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Sunday, 01 September 2013

Batman, Turkey - Page 3

Written by Maria Estrella Aggabao
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The excitement turned high as if we strangers were going on a field trip to an amusement park. This “amusement park”, though, was built over 10,000 years ago. In the front seat next to the driver were 3 other passengers sitting shoulder to shoulder. Our driver turned on the gas, pumped up the air conditioner which seemed to be on the lowest possible setting. The air from the air conditioner barely touched me. I worried that I would have to breathe in hot air throughout the trip. The window to my right was open a crack. I couldn’t open it much more. I tapped the man in front of me to help give it a push, but he could not do much either. Off we went. 

 The Iphone man talked softly on his phone in Turkish. Some quickly fell asleep.  I tried to remain calm hoping I wouldn’t get claustrophic during the ride. 20 people were packed in the dolmu?. Some sat on stool-like chairs, some on people’s laps. Some remained standing. Some sat on wooden boxes covered with a thin pillow to help give relief to their cushy bottoms. Those box sitters sat directly facing the other passengers. There was one young boy on a box sitting directly in my view. He was traveling with his mother and baby brother. When I wasn’t looking out the window, I could see his innocent face. Sometimes he wrinkled his forehead and squinted his eyes when dust blew through the window into his eyes. Otherwsie, he sat there with a serious expression like a dutiful son enduring all the bumps on the road as his mother tenderly carried his baby brother. 

The wind blew gently though that tiny little window space and caressed my face. On numerous instances, I felt very slight traces of cool air from the air conditioner, along with dry air as we sped by other cars,  heat from the tires below my seat, mixing with my own body heat. I watched the colors-- mostly brown and green-- flash by. It was an open space of land. Incredible amounts of land and mountains. They were endless. At some point, I couldn’t tell the difference when one rugged mountain started and when one ended. It was as if a painter was using sand to build the mountains and the sand smoothly blended together. 

I asked the man next to me in my minimal Turkish to let me know when Hasankeyf was nearing.  I didn’t quite know what to expect after all. Would I see a sign that read “HOS GELDINIZ! WELCOME TO HASANKEYF!“ Not likely. What I did notice was that I started to feel the landscape changing. The land became more and more alive and vibrant as we drove on the long, dusty road.  Images would magically appear. I closed my eyes to squeeze in a one-minute nap and then opened them only to see a long stream of water. This water was the Tigris River.  I followed its path never taking my eyes off it. Its sharp, shapely, discolored beauty never aged one moment from the day it was created. The land and the mountains seemed to whisper to follow the water and I would find what I was looking for.

 The bus drove over a small bridge and to its right and left appeared ancient dwellings, caves, towers, and historic monuments. I lost my place. This was not Istanbul. This was not my hometown. I looked in wonder at these ancient works of art that blew away any skyscraper that marveled in any modern city and stunned any city dweller.  The view was even more majestic as I gazed through the tiny dolmu? window trying to capture every angle possible. How small we were, I thought, and how spectacular a gift the ancient people and Mother Earth left as a souvenir for us. 

The van stopped and unloaded passengers. The Iphone man stopped talking on his phone for a minute and smiled at me and pointed. This was Hasankeyf.  I stood there and just looked around me. On that morning the first day of July of that year, my eyes saw a jewel. For a moment I did not feel that it was likely 110 degrees.  

Not 30 minutes ago I was walking, sitting, waiting, enduring so-called unbearable conditions and minor irritations. We deal with those moments on a daily basis most of our lives. Those minute and what some consider insignificant moments in the beginning of the journey are there to get you where you’re supposed to go. To live through them and arrive in the middle is all part of the journey.  And even on that extremely scorching July day, as soon as I arrived in that glorious place, I knew it was time to play and explore the even more extreme splendor. 

Maria Estrella Aggabao 2013 

© Maria Estrella Aggabao


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Last modified on Sunday, 01 September 2013

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