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20/02/11 – rough night and a great day off in Hasankeyf

March 5, 2011

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The night proved to be a rather turbulent one – the wind and the rain took charge of my tent and practically ripped the top sheet right off. I had to get up in the middle of the night and reorient the tent so it wouldn’t get wrecked by the winds, only to realize that in the whole 4 ½ months I’ve been on the road I’ve been putting it up wrong. I fixed the top sheet to the body of the tent how it should be and it all came tight – indestructible now to the winds and the rain. How had I managed to keep it together for so long putting it up wrong!? I went to bed feeling confident I would sleep well despite the weather, and that I did.

In the morning the bad weather had cleared and it was glorious – perfect for my day off in Hasankeyf. The road was downhill and quiet – a perfect mornings cycling. I arrived in Hasankeyf just before lunch and had loads of time to look around.

Hasankeyf is a wonderful place, with a rich history. It’s a beautiful old fortress where people live in caves along the banks of the Tigris. The name means ‘Hasan, what the fuck?’ (Or something along those lines) legend has it the old ruler Hasan was sentenced to death, and his last wish was to ride around his town on horseback. He got to the bridge and in an attempt to escape coerced his horse into jumping off and into the Tigris. The horse died from the fall, but facilitated his escape, hence the name ‘Hasan, what the fuck?!’

It has a sad side to its future however, as in two years the dam they are building 17km up river will see Hasankeyf wiped out of existence. There have been many protests against the dam but it seems it is still going ahead. The town is in a state of disrepair due its doomed future and they are in the process of building a new town for its existing inhabitants out of the flood plain. It’s a real shame because it’s a beautiful place, so I was very fortunate to be able to see it before it goes. I took the opportunity since I had time on my hands to take it all in, do some drawing and when dusk came set up camp on the banks of the Tigris looking back over the town.

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