//ed. note: internet link to original Turkish article unavailable.//
Steep slope tea picking in Ardeşen, Rize.
"Miço (Georgian for 'man')! Hey miço! How much will you
work for? I need four people but I won't give more than 90 lira."
These days in the Black Sea region, and especially around Rize,
this is what you will hear as tea growers try to hire helping hands.
It's early morning in Ardeşen district of Rize in a place the locals
call "above the bridge".
The sun has just risen and tens of people are at work because
they have to beat the punishing sunlight that will come later to
the tea gardens. Black Sea people used to gather tea themselves
or have day workers from other parts of Turkey do it. But in
recent years, illegal workers from Georgia have been doing the
The Georgians come with a change of clothes and wait by the
side of the road to be hired. Then they pick tea in the gardens
that slope 70 degrees for 90 or 100 lira for a full day's work.
Tea producer Selçuk Kaynak finds workers begging to be hired
at the 'Georgia market'. After tough haggling, he makes a deal
with four Georgians. Kaynak frets that he can't make any money
selling his tea for 1.5 lira per kilo.
We go with the four Georgian workers - Nalia Çicavadze, Tamina
Kabulaşvili, and Levter and Tariel Mikadze - to the tea garden.
Actually, Nalia (27) is a successful nurse in her country but she
needs the money she makes in Turkey to help pay her bills. She
explains her situation as follows: "I came the first time last year.
A friend recommended it. Now whenever I get vacation time I
come to Rize.
As for Tamina, she leaves her children in Poti, Georgia, and
comes to Turkey because of her ailing mother: "I need money
for her treatment. It's hard to find work in Georgia, but no
problem in Turkey."
Georgians come to Ardeşen with tea picking on their minds.