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Sheladize to Diyana


Next morning, Khater sorted me out with a taxi, whereupon I had agreed 13,000 to Barzan only for it to be mystifyingly turned into 15,000 all the way to Diyana, 3 times the distance. Of course I had had to explain my presence in rather succinct terms to Khater and it was the best I could come up with to explain that I was helping Ant in Dohuk research Kurdistan and construct a website on it. Not too far from the truth anyhow I hoped, I was certainly blazing a trail that many would follow I considered, and Ant had such a project in mind. I was also able to explain the work that Ant did with Diakonia and so obviously I was going to endear myself to people who had long known only suppression and few friends. In a town the size of Sheladize such news travelled fast and so I was assured the royal treatment by the taxi driver even though this time we had no common tongue save my paltry few words of Kurdish. Nonetheless, knowing that I wanted to visit Barzan for a reason, the boys in the taxi went out of their way to accommodate me and were probably happy to do so. Merely a village, Barzan had become known as one of the seats of Kurdish nationalism, the birthplace of their pan-Kurdish spiritual leader Mala Mustafa Barzani who now lies buried here alongside his right hand man Idris. We arrived to be invited for tea with some guys who were working on the construction of a memorial centre here, it is clearly destined to become a great pilgrimage site for Kurds the world over. For now though only very simple graves with no inscriptions, surrounded by a low dry stone wall. The guys paid hommage in the Islamic manner of ritually dry washing the face. Nearby sat a tiny booth from which a visitors book was produced and I was invited to add my thoughts. Needless to say, mine was the only entry in English! There were a surprising number in Turkish however.

Soon afterwards, we made a rapid switchback descent and surprisingly there was a prominent sign for the Ven Hotel in an undisclosed hamlet. A major river joined us and the road became cut into the side of the valley as a gorge developed. Abruptly we turned off north away from the river and climbed back up another switchback to take us into really dramatic gorge scenery for perhaps 10Ks. It seemed to end suddenly as we met a T junction at an isolated petrol station and turned right into Mergasur which was unremarkable except for its incongruously large bank branch backed by a big snowy mountain. Left turn after Mergasur and the mountains began to approach us, finally crossing the river again at tiny Rowanduz, a name synonymous with more gorge scenery. I was pleased to see Diyana appear thereafter a suitably substantial town but straight out of the taxi one of the touts managed in English " hotel fall down" and I felt numb. Fortunately however there was another to be had, the Binazir Hotel lay just a few hundred yards away, deserted and freezing. There wasnt really anything to do in Diyana but the scenery certainly made up for the lack of sights. Nearby I found the Sarawaran Mosque, notable if nothing else for its sign in English. I wandered out to the city limits just to see what was what and came across a wedding being held in what appeared to be a tiny shop unit, gallons of benzene being sold in plastic jerry cans by the roadside and fantastic mountain vistas. There was even an observatory on one of the summits. No street lighting in Diyana and the lecky failed completely at 9, I treated myself at the one decent restaurant in town and walked back in the dark to savour my one tin of Efes smuggled in from Dohuk.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Iraq

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