Mardin

October 3

On the plane from Izmir to Mardin, where temperatures promise to be in the 90’s, and dry.  The flight instructional video was very effective, as it featured child actors in all parts, including pilot.  Hysterical (although we Americans were the only ones laughing), with some subtexts: children are the future, children are really in charge, nobody’s in charge, if you love your children you will follow these instructions, children are cute when put in adult roles, we might as well be flying with this kid as the pilot, for all the control we have in these matters (inshallah). The woman next to me prayed as we took off.  I’ll go with that insurance.

Airplane iPad chat with my neighbor
– kizim mardinde okulda ingilizce ogretmeni (I teach English to girls in Mardin-hmmm)
– ben isim kutuphanede. I work in a library. (I work in a library)
-o isir restaurantde. (He works in a restaurant, referring to the konked-out Larry)
-benim adim asiye  tanistigima memnun oldum  (My name is Ayse, it is a pleasure to meet you
-benim adim paysi patience (my name is Paci, spelled in Turkish pronunciation, then I tried explain patience, probably lost in translation)
– mardinde kalacakmisiniz (you can sleep in Mardin-what was she trying to tell me?))

-sizin ogrencilar nasil yillp? (trying to ask how old her students are)
 8 yillik? 10? (they are 10 years old)
– ogrenmek Turkce cok is zor. (to learn Turkish is hard)
Bu kitap butun kelimelar ir yok lazi. (this book doesn’t have all of the words I need)

Time to buckle up, approaching Mardin.

Oh my, Mardin. Ancient town on the side of a mountain, trading place on the Silk Road, confluence of multiple cultures: Assyrian, Aramaic, Jewish, Muslim, Kurdish and more.  In recent history, the area of contention between the PKK and the Turkish  government, but it survived. Today it appears to be thriving, with lots of shops in a very busy bazaar.  The surrounding mountains are rocky and arid; below us, almost directly, stretches the Mesopotamian plain, flat and fertile into the hazy distance. Syria is about 17 miles away, but we face no danger.  About 240 kilometeres away, the Turkish government has bombed Syria in retaliation for a  strike against Turkey.  Whether this is a stirring up of Kurdish/Turkish antagonism I do not know: bilmiyorum.   Extracting this information is more than I care to do.  We are safe.  Turkey may be on the brink, however.

Looking out at the Mesopotamian Plain
from the top level of our hotel

Umu Camii

Sahmeran, the Snake Goddess
Stairs to the next level
Street repair

The town is built of a soft sandy-colored limestone, that lends itself beautifully to stonework.  Everywhere there is carving: doorways, windows, rooflines, wall facades.
The main street is undergoing major infrastructural renovation, and is all torn up.  They are laying new cobbles and curbs and drain pipes, all the while business is being conducted in the shops, and men delivering trays of teas, among the piles of sand and stone and dust.

We wandered through the bazaar, inspecting the mundane goods, foods, and spices. Little stores tucked under eaves, into corners, up and down stairs. Bought magenta underpants, two notebooks, some rustic wooden spoons, and various spices.  I’m going to see if painting with henna works.

a forge

Dried eggplant and peppers for dolmas

Dried okra

Henna in bulk

Our lunch

After a refreshing pomegranate and orange juice, Clare, Kathy, Larry, Lois & I found our way to Cercis, a lovely restaurant in an old Syrian home. The food was awesome, different from the fare we’ve been eating.  The five of us split a meze platter of scoops of hummus, a chickpea yogurt sumac dip, a carrot spread, smoked eggplant, a cheese yogurt dip, and a few others, follwed by a pomegranate salad, and a walnut bulgur salad, stuffed stewed onions, and desserts of baked pekmez  and a semolina halvah, both with chocolate ice cream.  It was yum.  Then turkish coffee was served in covered dishes sitting on velvet rings, giving the impression of silver turbans. Then back to the hotel for a siesta.

Tonight we will wander more, eat more, pack up. Tomorrow we fly from Diyabikir to Istanbul.