Thursday, September 13, 2007
Phone contact was made with our soon-to-be friends and we made our way back to the otogar to meet them. On the way we stopped in a little convenience store type place for drinks. As I paid for my juice, the guy working the cash register asked me where I was from. I told him. He got up laughing, grabbed my neck, and made a show of strangling me! We all laughed and more banter was traded. But I wonder how deep his amusement actually went. I thought about this again later that night on our next bus ride when a very niec guy on it told us that we should not tell people that we are American. He didn't (need to) elaborate. Singular incidents thus far. I have no qualms telling people where I am from. And besides, it is far easier to tell it straight than to be caught in a lie later, yeah?
Anyway. Long story shortened, three friends took us on a tour around the city. And it was awesome! We went into a museum (free, somehow) with artifacts that were hundreds maybe thousands of years old, and these guys were touching and picking them up, man handling and generally acting as you never could in a museum in the US. It was hysterical! It was like hanging out with the three stooges. One guy spoke some english and french, the others spoke nothing we could understand. One of the latter was the type of person that is hysterical, even when you have no idea what he is saying. It was great! We saw an old castle and inn (where a movie is being shot) and then headed out of town to a really old church. In it was a Bible, written in Aramaic? Wild. Churches of various faiths are in the town, all side by side without problem. Tolerance good.....
A cannon just went off. It is now allowable to eat and drink (ramadan started today)!
Back to the boys. They took us out to dinner and then drove us back to the otogar where we immediately got on a dolmus headed to the town of...wait for it....Batman!!
Who am I? You're coach. Who are you? I'm...batman!!
We went through the gorgeous town of Hasankeyf, along the edge of the Tigris River. The sun was setting and it was absolutely stunning. The town, the old bridge and homes, the canyons.....too bad a dam is planned that will flood the entire area and displace tons of towns. Guess I have to come back to see the place before they drown it!
Instead of stopping in this beautiful hamlet, we continued on to Batman, an oil refinery city. They even have a piece of art work in the middle of town of an oil drill. So not as scenic. However, it was a great stay.
In the otogar, as we stood buying tickets for yet another trip (the next day of course), a round sweaty loud and bellowingly happy man bounded into the office speaking very broken english. He grabbed Justin and began popping Justin's knuckles and was about to move on to his elbows when Justin ran out screaming leaving the guy holding his backpack. My back was hurting and it amuses me how many pieces of me pop, so I dropped my bags and let the guy go to work. Hooboy. The hands were fine. Elbows...ok. Then he did something to my collar bones. He rolled skin on my chest and with a flicking motion did...something. This he repeated again on my chest and on my back. He cracked my neck in a couple of different ways as well. Through all this the guys behind the ticket counter were rolling at this guy and the faces I was making (I lost most of the hair on my chest because of this. No small feat) and Stephanie was leaning up against a wall crying with laughter. Justin occasionally poked his head in the door but would let out a stifled EEK and run out again. It wasn't until this guy started yanking my pants up from behind that I called a stop to it. Temporarily. I was curious, ok? I let him continue. So a minor wedgie and he did that weird skin thing to my lower back. And then he was done, just about dancing out the door in glee.
On to the hotel bit. Didn't stay at one. The 17-year old kid that sold us our tickets walked us to a hotel that we deemed to pricey. So he offered up his place. He works at the bus place in exchange for some money and a place to live. Two very spartan rooms down a broke looking street. But not bad at all. Taking him up on the offer he walked us to his place and we passed hordes of screaming/fighting kids, some not-yet complete buildings and lots of trash fires. After dropping our bags we went for a walk that terminated in a park across town. A band was playing (at least until power was temporarily lost), we drank tea and enjoyed the cool night and swapped english and turkish lessons (Our new friend spoke very little english). It was one of those nights that makes you stop and say: ah! Life is amazing!
By 10:30pm we'd had mats rolled out for us and we went eventually dropped off to sleep. Little did we know that the wake up call was coming at 5:45 so that no one would be late for work. No worries. We drank tea and ate bread until our bus at 8:30am to the city of Van.