I had asked the previous day what time the dolmus to Hakkari was, there was only one according to the book. The boy wrote down 8-8.30 and so I arrived in time for 8 to find it already gone, left guessing if there would be another one that day or not. Thankfully it all became clear when another one left with me aboard at half 8, phew! It was only 179Ks to Hakkari but such was the terrain it would take me the main part of the day to cover it. The onset of army checkpoints became intense here, with a stop on average every 10Ks and every other population centre of any size having an army presence. A commando base overlooking the road was stocked with APCs and had its howitzers pointed at nearby Iraq in fortified positions. The rugged mountains here sometimes closed in to become spectacular gorges. At another army base soldiers lay firing at a rifle range, in the next village there was a wedding in progress where the men danced together in one long line with arms over shoulders, the girls in bright coloured dresses looked on from afar. Then there was a major checkpoint at a T junction where the road crossed a river, with one bridge built by the Turks and another adjacent one by Saddam. The locals told me that Iraq was right there on the other side of the river. It was a long thorough check this time, a process not speeded up by the unexpected foreigner, and they took some convincing I was not a junkie when they found my syringe. Being that it was a tad difficult to explain cross transmission of blood diseases in Turkish, I resorted to my mini dictionary which fortunately had the phrase "For Emergency Use" in it. I just hoped that the translation was in good context and did not say 'Break Glass" or something similar! There was snow now in the shadows of the gorges and the guy drove like a madman on the snaky road, I was sure all 4 wheels took off at one point. Then in another village we stopped to load, or rather overload, the minibus roof with what appeared to be thousands of T-Shirts. Then after a quick phone call they promptly threw them all off again, obviously the deal was off! What a palaver. It was during this fiasco that a young Kurdish woman on the bus had asked me where I was going, most forward and I was surprised she had the audacity to speak to a strange man let alone a foreigner. The mountains here were fantastic, the north facing slopes peppered with snow, the others golden brown against a perfect blue sky. I had barely seen a cloud in a fortnight, there must be rain shadow here. We then had an abrupt climb up to a pass at 2080 metres, surrounded by peaks much higher still. There was the ubiquitous army base here as ever, a very difficult place to police and the driver just held onto my passport such was the frequency of the stops, there must have been a dozen checkpoints or more.
I didnt know that the dolmus was actually going to Yuksekova and so it dropped me 5Ks short of Hakkari at the junction. Another old boy shepherded me into town and showed me the way to the hotel, I had paid his meagre 1YTL fare so it was fare enough! I wasnt sure whether to speak Turkish or Kurdish here, and upon questioning the receptionist guy said Turk rather heavily. I didnt know whether he was playing it safe with a suspicious foreigner or was a Turk who resented Kurdish! That night I got my life in order by burning photos, sanitising my gear for Iranian approval (the dolly bird picture had to go) and drank my last beer for a month. What was I going to do when the sun went down?