Diyarbakir, nomads & on

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September 18th 2011
Published: October 4th 2011
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After breakfast back down beside the Tigris, we loaded up the trusty Fiat and hit the road again. After passing through the town of Batman (had to stop and take a photo of the sign), we continued on to the city of Diyarbakır. This place has a bit of a tough reputation, as the centre of the Kurdish resistance, and there have been riots and uprisings there from time to time. No sign of that today though. As usual, we made our way to the old part of the city, which is invariably the most interesting part. Diyarbakır has very impressive city walls, built of basalt and in fairly good condition. We parked the car and were pleased when Omer said he would accompany us today. Eva who we had met on the homestay had returned here on her own a couple of days ago and had her camera snatched by some kids. It's funny that we had felt completely safe everywhere else, and even here seemed fine but Diyarbakır does have the reputation. 

First we went to an old han (caravanserai) that has been done up and now houses heaps of cafes. Also built in the black basalt, but with stripes in a white stone, it looks great, and is obviously a popular place to sit and sip tea and chat. So that's what we did. The cafe here is also run by the KAMER group that we first came across in Mardin. 

Next we visited the Ulu Cami (pron jarmie), an old mosque, once again built of basalt. Parts of it, including the facade, are under restoration, but we were able to go in a side entrance and check out the main courtyard.

Not far away, down a side lane, Omer took us to see an old house that has been turned into a museum about the life of a famous poet, Cıhit Sitki Taranci, who was born there in 1910. Once again being restored but Omer banged on the door and they let us into the courtyard for a look.

Also visited an interesting church, the Keldani Kilisesi, still in use by a small group of Chaldean Christians.

Omer then let us loose on our own for about an hour, pointing us towards the İç (pron itch) Kale (the keep associated with the city walls). Parts have been restored and it's in very good condition, and also has some lovely parks around it. We were hoping to get up on top for a view over the city and the Tigris, but couldn't find a way up. At one stage we were approached by a small group of kids who wanted money (we said na) and then talked to us for a while. A bit later we ran into them again and they followed us for several blocks, being pains in the neck, and we only shook them off when we went into the bazaar area. Wandered around the bazaar for a while - as usual, heaps of shoe shops and shirt shops, along with an interesting array of other goods. 

Met up again with Omer and went to a restaurant for lunch. It was, as usual, delicious. Jeff has been eating huge amounts at each meal and this was no exception.

After lunch it was back in the car and heading pretty much west now. We detoured off the main highway into the Karacadag (pron Karajada) Mountains, passing some small villages then going even higher until Omer spotted a nomads' camp and we went across a bit of a track, pulled up the car and approached on foot. There were a few tents, some turkeys and people.  Off in the distance some men were looking after the sheep and cattle. There was a group of women and children at the camp and they were very welcoming. They took us to a shaded area at one end of one of the three or so temporary homes, laid out some rugs and invited us to sit. They brought us ayran (home made), not refrigerated, and a little more sour than what we're used to, but we drank it up, and then some çay. They also brought out food, although we couldn't really eat as we'd not long had lunch, which Omer explained to them. He assured us it was ok if we didn't eat - it's part of their hospitality to always offer visitors food, but not a problem if they don't want. Also, none of the women and children had any of the drinks or food, they brought it for us, watched us consume it, and chatted with Omer. It was interesting to hear their different accent (they speak Kurdish but it sounds different to most of the Kurdish we've been hearing). Some of the boys came riding up on a pony. There was a little toddler (only just walking) who (with encouragement) toddled over to me, sat on my lap, then scuttled back to his mum. We noticed that these women were far more chatty, even with men, than most Turkish women. After a while a vehicle drove up and two men hopped out. I think one had gone to town to collect the other, who must have been away. One of the women (his wife) went over to greet the returning man. The other came to the tent where we were sitting and joined us for tea. After a while it was time for us to leave. I took a couple more photos, we thanked them for their hospitality and then we were on our way. 

We returned to the highway and continued our journey west. Eventually came to another mountain range in the middle of which the Ataturk dam has been built. To get across, we went down to the waters edge and were lucky that the ferry was there, almost full and about to depart. Our car was loaded on, as were we. Just before we left, the other ferry arrived and Omer went over to say hi to his brother Mehmet, who was driving the other Nomad Tours car, just returning from a day trip to Nemrut Dağı (pron dar, means mountain). Our ferry soon departed and headed up the lake to a point on the other side. We could also see where they are doing roadworks to a new bridge which, when completed, will make the ferry obsolete. The ferry trip took about 20 minutes.

At the other end we drove off and headed up into the mountains, eventually leaving the main road for a small road that goes all the way up to Nemrut. A lot of the road is paved with shaped brick pavers - kilometers of it. At the lower end we passed some men still paving (by hand). Our destination tonight was the village of Karadut, at the upper end of which we turned in to our hotel - the Hotel Kervansaray. What a lovely place, in a gorgeous setting with views up and down the mountains. We unloaded and then wandered around taking photos before enjoying a cold beer on the terrace as the sun set. Had a lovely cold shower then returned to the terrace for dinner. Up in the mountains it cooled down quite a bit after nightfall, but not inside our room, which stayed warm all night. We went to bed early in preparation for an early rise the next morning. Slept well in this peaceful spot.


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