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22/02/2011 (julıan solo)– Guneyli to Mardin

March 6, 2011

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The morning is full of laughter and manic energy coming from every corner of the house as the 3 well rested kids are firing on all cylinders.  They take an immediate interest in my panniers and everything I own, darting around and being cheeky.  After breakfast I’m taken on a tour of their village and meet Umrans brother, who was imprisoned by the Turkish military for 13 years.  He shows me the scars on his chin and top of his head, his diary written in perfect script and another book full of pictures of friends he has lost because of torture.  The dark history which permeates into contemporary Kurdish life is something I knew little of but now that I am in a very Kurdish area, for a long time coming, I hope to piece together as much as I can.  The stories I’ve heard so far are fascinating and deeply saddening at the same time.

I wish everyone goodbye and cycle away from this tiny village who’ve given me so much for which I will be eternally grateful.  On recommendation from Umran and his brother I head to Dara just up the road, it’s the site of a Roman/Byzantine city from about 400AD and has some interesting cisterns, necropolis and city walls.  I met a friendly guy who gives me a whistlestop tour,not for money but simply because he is very interested in his area and wishes to share all the information he can.

The quiet road to Mardin passes through wheat fields, something I’ve seen a lot of both in Syria and now in Turkey.  I thought it was grass for feed but now I’ve been correctly informed it is wheat for ‘naan’ (Bread in Kurdish).  I see lots of trucks parked next to villages in between vast fields, its must be quite a Kurdish thing for families to own trucks for transportation as well as farming.

Mardin sits at the top of a hill looming in the distance.  It’s a bit of a climb but definitely do-able, the first of many I say to myself.  I pass Mardin and find a great spot to pitch my tent, next to an abandoned building with a great view of the valley.

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