We pick up pretty much where we left off, the morning at the ‘Mafia Hotel’. The day before I had slipped over and hit my camera on the floor, resulting in the lens not being recognised. Throughout my life of have complied my extensive wisdom to create the Problem Theory. I won’t get into the science behind, it as it is actually quite technical, but basically of you have a problem, ignore it and it will disappear!! In this dark hour I turned my back on the Theory out of sheer desperation, but the Theory hadn’t turned it a back on me, as when I switched on my camera at the shop to try and explain what the problem was, it worked perfectly!
We decided against the tour of the area from our host and instead headed north on our own. We stopped at some monuments built by King Commagene who, at the beginning of the millennium lost his wife and daughter. In their memory ten meter high columns were built on the side of hill while their bodies lay, still undiscovered, in the tumulus behind them. They stood peacefully side by side, surveying the high mountains and deep gorges they once ruled.
The next place we stopped at was the Cendere Bridge, or the Roman Bridge. What I found incredible was not the durability of its engineering, but the size of the gorge it lay within. This huge bridge was completely dwarfed by it. I thought of how once, millions of years ago, water, deeper than seas, would have filled this space, taking with it any rock or debris that dared stand in its way. To thousands of years ago when it proved an impossible obstacle to the Romans until they bridged the then shrunken river. To now, a relative trickle in the shadow of its former self, with no power or might, just the provision of an escape from the midday heat. I wondered how long it would be until it ran dry and all remnance of the force that shaped the landscape, lost.
We walked a little further upstream and found and area where the water was deep enough for the boys that were there to jump into the pool below. I immediately got in, fully clothed and swam into the current. I looked around I realised I was the only girl there, a few women held toddler’s hands in the shallows but none were actually swimming. After a while I decided I wanted to jump in. I swam over to rocks and one of the elder boys looked down, blocked my path upwards, and spoke to me in Turkish. A younger boy next to me translated: “he says it’s too dangerous.” I watched as two more of them dived, head first, into the pool. “Yeah okay!” And I climbed up past them and threw myself off the edge. Then again. And agian. And again.
We passed underneath the bridge as we were leaving and the family that were sitting there in the shade asked if we would like some tea. I said yes and we sat on the mat next to them. There was upper-midle aged couple, the wife of which appeared to be the matriarch. A man of similar age with a younger wife and four children, three of which played in the water while the tiniest, fourth sat on her lap. Sat closest to us was an elderly woman, the mother of the man. With no common language we sat there, sipping our tea grinning and laughing at each other. The man reached for the phone in his back pocket and after dialing and talking quickly, handed it to dad who was met by the voice of his brother; “he is wondering whether you want to eat.”
A silver bowl of meat was placed in front of us, then two large breads and cups that were filled with a thick, bitty yoghurt drink. Which was honestly, in my opinion, disgusting. But then more and more silver bowls were placed in front of us, piled high with fruits and vegetables, until the whole area in front of us was filled with food. It was way more than we could ever have eaten! The matriarch then pulled out a huge knife that cut through the watermelon as if it were butter, she over-filled a bowl for us before handing some to the rest of the family who sat, juice running down their chins, watching us eat. After trying to think up conversation topics with strangers whom we could not easily communicate with, I came up names! I introduced myself and dad and was met with slight frowns then understanding smiles as we learnt all their names. We then talked about how everyone was related and how my dad was my “Baba.” The youngest of the man’s daughters was brought over to translate but most of the time she sat there laughing at our attempts to communicate as we just smiled and gestured at each other. A picture was taken and I gave my camera to the matriarch and, after her approval, it was passed round for the rest of the group to see. It’s a precious picture, overexposed as we all smile into the sunlight. All to soon it was time for us to go, and we left them, the young wife playing with her youngest, making him squeal with laughter, the man talking to his friend next to him, children playing football behind them, the elderly mother fussing over dishes, and the matriarch waving back at us a we climbed up and out of sight.
When we finally reached Nemrut Daği We raced the almost-vertical six hundred metres to the mountain’s summit in time to watch the sunset. It was somewhere around the second hundred meter that I realised the depths of my unfitness, but we managed to get there in time. Nemrut Daği is special because it is the burial site of King Antiochus I from the 1st century BC. The top of mountain is perfectly rounded by a huge pile of pebbles which the body lies underneath. Much as the pharaohs couldn’t go down quietly neither could this King, as before he died he commissioned a giant statue of himself and his wife seated among the Gods and lions facing both the east and west so that they may watch over the sun’s rise and fall. The sunset was amazing, of course, it sunk into the layers of blue mountains as the orange lights from the towns below began to flicker on.
That evening I had the worst technical difficulties of my life. The hard drive on my computer was full so I moved every single photo I’ve taken since 2015 onto my external hard drive which then proceeded to glitch and became unlockable. Now all my photos are trapped. This all happened at around midnight as I was trying to post a blog, I then proceeded to freak out and cry for another hour before getting to sleep around 1.30, fully rested for the 3am sunrise alarm. Thankfully, when the sun rose above the mountains it was able to raise my spirits with it, and I sat sitting on a rock, surrounded by tourists jumping and taking pictures of themselves pinching the sun, with tears rolling down my face at the beauty of it all.