Wednesday, September 19, 2012

East Turkey

It's been a hectic time travelling long distance buses in this huge wide land.

After İ finished working in the farm İ had two weeks left before my flight in İstanbul, and the East was callıng me with promises of music, spirituality and, of course, food...

So I had a first stop ın Konya, just to see the whirling dervishes and learn a bit more about the Sufi tradition.
Behind busy bazaars and the incredibly detailed Mevlana Monastery (home and grave of Rumi), I got to feel the soft wind of long skirts. Round and round. Closed eyes. One hand pointing to the earth. One to the sky.
Such peace in the building of those fast whirlpools of energy. Concentrated rotating to the rythm of the sad dervish music.

Next day I took off to Sanliurfa, heroic Urfa. Used to be known as Ur, the death place of Abraham (the patriarch, from the Bible!).
So much ancient history in this land. Here Turkey sort of ceases to be that Lycian environment where people speak Turkish. It becomes an Arab and Kurdish land. A garden of Eden watered by the Ataturk damn and silenced by plenty of taboos, like the existence of all countries that end with "an" and the lack of dialogues with plenty of other countries that share the borders.
Anyways. Beautiful angels walk its streets. As I arrived very late, around 11 pm with a very vague idea of where my hostel was. I was taken under the wings of this lovely couple, Hulia and Birin who didn't speak a word of English. But between phone calls to their friends and talking to people on the street, they walked with me to the very door of the beautiful Aslan Guesthouse.
Cok guzel yeni arkadashem : )

The rest was mainly getting lost and found inside the incredibly colorful bazaar full of spices, fabrics, the beautiful song of the anvil in the metal corridors.
The Muslim ladies, like ghosts dressed up as onions with their multiple layers. Some totally black, only walking eyes. Some purple, pink, golden.

The huge tomb of Abraham. Surrounded by the lake full of magical fish... if you fish one, you will go blind.
Sipping chai amidst the Turkish tourists. Not many westerners in this city...

I did a couple of tours, as it was the only way that I found of visiting the two places I really wanted to see: Mount Nemrut and Gobleki Tepe.

Mount Nemrut was a full day of travel from Ur with our great driver Yusuf who ketp teaching us kurdish songs on the road.
We stopped by the enormous Ataturk Dam that irrigates the dry lands of Mesopotamia, sharing the Euphrates flow between pistachos, tomatos,figs, almonds...
We don't really speak about how other countries feel regarding this dam.

The ruins of the Commagene Kingdom, a few centuries BC. Were Antiochus and his huge ego decided to build statues that are still very well preserved. Antiochus had a kind of unity dream, so he depicted Greek gods hand in hand with Armenian and Iranian gods.
The top of Mount Nemrut is an amazing show of big powerful heads watching over the valley.

I also had the good luck to join a little birthday pic-nic on the top of this magical mount. A brazilian, an australian and a turkish guy sharing grapes, seeds, bread, even vegemite!
It was great singing happy birthday in several languages : )

Gobleki Tepe was a much less grandiose but still incredible experience. This temple is the oldest known human building (around 10000 years). It is still in the first stages of excavation, so you can only see some of the big stones that might have represented families carved with beautiful animals of the region.
You can also see the beautiful scarabs that bring the whole place to life...

And then, after very very short 4 days. It was goodbye to the East and hello to the mega-touristy world of Capadoccia.
Beautiful strange land which is almost hidden by the amount of western heads that roam its caves.

I got on a bit of an adventure which involved a man with a horse.
Hassan gave me a ride to the city, but ended up showing me incredibly fertile hidden gardens in the valleys.
It was a very different experience to ride this land through the eyes of a local, including dinner at his mother's house and some of that delicious Capadoccian wine distilled from those magical grapes that grow wild between the rocks.
My body was quite sore after the ride though...

I also met the great Sam and Kerry in the hostel and together we explored the ruins of one of the thousand sunken cities in the region.
This one was special though, as it is free, it is still being excavated, and the guide, Isah, turns it into a playground by scaring you and making you go through thin tunnels that open up to spacious rooms.
I still can't understand what drove these cultures to dig the rocks and build their temples and homes in there.
The land by itself is a piece of art with its "fairy chimneys" that are more like "phallus chimneys". But then the delicate craftmanship of the Christians and those who came before them.
I imagine a sort of social obsession with shaping the rock to your needs. To the smallest details. Where to place the candle, where to tie the animals.

Now I am in grandiose Istanbul. Not so happy at the moment as my body is very tired and possibly reacting to some food I cannot identify...
But oh well, hopefully it'll all soon go away.
I'm sure the relaxing turkish bath will help...

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