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Midyat to Iraq


Upon making my way back to old Midyat and dumping my bags at the Otogar, it didnt take long to amble around the backstreets of the nearby old town. What was remarkable about Midyat over and above the lovely honey-coloured masonary was the plethora of church spires which dotted the horizon, there were allegedly 9 in all in this small town and they seemed to outrank the mosques. It was difficult to get anywhere near most of them however let alone visit them, hidden as they were amidst the rabbits warren of narrow streets, and even the local kids were too busy being a pain in the arse to be of much help. The wee beggars must have called me Abi (big brother) a thousand times with their hands held out, it was just one more thing I was going to have to get used to! It was amazing that like Mardin this likeable place had not been discovered as yet by rank and file tourism, I pitied the day that it happened, the kids were destined to become the sharks of tommorrow and the town would lose the very essence of its appeal. I stumbled upon a couple of the churches eventually, one of which just happened to be open and I was invited in through the 4ft high thick wooden door to see it by the local honcho. He had a fair bit of English and explained that the Christian population was repressed as it had always been, there were now only 80 families in the locality and only 4 of the churches still held services. Not what I had expected to hear in secular Turkey.

After an interminable wait during which I thought the locals had let me down, I was eventually beckoned out onto the roadside by a boy with bad teeth and dubious intellect, only to see the express Silopi service I had waited ages for materialise instantly. I shook the half wits hand sincerely, he knew something after all. There was standing room only but they let me on all the same, and it was more amusing than deflating to have a 20 minute tea stop almost immediately just a K down the road. More good natured people vied amongst themselves for my attentions. There was more fine scenery with mountain ranges to the north and pastoral steppe to the south. Some of the older locals pointed out abandoned villages and made it clear they had once been their homes, probably where they were born I imagined. I could only surmise that it had been government intervention as a result of PKK activity, the repression of the Kurds. A sizeable river then joined us to the south and not just any river, this was the legendary Tigris which for a short while formed the border with Syria here. The town of Cizre materialised larger and busier than I had expected and likewise did Silopi at the end of the line. Silopi was off the map as far as my guidebook was concerned and I was now living on my wits.

I was on my way to Iraq, and Silopi was the last town before the border. It had been a deliberate move to take the Express minibus from Midyat rather than make my way to the border in stages by dolmus, it had been an unexpected bonus that it existed at all. I reckoned that way surely someone else had to be heading for the border and I could tag along, certainly share the taxi fare if nothing else. As luck would have it there was just one other guy heading my way, a young guy who I had incredibly eventually found a seat next to by chance. With no common tongue it was all I could understand that he was returning to Arbil from Finland of all places, it was unfortunately beyond me to explain my Finnish connection or indeed ascertain his. Straight off the bus and we were hit upon by the taxi sharks, fortunately for me with the local guy taking all the rap amidst animated argument over prices. It turned out we struck a remarkably good deal compared to what I had expected, only 15 Turkish Lira each (about a fiver) and that would take us the 8K to the border and right through all the bureaucracy to the other side. Another boy joined us and I was so glad not to be doing this alone.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Turkey

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