Journal - Napló

Days 139-140, Turkey 4.

Posted on December 7, 2009 at 4:55 PM


Day 139.


I reached the edge of the Turkish border town, Nusaybin relying mostly on my feet to get there. After two truck-rides I was walking on the streets of a small town offering a view of the surrounding hills and fields. I walked over to the other side of a mountain by following a path. 


After a brief ride, and a misunderstanding about the meaning of hitch-hiking as a way of travelling, I arrived at the centre of Mardin. I shrugged off the idea of taking a bus and set off out of the town on foot. Following a fairly long walk I was sitting in a truck, looking back at the town which was nothing more in the night but tiny yellow lightspots.


Me and the driver hit it off right away. We stopped for dinner at his favorite petrol station. The two guys working there made us some sort of delicious letcho. Then I accompanied him to the nearby ballast works where the truck got loaded. On the way back I was dropped off at his friends’ where the mattress of a two-storey bed was waiting for to be shaped by my body for the night.


Day 140.


I was given a ride to Diyarbakir by two soldiers hurrying up for an exam. I was strolling about in the centre when a young guy named Mehmet called me. He joined me to help reach the border of the town. While he ran into a shop to enquire about the right bus for me, a gentleman said hello to me. It was how the ’avalanche’ began.


I managed to get over the first difficulty: I had to explain the point of hitch-hiking as a method. It took a half-hour but I made it. At that time there were already five of us. Walking towards the local bus stop there was an increase in the number of people who decided to help get me on the bus for Erzurum.


The second difficulty, namely to explain that I only need the bus until the border of town, was overcome by use of a little drawing. However, I didn’t manage to convince my helpers and they sticked to their decision. I talked to an English-speaker friend of one of them on the phone, but hitch-hiking he claimed, was dangerous and therefore unacceptable. I had to (should have to) wait for the bus two hours. I told them a lie that I would come back and respectfully refused a tour-guide offer for the remaining time. Mehmet and I then ran away. He said he would be my companion until I’d managed to get out of town.


We were walking for hours. Through the centre, a vegetable market and amid vast constructions. Reaching the edge of the town, wearily but joyfully we sank to the ground in front of a shop to have a cold drink. Mehmet told me that he lives in a nearby village so I should sleep at his place and then the following day he would give me a ride to Bingöl. He had already given a call to a friend who would give us a ride to the small village.


I was amazed by the hilly Kurdish landscape. As far as the eye can see, fields everywhere, promising a good crop. Wild shepherd dogs (the kangals) running freely, watching over their land with air of magnificance. All seemed abundant and peaceful.


Mehmet’s mother came to greet us with a smile, stepping out from the ’forest of cows’. The little triplets were following the newcomer from far away, timidly.


After having tried the tractor we settled down in the undecorated television room to have a cup of tea. The sun was already setting when Mehmet indicated that we should go, they would take me to the road. I don’t know what made him upset the ’plan’, maybe we just misunderstood each other. Nevertheless, thirty minutes later I was standing at the border of Dyarbakir, at the edge of a poorly lit road section, in the drizzling rain.


At about 7 p.m. a gentleman approached me and asked with an inquistive look on his face what I was doing there exactly. After my answer that consisted of only 1-2 (Turkish) words, he let me know that I shouldn’t expect a ride to Bingöl this late so I would be better off with drinking a hot tea at his place.


We went to the house that lay 10-15 metres far from the road and was covered in darkness. We stepped into a small, hardly equipped room. Convector, two chairs and a table on some kind of legs. He brought tea and asked if he could turn off the light. As it turned out, Salik’s responsibility was to guard the machine stock of the construction area behind the house and with lights off he could look out the window at least a bit. His gun was slipped loosely into his pants.


Sometimes exchanging a few words, we were sitting silently in the dark and slurping the tea.


For the rest of the night, I’ll make a story up…


… Salik indicated that if I was tired I just lie down near the wall. At about 10-11 p.m. I’d ’made my bed’. When I finished it, a car turned in front of the house and two, mid-thirtyish men entered the room. The ’boss-looking’ one had said hello to Salik loudly then he got two chairs and settled down round the table together with his silent companion.


The ’sleeping partner’ was supposedly in trouble or before making a serious decision because Salik was trying to convince him about something for nearly two hours. The Boss sometimes interrupted the monologue of my host saying a couple of loud words, went out to get some bier and made him a carrot-sized weed cigarette. His companion was listening to the preaching, staring ahead. Afterwards, they smoked the ’peace pipe’. Then another one.


It was quite late when we were left alone again in the room. We were sitting in front of the convector for a while. I asked Salik if I could have a closer look at his gun. Then he –as if it was only natural- handed the loaded gun to me. He said he had bought it for a couple of bucks…

I entrenched myself in my sleeping bag and was watching Salik make his bed. He pushed one of the chairs over the wall, in front of it he put the table which was rather unstable then the line was ended by another chair. He brought him some heavy blankets then climbed up this shaky something resembling a bed and wrapped himself.


During the night his phone warned him every hour that it’s time he went to have a look round. Once the waking sign was followed by a crash. The ’silhouette’ stood up from the ground moaning and cursing quietly, rebuilt his bed, checked quickly if everything was okay in the neighbourhood and then fell asleep again.






Written & experienced by Peter, translated by Toni Galambos and published by Kenneth.

Categories: English, Turkey, by Peter

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