Hoofin’ It from Hopa to Sarpi
My brain was still stumbling through the last act of Ambien when we arrived two hours earlier than I expected, about 7am, into Hopa, just 19 km from Turkey’s Black Seaside Georgian border. After a cup of tea, I failed to find a reasonable taxi car driver or any bus, so I just began the stroll toward Georgia and figured I’d hop a bus along the way.
But then it got in my head that it was my last day of being 37, and I should still be able to walk 12 miles with 70 pounds on my back. Which isn’t true, I really have no reason to expect this of myself.
The haul was also a good reminder that I’m carrying too much weight. But I hate using other people’s bowling balls and it’s almost impossible to find a good anvil in this part of the world. If I’m not going to wander the world as a bowling blacksmith, what’s the point?
After three hours I made it to the Georgian border, which has changed dramatically in five years. Last time I came through it was essentially an old dude in front of a rusty gate who was suspicious of every Tamara, Dato, and Harry that came his way. Now there’s a football-field sized no man’s land with high-tech cameras and a giant soundwave-like structure of a border tower on the Georgian side almost completed.
Although the Customs woman was young and sweet and pretty, she also thought that one of the few fully blank pages in my passport was a good place to hammer down a measly one-square entry stamp. I hate that. I should’ve been quicker. I should’ve grabbed the stamp out of her hand and said, “Not so fast, sweet cheeks.” They respect authority.
As soon as I was across the border and past the taxi clowns, I changed 50 lira and sought out two things: khatchapuri and Borjomi. It’s been five long years and they’re both still oh so yum (photo above).
Six-ish hours later I arrived in Tbilisi by marshrutka on the divided highway. Divided highway? Where the hell am I?