Puking in Diyarbakir and Nemrut Dag

Statues of gods and the pyramid-like tomb-sanc...
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Now it was time to head north to Diyarbakir. I was pissed at Isik for having sung Mardin folksongs the whole time we were around the region; now as we were approaching the oil wells of Batman, it was payback time: over and over: “Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo BAT-MAN!” After the merriment passed, as Kadri was trying to see if the car would fly us to Diyarbakir at warp speed before PKK time travelers could arrive to catch us, I started to feel not well at all. They passed me a bag, and I breathed in and out of it, in and out, and when we arrived at the hotel in Diyarbakir, I staggered through their lobby, found their toilet, squatted (even the lobby had a Turkish toilet) and probably flooded Hasankeyf all by myself. I was unable to puke, unable to walk, and they drove me to the hospital, where I tried to get into the elevator but could not, found the toilet in their lobby, squatted, and left the rest of my insides there for good measure. I had sweat through my shirt in the process, removed it, and made my way upstairs, under Kadri and Elif’s arms, and the doctor told me I had tyfo, which is not typhus or typhoid but something else, something I didn’t understand, but I knew exactly what it was, knew that he was wrong, and I got a cup and gave another stool sample, a porn star in my ability to deliver the goods on demand. The aide came in, gave me a knowing wink, and announced that my old friends E. Hystolitica had again found a happy home in my intestines. They put me on serum and some anti-nausea drug, and the serum was too strong, or started to panic, but in any case, under the drip, I started to freak out after awhile. I got hyper and started yelling and banging my head like at a heavy metal concert, and Elif convinced the doctor to add some downers to the drip, which he was at first loathe to do but indeed did, and I felt mighty fine after that.

I laid back with the drip in my arm and heard a nice new aide, fourth day on the job, tell Elif that even though I’m an American (I think screaming in English was the giveaway), “we don’t like Americans,” and Elif tried to be civil, saying that a government’s actions don’t always reflect its citizens, and its citizens don’t really know or need to know or give a fig that Apache Longbows are stopping people like him from seceding from a country six thousand miles away, especially when there’s Reality Television on, but when he extended it to saying it was all the Jews’ fault, Elif gave up. Kadri was able to yell at the guy when paying, as the guy tried to get the full price of $16 rather than the discount of $12 from us, and Kadri made a big shame on him for trying to charge us more than promised, etc., but we were not liking Diyarbakir one bit.

The hotel was dirty, the hotel was gross, but the hotel was home, and when they left it to walk around Diyarbakir the next morning, I was not about to join them; my usual phobia of missing out on anything was nowhere to be seen, there was only my pillow. They came back an hour later, angry and wanting to bust town: unlike Urfa, although they all talked in Arabic and Kurdish on the streets, no Turkish, everyone gave them filthy looks and told Elif she’d burn in hell if she’d go into the mosque dressed like that, and she wasn’t at all provocatively dressed. So they saw some buildings from the outside, packed me in the car, and headed toward Nemrut Dag.

We drove the better part of an hour way up the 2 km summit; the whole road was cobblestoned. On the way, we were stopped by a gendarme: can you please bring up these food supplies to my men at the top? Sure… but can Brian use your bathroom? And in a violation of every policy, I got to see the inside of a gendarme station, which was very unspectacular, but their (Turkish squat) toilet was (before I used it) very, very clean.

When we reached the top, there was a storm and it was like 40 degrees Fahrenheit, drizzling, and there was no way I was going to leave the car. They hiked up while I slept in the passengers seat. We got a hotel nearby.

The next morning, they took me back, it was much warmer, and I was able to hike up with them. Nemrut Dag is a silly but terribly wonderful site, with lots of massive stone heads adorning the temple and tomb of the great king Antiochus. Antiochus I ruled from 64-38BC and the son of Mithridates (whom Mozart did an opera on); he founded the Commagene kingdom, and it was some rinky-dink empire, covering from Adiyaman all the way to Gaziantep. His main accomplishment was to hold off the Romans from the territory for awhile. At some point, he decided he was a god, claiming descent from Darius the Great of Persia and Alexander the Great, but when he sided with the Parthians against Rome and was deposed, and the Romans took the territory, end of the great Commagene kingdom and end of story – but he left behind a massive funerary ode to himself. After hiking up, we came to the eastern temple with 6 decapitated seated statues and heads all over the place; we then walked around to the west and there’s more of the same, plus lots of reliefs; a lion has an astrological chart on it signifying something. When you look at them left to right, Elif pointed out the Lion, Eagle, Antiochus, Commagene (female), Zeus (authoritarian and bearded), Apollo, Heracles (bearded like Zeus but a bit younger), another Eagle, and another Lion; but our guidebook says it’s Apollo, Fortuna, Zeus, Antiochus, and Hercules. Me? I trust Elif.

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