Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cute and cuddly doggies 

Back to the other morning. After being dropped in the streets of New Mardin at 4am we were in need of a place to crash. The fancy expensive hotel across the street was full and not another was to be seen. Hoisting our packs we began hoofing our way towards the old city. Right quickly a guy pulled up next to us and let us know (Who doesn't love a good game of charades?) that he'd give us a ride to a hotel. Good thing he did because there was a huge hill and a few kilometers between us and...the fanciest hotel in town. The ride was great, but unfortunately the hotel wanted too much out of us for the pleasure of staying in decadence. Back outside we went to soak up the gorgeous view: the hotel was on a spit of land that dropped off sharply on both sides. One side fell down to the faraway plain and the lights of distant cities. Old Mardin was on the other side, buildings stacked up the side of a large hill and a beautiful sight. I'll download and put a picture on there since I won't be able to describe it well enough. Take my word for it-with the moon hanging over the city and the stars sparkling....it was a breathtaking sight. We stood and gazed for a long while because it was beautiful....and because we didn't want to start the long trek back around to the entrance to the old city.

And then it began. Roosters began crowing. Annoying, but not threatening. They did, however, roust the local canine population which from the sound of it was quite sizeable. I chose to remember at this time what the guide book had said about dogs in the east part of the country-not friendly. In fact, a bit attacky. Huh. This caused us to pause even longer in our departure. Eventually we did, Steph clutching a small twig and me with a handful of rocks, Justin looking dazed and overwhelmed and confused. Our walk took us past the town's electricity plant and all the guards watching over it who looked quite amused at our crouching stulting progress down the street. I laughed back until they stopped smiling. Touchy. Cats began coming out to check on us, friendly as most cats seem to be in this country. An idea sprang to mind and I began scooping up as many cats as I could hold. Since Justin was so docile (in shock) I loaded up his shoulders and arms and placed one for good measure (my amusement) atop his head. On we progressed.

Then they came. We began climbing the hill into town and sensing our weakness 2 large dogs bounded in from the left. I rubbed 2 cats together to get their dander up and then overhanded them one after the other at the dogs. One missed, but Steph acted quickly and grabbed the kitty from Justin's head and lofted it with a wild woman's yell at the dog I had missed. Our relief was palpable as both dogs took off with screaming cats clawing at their eyes. The next attack came from the right before we could react. A large black dog knocked Justin tothe ground with a head to his stomach and was about to strike when the cats that had been in Justin's arms fell onto the dog and began an attack of their own. Frantically looking around for more feral cats we could hear snarling all around. Just then Ali showed up and ushered us quickly into his car! As we drove off one last dog attacked the car and ran alongside for a brief bit before giving up. What a relief it was to get a ride!

And what an angel Ali is! He drove us around trying to find us a hotel, banging on doors and asking posted cops in an effort to help us out. Finally we ended up at a fancy castle place that we knew was going to be pricey but at this point we could not say no. Fortunately it wasn't as expensive as we thought and we checked in. By now it was a little after 6am and we didn't have to pay for the night that was just ending! After dropping our bags we met Ali on the second floor terrace for some tea and attempted communication. Steph is doing awesome with her Turkish and that helped tremendoulsly, as did the flash cards she had made and the various language books we have. So for a couple of hours we drank tea and had a great time. Ali left promising to return later to show us around (leaving us not anxious to have the awkward "how much will this cost" conversation) and we crashed for a few hours.

Upon waking our bellies urged us to find food. Which we eventually did in the bakery of a garrulous and amazing man! He spoke decent english and we sat and chatted and drank tea with him amid the flurry of manic baking and selling taking place all around us. Eventually we were served penirs (sp?), butter soaked break with cheese and egg. Very tasty! A couple of pictures were taken and we headed back to the hotel to meet Ali. Who ended up calling to cancel. Which worked out perfectly because we instead spent the next couple hours drinking tea (so much tea! I love it! Gotta cut back on the sugar tho) and chatting with one of the workers there who had lived 4 years in London and spoke great English. It was awesome to hear about life in Turkey, being a woman in Turkey and in that small town, about peoples' thoughts on all going on in Iraq (interesting stuff) and life in general. It was awesome! After a couple hours we agreed to meet for dinner and we went off for a walk.

And what a walk it was (and what a long post this is!)! As we climbed higher into town we passed more and more kids very excited to see and talk with us. Some spoke a little english and we swapped language lessons as they guided us to the military base on top of the hill overlooking town (within which we were told the US military has a presence to watch for Iraq Iran et al?) and another amazing view. Passing kids with rock bruised heads, wrestling kids, entertained adults offering us water and tea we began making our way back down. But then we ran across an entire family sitting at the bottom of their stairs and we had to stop for tea and bread and a riotous time. The little son is a hellion and was a riot to watch. Lots of pics were taken, lots of laughs shared and yet another amazing experience.

Dinner with our new friend was good and it was nice to have our one large meal of the day. It calmed down the jitters for a few hours.

One recurring theme of this trip is the people we've been meeting. Everyone has been incredible and the locals have been getting nicer and more wonderful the further east we go. Even the guy who tried to strangle me was really nice about it.

More stories to be told, but not now. This town has been in it so we are going to go find some dinner and have a cold beer.

Well I went back on the road, sort of, last night. More boring, and with no exaggeration, it's been shite. Yesterday, 1 hour layover after getting on the plane. Next, not even a drink service because the pilot didn't want anyone standing up due to constant bad turbulence the whole flight. Then they lost my bag, after I got to the airport earlier than I ever have. Finally, I find out the film fest is in town. Insane here, but you'll never guess who's in my hotel...
Hi Corey,
I just checked in. Sorry I didn't get a chance to read every interesting detail but..I am so amused that the "Little Turkey" is in Turkey!

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Name: Corey
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I'm on a journey with no destination. The path is constantly changing direction but there are always adventures to be had. "Never" and "always" have left my lexicon.

WWW http:/www.jimspeak.blogspot.com