We had long wanted to enter the Kurdistan, this country which until recently saying its name was considered a crime.
We´ve been longing to come into Kurdistan, this country which, not long ago, was
“I know of a man” our friend Hasan told us “who was arrested for whistling a traditional kurdish song”. And here, most of the times, being arrested means being beaten,. The nonsense has come that far on this land.
Obviously they are different people, their customs are different and they even have away to treat each other that´s distinctive. This is a much poorer population ( although under their feet there are huge amounts of uranium and oil) who lives most of the time in the fields and for whom finding a job means having to travel to the West or having to escape to Europe, because here….there´s nothing.
Whislt Turkey gets richer and richer Kurdish people have to put up with the crumbs. But even such a little change is quite noticeable if we compare their current situation to the one ten years ago.
On this land of sweat and heat, the gas stations have acted as “karavanserais” for these two travellers. Oasis where we´ve slept most of the days, where we´ve been provisioned with fresh wáter, hot tea, shade, conversation, and even dinner and shower on some of them. Gas stations have been places to socialize (together with the tea rooms) at midday when the burning sun has no mercy on those who dare going out.
When it´s this hot, one has to change timetables, get up as early as possible, and before the sun rises we must be pedaling in a world that seems more friendly, cosier and sweeter on early hours of the day. At about midday it seems like the asfalt begins to stick to the wheels, and that´s a sign that´s time to stop. Food, “siesta”….hours to fill up while we wait (and sweat) for the temperature to low down so we can get back to our job; all we can do is to search for the coolest corner and dream about a wonderful piece of watermelon, the luxuryof aswimming pool or something as simple as being allowed to take our t-shirt or pants off….an unthinkable act here.
We´ve found this land more conservative than Turquey when it comes to religion, which has meant encounters with women have been very limited. And some social pressures of different kind have increased but, with patiente and sense of humour made it more bearable, even though at some point it´s nearly taken us to lose our nerves ( this is probably the hardest part for us to face, since we´ve grown up in a much more permisive culture).
Another “something” that´s changed is the children. The fact of families having 5, 6 or even 10 children, leads them to be brought up on the streets, among themselves, and that makes them very lively, awake and even wild! Peeking a group of 3 or 4 standing next to the road means generally trouble…but with a good shout at them and the wooden stick we use to hold the bike….all comes back to normality….magically….( more than a stick it seems to be a wand that tames children and dogs by just holding it up).
Everytime we´ve found an English speaker we´ve been very curious and we´ve asked them many questions about the Kurdish-Turkish conflicto, and if we´ve learned something new is how much we get manipulated by the media, and that the real world has nothing to do with the one we are told.
When we left Urfa we headed for the place which made us take this journey so much to the South: “Goblekitepe”. The oldest temple of the history of Humanity, dated 12000 years ago. It was discovered in the 90´s and it´s being excavated by Germans and Turks, who have managed to expose so far only 1 per cent of this magical place that´s rewriting the history of Humanity.
We continue our journey, climbing up to the mountains to stay up there this time, near the Van lake, where above 1500 mts the temperature cools down, we find fresh air under the shades, the sun appears more friendly and the greenery nourishes our souls and spirits, still warm. There are neither ruins nor history up here but believe it or not, there´s still some snow on the summit of the mountains surrounding the lake that´s been going along with us for the past days and it´s been its natural beauty what again has caused a big impact on us.
We are leaving them behind since we´re a day and a half from the Iranian border. These Kurdish lands that once were the Mesopotamia from the books, this area of the world where among Irak, Iran, Syria and Turkey we find a country whose borders are never clear…this community that´s been massacred, attacked, silenced and battered from the early days and nobody knows why.