Behind the lake : back to Turkey

For fun, i create this altar.

This article is the english version of « De l’autre côté du lac » : ‎

The kids push the biggest dog of the village, expecting me to be scared. I need a little more to be impressed, but a tiny boy is, and starts to cry when the dog barks. I go to the dog and touch him softly, and all the kids run around, full of joy, and throw some snow balls to themselves. I just won their sympathy, and they will be my guides for a small tour around this village, 2300 meters high. Where ? Gölardi, « behind the lake ».

I’m back in Turkey for two little weeks, where i meet my dear friend Esin. As a doctor, she is sometimes called to visit remote places around the city of Van, and she offered me to join her team. While they do some doctor’s stuff, i go outside and meet the kings of the village, the kids. After only two hours, it’s done. The people here may be remote, but they still get used to go to the city, and this doctors visit is almost useless. They offer a meal and some « çay » (tea), then it’s time to leave.

Later, on our way to see a frozen waterfall, we stop by the lake of Van. It’s quite cold, the snow covers the surroundings with a nice layer of cotton, and i really want to… jump into the lake ! I failed. I stay only enough to say i’m in, and i can’t find the courage to completly go underwater, so i keep my head dry. Then it’s time for Muradiye waterfall, impressive. The water fights to pass through the ice, and then runs under a small bridge until an other one a few kilometers down. This second one is named « the devil’s bridge ». In spring, the steam is very strong, but now it’s almost nothing.

Days pass, can’t stop them and i meet some of Esin’s friends again. Barnu and Farshid, the two friends i’ve met five months ago, are two of them, and they join us for a road trip to Diyarbakir, 350km away. It’s an old city, and a part of it is walled inside massive fortifications. Hasan is our host, and he knows the city very well. Despite the weather, cold and wet, we visit as much as we can. The walls, outside and inside, some mosques, an ancient prison (almost, it’s forbidden to enter), a few catholic churchs, but mainly, we spend time walking on the small streets. I should call them maze, instead. From outside they may seem dirty, small, lost, and old, but behind each door there is a surprise.

Here, someone is making is own wine. There, we drink a coffee with the last armenian family in Diyarbakir. The next door is a museum about a poet, and on the other corner, we enter a cultural center. In that quiet and peacefull place, we drink çay and wait. It’s the morning, and some old men should come. Here they are. They sit, start to play some instruments, and one of them start to sing. It’s an old kurdish man, and i cannot understand anything. According to the tradition, he should tell a story about his life. I don’t have to understand to be charmed.

We also spend time doing nothing, enjoying our time together, drinking çay, wine, coffee, beer, raki… depending on the time and the mood. I meet the « kahvalti », the gorgeous breakfast they serve in some specific restaurants. I also drink or eat some « stuff » i don’t even know what it is made with. Street food, the one every « touristic guides » will say « DO NOT EAT ».

According to the official french government’s website, all south-east region of Turkey must be avoided unless compelling reason. My reason is more than compelling.

Days pass, can’t stop them. I must leave. Until the next time.

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