Friday, May 20, 2011
One day earlier than planned, I arrived in Diyarbakir.
The 6-day drive here was anything but easy. Altogether it went on 640km over 4 passes with countless height meters. In Turkey you adapt the roads to the terrain and not vice versa. Since slopes between 6-10% are not uncommon. To make things fun, it is currently quite warm (25-30 degrees) with small storm fronts. My water consumption is now 5 liters a day. Traveling by bike is definitely not an option for softies (a little self-praise must be).
I was spared on the way with beautiful landscapes and villages.
The encounters with the people were usually very great. So on Sunday afternoon I wanted to dry my tent outside of an abandoned house outside of Pinarbasi and have lunch. Suddenly 3 men appeared and invited me to a picnic.
The house belongs to Semsettin Kara. Ali Riza and Celal Atay conjured up two great salads with fruit platter, ekmek (Turkish bread), fish and raki (schnapps) on the table. Well-fed and slightly tipsy, it went on. Two days later, after a long day with many meters of altitude, I arrived at 19:00 in the small village of Darica. Most of the people here emigrated to Europe and only rarely here. Fortunately, almost a fifth spoke German. I was allowed to pitch my tent next to the school and was invited to a cay with the mayor. The school has been closed for some time, with only a few children living in the village. The former teacher now teaches in the neighboring village, but still lives next to the old school. His wife is also working there as an English teacher. The rest of the evening I spent with them at home. She could tell me a lot about the country and people. Her husband is a native Kurd and she comes from the western part of the country. Relations between Turks and Kurds are still not so popular. It was a great, educational and exciting evening at the two.
In Malatya my mobile got out. In Istanbul I had bought a new SIM card. Because my phone is not registered in the passport, the Turks have now blocked my mobile. C'est la vie! For that I could enjoy my first Warm Showers evening in Malatya. At Fatma Bildik, who teaches at a private primary school as an English teacher, I was allowed to spend a restful night. Includes shower and a delicious dinner she cooked with Seer Omac (a colleague) for me. There were menemen (tomatoes, bell peppers and egg) with cacik (yoghurt, cucumbers and garlik) and noodles. Heavenly! At the Turkish elementary school, all children wear uniforms. This should not make the difference between poor and rich children apparent. Fatma lived in France for two years, so we were able to improve our French vocabulary a bit. Thank You very much Fatma!
In one month, elections take place throughout the country, and so powerfully the election campaign drum is stirred everywhere. I have never experienced such an election campaign as here in Turkey. Each party goes by huge buses and cars through the cities.
On the roof they have loudspeakers calling shrill and loud music with election slogans from their candidates through the streets. Exactly that evening was the Prime Minister in Malatya. Everywhere one could see flags of the AK party and I was even interviewed by a broadcaster.
However, in Darende I also had my first negative experience: on the way out of the city a few children threw stones at me. When I stopped, the little rabbits ran away. Cowards!
Otherwise, the Kurds are really great and hearty people. Again and again they call "Hello, Hello!". In the evening my arm hurts from constant waving. Even the truck drivers honk and greet me. Unfortunately, their driving skills are just as bad. But over time you get used to it.
On Thursday evening I arrived in Diyarbakir. Diyarbakir is v. A. known as the center of Kurdish resistance since the 1980s. The city is still the bulwark of Kurdish identity and tenacity. Fortunately, the situation has relaxed to this day. If you walk through the streets, it's hard to imagine open battles between the rebels of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and the Turkish army.
In New Assyrian times, Amid was the capital of the province of Bit Zamani, a former Aramaic kingdom.
After centuries of Achämenidischer, Seleucid and Parthian rule, the place finally reached around 230 AD in Roman hands. In late antiquity Amida was an important Roman fortress on the border of the Persian Sassanid Empire and was fortified by Emperor Constantius II, who stationed there seven legions (since late Roman legions were smaller than in earlier times, this corresponded to a crew of about 7000 men) , In 359 Amida was besieged for 73 days by the Sassanid king Shapur II and finally stormed.
Even later, the place was fiercely contested in the Roman-Persian wars: early 503 about the Persian king Kavadh I was able to take the city after weeks of siege again. A little later imperial troops began to siege the Persian garrison in the city. In 505 she finally went back to Roman hands for a high ransom, after a large part of the population had been deported, starved or killed. Amida remained competitive and was finally conquered by the Arabs in 638. This ended the ancient phase of the settlement.
In the Battle of Amida, the Byzantine ruler of Melitene, Mleh the Great, was defeated in 973 by an Abbasid army. In the following centuries, the city was part of various Turkish principalities such as the Aq Qoyunlu. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Safavids from Iran conquered the city. But a short time later they were defeated in a battle in 1514 the Ottomans. The victorious Sultan Selim I let the city in 1517 occupy. Diyarbakır remained Ottoman until the First World War. After the defeat of the Ottomans in the First World War and the founding of Turkey in 1923, Diyarbakır became part of Turkey.
To the Iranian border are still quite a few vertical meters and kilometers to deal with. My visa is only valid from 1 June and so I can hopefully continue to cycle comfortably towards Van. Before that, my bike needs a new chain and fresh pads. Güle Güle!