.
There’s a huge new dam project going and we pass three other older dams downstream, all with generating plants.
Our evening destination is Borcka, a dam town. We ride an hour after dark with some light rain, but the roads are good.
Teacher’s Houses…. Turkey federal employees (teachers, postal, police (yes, the police are federal) and others) have organizations that established modest hotels in popular cities for their employees. When the system was going bust, they opened the ‘houses’ to the public, foreigners included. Each modest room has three single beds, no a/c, and clean bathrooms. Ahmet pays 12 dollars, I pay 17. Good deal. We stay in another ‘Teacher’s House’ the next night, same deal. When I leave Ankara, Emel makes a reservation for another in Cappadocia, a real tourist town, but it’s 60 dollars and has no a/c, so not such a good deal. The ‘TH’s” remind me of Di’s community centers…. old men gather and play board games all day, I fit right in.
end of the 5th day...