(9) Savur, Turkey: I’m stuffed

Getting out of Göreme was a bit of a pain. The local bus companies have a monopoly on long distance travel – they won’t sell you a ticket to the next main town an hour away, from where you can get a ticket anywhere. Instead you have to buy a long distance ticket, which takes you to the next main town and you have to change buses anyways. Sigh.

I got as far as Diyarbakir by about 8 in the morning, and took a (damned expensive) taxi to the minibus station to get to a small town of Savur. Savur has nothing of note to see in particular – it’s just a nice small village set on the side of a hill, which one main accommodation option set in an old, traditional home. My plan was to spend just one night, but it wasn’t long before I opted for two.

The drive there was lovely. Leaving Diyarbakir I passed two main things of note: a street-side tomb purchasing market, and fields of poppies. The area is dry, but I’m often surprised by lush pockets of green, and blankets of poppies interspersed among the matchstick grasses.

On the way there, the minibus got pulled over. Everyone’s papers are checked, mine included. It’s a Kurdish area and there are some security concerns, but nothing big. The police guy keeps asking me a question, something like “An la?” I respond back with “An la?” We don’t get very far. Eventually he gives up and we continue on.

I arrive at the guesthouse, and have a bit of a siesta. It’s much warmer here than Göreme, and the heat has got to me. I’m hooked on a book and pass in and out of sleep.

Before the sun begins to go down, I set out for a walk around the village. I motion to the house mother that I’m going for a walk (fingers make walking motion) and to eat (hand to mouth motion). She motions to indication that a meal is included at the guest house, but I’m not sure if it’s dinner or breakfast. I head out with plans to eat something light so that I’m ready for either possibility.

Today must be carpet washing day. It seems every home has a dripping wet carpet hung over balcony railings. I spot two young girls above me working a carpet and I ask to take a picture. Soon enough they ask me “Come, café?” and I head to their home for some god-awful coffee.

The two sisters are soon joined by 4 other girls. With our basic knowledge of each others’ languages, we determine ages and marital status, and I learn that at least two of them have boyfriends, even one girl who is 12. Apparently her boyfriend is 11. Robbing the cradle it seems.

They take turns arranging themselves for photos, sharing their English school workbooks with me, and whispiggling (a word I just made up that describes a combination of whispering and giggling). Apparently they think I can understand them so sometimes keep their voices low. They run in and out of the room in pairs or alone or all together, leaving me to push down the coffee. They take turns getting their pictures taken, and by the time I leave, they’ve had a full on photo shoot it seems. I get their email addresses and head back out to explore the town.

The children here seem to have picked up some lovely habits when passing by travellers in the street. Clean, well dressed, well fed children stick their hands out and ask for money. I talk to the guest house owner later and he seems to think that these children must have spent time in Mardin, the larger and more travelled version of Savur two hours away. These children aren’t from Savur, apparently.

I wander around the town a bit further as the sun sets. I poke my head into a few eating spot-looking places, where I get the stare down from the men that exclusively eat or (more likely) drink tea there. I end up back at the guest house starving, with plans to eat one of my few remaining protein bars that I brought with me on the trip.

However, apparently dinner was included, and after half an hour of photos on the rooftop, a huge spread is laid out for me. Zucchini in a lovely garlic yogurt sauce and a variety of veggie and meat stews and kabobs. I think the meal is meant for four, as I barely make a dent. Good thing I didn’t stop for food in the village.

The next morning, I find that breakfast is included too, and am served a standard Turkish breakfast – sliced cucumber and tomatoe, bread with a selection of cheese, honey, jam and butter, and a hardboiled egg. At points on this trip I make a note to have more breakfasts like this when I go back to Canada. But really, who I am kidding. 1) I’m getting near vegan, so most of the ingredients won’t fly; and even more of a reason: 2) Too much work in the morning.

I eat leisurely and eventually head out for a walk up above the village. I don’t know how I manage to do this, but I often end up heading up on adventures in the hottest heat of the day. I get up to the top of a ridge, and find a quite place in the shade of a small bush. I enjoy the view and take time to think (and continuously wipe the sweat from my face). I take a different route down, trying not to disturb the horses, donkey, cows, sheep and goats that seem to be getting along well together along the route. Back in Savur I explore the village once more, and get back to the guest house for a well deserved (as I reason anyway) siesta.

One of the things I do is arrange some information that I need for my next destination: northern Iraq. It’s not a destination I originally planned on, but after speaking with some others who have been there, and reading some online forums, the Kurdish region of Iraq seems like a safe and interesting choice. I mean, really, who wouldn’t want to say they’ve been to Iraq? At first I was just thinking I’d hop across the border, spend a night and come back, but after a bit more research I plan to spend a few days. I don’t have a guidebook, but enough information and rough maps from websites and forums that allow me the basics I need.

The spread for dinner that night was smaller, but just as tasty. I sneak into the kitchen to see what was cooking, and they explain a soup on the stove. There’s no direct translation for what the soup is made up of, but the main ingredient translates to  “a paste of yogurt and flour”. The result is much tastier than it sounds, and with that and the rest of the offerings, I head to bed absolutely stuffed. This seems to be a trend on this trip.

I wake up early for an 8am dolmus to Midyat, from where I’ll get to the Iraqi border. Another leisurely breakfast is followed by a prayer bead bracelet from the guesthouse owner as I wait for the dolmus. My first Turkey souvenir.