Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

So there I was, enjoying the sights (and sounds) of the old city of Mardin all day until late afternoon, almost nightfall.

I felt exhausted but elated to have seen most of the sights on my list (I photographed sights map at the stairs of Mardin Museum).  I hailed the blue bus at the old city to the modern city of Mardin below.  Along the way, it suddenly occurred to me that it’s winter and I was stupid enough to have not bothered to find out the schedule of the last dolmush (public transport van) that goes back to Midyat where my hotel accommodation was.

Arriving at the modern city, I asked a couple of shops where is dolmush that plies back to Midyat, and as usual, the lost in translation thing.  It’s difficult to ask people around, my communication is limited to very few Turkish words so it’s mostly hand gestures (plus my compulsory smiles).  I waited for almost an hour walking to and fro along the stretch of the main highway and no dolmush is passing by.   The late night crowd is thinning, it’s getting dark and cold, I was only wearing a flimsy sweatshirt. 

Dolmush (public van transport) plying Midyat - Mardin route.

Then in front of the Bilem Hotel (where I thought about spending the night in Mardin, just in case)  a seemingly friendly guy told me that there’s no more public transport that time of the day (or night) that goes back to Midyat, which is true.  I asked the “friendly guy” who apparently is the driver of the taxi parked nearby how much is the taxi fare from Mardin to Midyat and he said TL80, way too expensive I said, then it went down to 75, and then peering inside his dark taxi I saw a shadow of another man at the back seat and I suddenly felt unsafe.

I was thinking of a scam or robbery in the making or worst – murder.  I am never panicky during travels.  Perhaps the cold weather is getting into me, my brain goes reasonably irrational, I was exhausted and anxious but still thought about taking precautions.

I walked away but the guy kept following me and assuring me there’s “no problem” but my skeptical brain says "problem!" I firmly said no and walked fast several meters away to the gasoline station where there are couple of people and the lighting is good.  

The modern Mardin.

After a couple of minutes, I hailed the first taxi that I found, asking me for TL70 all the way to the 45-minute drive to Midyat. I jumped in and we fled our way traversing the dark road, every so often trying to strike a conversation with the driver, just to reassure myself I was on a safe ride. Luckily he speaks Arabic, and I do learned a lot of the language.

We arrive in Midyat but the problem was, it’s night time so I can't figure out the location of my hotel and he pretended too (I think) not to know.  So he dropped me off at the intersection where there are a couple of restaurants, the yellow lights did not help much with my reckoning of the place, it was difficult to know exactly where I am.

I kept on walking and searching and alas there’s this middle-aged man whom I asked and I remember the hotel card on my wallet so I handed it to him.  I've totally forgotten about it during my panic moments.  He told me it’s about 5 kilometers away.  So I said I’ll take a taxi, then he motioned his hand for me to wait.  Two small kids came rushing gazing up at me cheerfully, and before I knew it, I was sitting with them (his two children) on their car on my way to the hotel.

Aaah, that was a relief!

Arriving at the reception of the hotel, I sensed worries from the faces and gestures of the staff.  They had a brief moment of chat with the family who dropped me off and I said my "Tessekuler" (Thanks) to them, and we bade our goodbyes.

People in Midyat truly are hospitable and friendly, forget about getting lost in translation, at the end of the day there is always a form of communication that everyone understands.

Now, off to Hasankeyf the next day.

The ribbed dome of Ulu Camii.


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