Had to visit Hasankeyf because it is doomed to disappear. Part of the GAP project in Turkey is to create dams and reservoirs, and that means flooding areas. Hence, bye bye Hasenkeyf. I will now attempt to paste in both text and lots of photos. Sorry for any tedium. If there is tedium, skimming will help.
Here’s link to all the photo of this portion of my journey – there are 80 photos and it took so long to get them uploaded here. Was much faster on the linked site:
Below is my “essay” typed while still in Hasankeyf. The photos tell it all, I think.
I am now in an internet cafe in Damascus, Syria. Had the sudden realization that I was done with Turkey after a month. Since I didn’t have internet and no one around spoke English, I had to wing my way here, and did it by a lot of common sense bus travel:
Hasankeyf to Mardin
Mardin to Turkish town N of Kamchli, Syria (was on the “dangerous” road for approx 60 km. Nothing bad happened). Walked aross border with mysterious guardian angel & his adult son. Guardian Angel helped me change money and get taxi to otogar (bus station). He helped me get ticket to Damascus, then just disappeared. There was a dolmus ride in there somewhere, very squished, and the men from Syria made me feel like a pop star because I’m from America. Apparently, America is very popular here (more on this later as I meet more people).
I had no idea if I had to change busses or what time I would arrive. I thought I would arrive at 1 a.m. (based on written inquiry) but got there 8 p.m. Very much enjoyed the vast empty scenery and occassional houses and cities. Otherwise I slept like a baby despite screaming baby and loud T.V. Bus travel agrees with me.
My Dangerous Dinner in Hasankeyf
Evan, my ancient but fit Kurdish hotel proprietor, told me to eat at Adin’s fish restaurant. He assured me I would not be cheated the way I would be at other restaurants in town.
His speech was memorized, for he forgot he already told me this, and repeated exactly the same words in exactly the same tone.
I could see the restaurant canopy lit below my balcony. It looked like another customer was there, so I set out, not sure how to get there except I had to go down.
Evan saw me headed off for “fish” and seemed delighted. He repeated his speech. I indicated in my usually useless sign language that I needed directions. He indicated he would lead me. It was dark. Very dark. He headed down a dirt embankment. I said “I’ll get my light. I can’t see” (in emergencies I regress to English). He indicated in what I assume was perfect Kurdish “No problem, just come with me.”
Dilemma: be polite or practice personal safety. Polite lost and I walked back and got my headlamp.
Evan had disappeared, so I slowly walked down the embankment. Eventually, another elderly man (probably younger than I) came up and indicated I should hold his arm. I did.
Next danger: sitting cross legged while on the – couch? Bed? – on which I dined. Cramp remained until long afterward.
Next danger: fish bones. Thank goodness this fish arrived without a head. However, he (she?) had more bones than the average fish and it was sort of hard to see and I eat fast so it was all a bit tricky.
I survived. Fortunately the salad of finely diced tomato & cucumber was fabulous. The fish really didn’t taste all that great for being so fresh it would “leap into my plate” (that’s what Lonely Planet said it would do). The fact that the meal cost only 10 TL (i.e.$6.60) was a compensation, but wouldn’t have made it if I had had to be airlifted with a bone constricting my throat.
Adin’s young (approx 10 years old) son did the arm supporting thing to get me out of the canyon
I walked across the bridge to where a large cluster was gathered. Since the afternoon it had grown people and banners and literature. I watched a documentary in Turkish which I assume told about how awful it is that this beautiful town and the remains of 5000 year old ancient civilizations are going to be destroyed via flooding to make a dam (it’s called the GAP project).
Since I couldn’t understand, I simply checked to make sure I hadn’t missed seeing any of the important scenery today (I hadn’t, except I didn’t see any of the birds they showed. I assume all of their habitats will also be destroyed.)
I walked home after the documentary, knowing I have a long adventure ahead of me tomorrow. I will be trying to locate and cross a Syrian border (the one near Aleppo is too far from here, so I am in search of one closer and less obvious).
Summary of Diyarbakir
Didn’t like it. It was dirty. First dirty city I’d been in in Turkey.
Today I met an English speaking Moroccan 29 year old man who works the oil rigs in the region. (go know there’s oil here). He and his 2 work buddies were here as tourists. He spoke all the languages: Arabic, English, Turkish, Kurdish and I believe also French & German.
He told me Diyarbakir is 100% Kurdish and there are no women to be seen there and the population is not as nice as Turks or Arabs (not my experience – I just picked up on a tense vibe – seemed more poor than other places I’d been).
He said that city does not get infrastructure money because of the PKK (anti-Turkish terrorist movement) which is based there
When I described my plan to go to Antakaya to cross over to Syria, he said I must NOT go the direct route, too dangerous with PKK. I scoffed. He said he saw a burning car that had been hit by a grenade with his very own eyes. I stopped scoffing.
That’s when I started searching for an alternative border crossing. Going to Antakaya the long & safe way will turn me into a raving lunatic, for I would have to once again pass through Diyarbakir.