Kurdistan (not in Irak, but the Kurdish Areas in Turkey)

Bitlis (Turkey), 01.05.2013

One day you’re lucky, some other day you’re less so. Tonight we dream about our camping site under the stars at the foot of Mount Nemrut. We arrived in Bitlis because we couldn’t find a place to camp in the mountains west of lake Van. There is construction everywhere, and military camps in every town and in between towns also sometimes. The atmosphere doesn’t feel like sleeping outdoors. So we opted for the only hotel in a shabby mountain town, with run down concrete buildings and only men on the streets and shops. No dinner tonight, we’re exhausted and a glass of white wine we brought all the way from Comporta (Portugal) will do for tonight.

But let’s look at the bright side of things. This morning we woke up at 05:50, without any alarms, all by ourselves, or better by the wind and the light in the valley before sunrise. Our good morning coffee was the best since we took off, the moka from Rome that has been with us in Berlin, New York and Madrid is also in our equipment on this trip, to provide good italian espresso as long as we have coffee in our supplies. Open air breakfast with the birds singing around you is “la leche” (spanish for super great). We had leche (milk) with us too, thanks to the car fridge Helena received as a farewell present from her colleagues at Buljan. Thanks a lot!!

After a very slow breakfast came a very slow packing session, a quick tent dismounting and a speed shower. Then we went to see the ruins and caves that we learned were in the area. What a surprise to find what seemed to have been a whole temple complex or town in Arsameia. Walking up the hill behind our camping site’s cafeteria there is a path to reach several huge stone plates picturing warrior kings and gods, ruins of what must have been temples and buildings, caves, inscriptions in an ancient language. You can also see a ruin of a castle or city on another mountain, we didn’t make it to discover this one too.

DSC_0007 DSC_0011After an hour of discovering the sun was shining already quite strong and we had a second breakfast in the cafeteria: a coban salad (consisting of tomato, cucumber, peppers, onion) with olives and lemon, goat cheese and flat bread from the nearby village, as well as goat ayran also from the goats of the village. After eating we had a chat with the guy who runs this place. Yunus had already been very friendly the night before in welcoming us, showing us the facilities and cooking a simple but great dinner, including our first Menemen (mmm!). He explained us that the area is already part of Kurdish territory, he himself is a Kurd. We spoke about the Kurdish situation in Turkey, comparing it with the Catalans, Basks and Galicians in Spain. That Yunus spoke fluent english was a gift, since we can barely speak to anybody in Turkey on the countryside and would love to discover more about the people. It’s a tough job running a cafeteria-restaurant-camping site-gift shop in the mountains here. We didn’t find this place in our Lonely Planet, but can only recommend everybody to come here. Both for the friendly people as well as the great views. This part of mount Nemrut is the more beautiful one.

DSC_0033We bought some more of the cheese we ate for breakfast, and some bread, and took off. The rest of the day we spent driving towards lake Van, through Kurdistan at up to 29 degrees. Since after approx 30km the road was flooded by the Atatürk dam reservoir, we had to take a ferry boat. Waiting and the ferry crossing costed us an hour, and we couldn’t make it to lake Van since it got dark earlier. Tomorrow we’ll tour the lake and head further eastwards, in our last full day in Turkey.

Trip data (Day/Total)

– Km driven: 395/7.158

– Hrs driving: 7/-

– Diesel l/100km: 9,0/10,1

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