Turkey

A little paradise

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Small report of 3 days in the crater. (non literary text, just my journal for memory…)

I had heard about Nemrut Gölü, a volcanic crater near Lake Van. I decide to go there and why not, spend a night there. The climb is steep but without difficulty (except to find the road that leads to it). It overlooks the immense lake VAN. At first sight, the place seems magnificent but not conducive to bivouac: too exposed and especially too windy. Arrived on the heights, I take some photographs then I question myself: what to do? the night will not be long. Maybe it would be wise to turn around and find a quiet place. I decide to continue nevertheless, at least until the pass which will allow me to see this famous crater. I resume my ascension and suddenly, there he is, before me, immense, majestic. I look at him for a moment, breathless. I didn’t expect it to be so big, nor did I expect its walls to be so high. No dwelling appears to have damaged the site. It is just there, wild, with only this little road that sinks into its bosom. It has two lakes: one immense, crystalline blue, with rather cool waters, and a second, smaller, emerald green, naturally heated by the gaseous fumes of the volcano. But at the time, I still don’t know. How far does this road that winds in front of me go? As I often say: the only way to find out is to go. So I set out to follow her. Initially, it dominates the large lake, then moves away from it and then begins a descent in the middle of a small forest. At the bend of a bend, the second lake reveals itself to me. On the other bank, in the distance, I see a small stone hut, as well as, it seems to me, two tents. The road completely bypasses the lake. We can’t get here quietly!
When I got there, I was surprised to find Wolfgang, an unlikely German biker, riding a diesel bike half his size. We had met in Cappadocia. There’s also Mimar, a young Kurd, a lawyer and a philosophy buff. In fact, when we greet each other, he holds one of Nietzsche’s books in his hand. Finally there is Fevzi, a second Kurd, who owns the small stone hut, which serves as a bistro for people passing through the weekend. This is the only construction of the crater.

The first evening was spent discussing philosophy and astronomy with Mimar. Then we go to bed. In the night, I hear an animal roaming by my tent. The hoarse and powerful breath, hardly leaves me doubt: it is a bear. Fevsi confirms to me the next day that they are numerous in the crater. It’s best not to keep food in the tent with you!
Wolfang, who’s been here for three days, leaves at dawn. Later that morning, an armored vehicle stopped in front of the cabin. Six or seven armed men come down. I learn that this day is going to take place a festival on the banks of the big lake a little further. For the occasion, officials are expected and soldiers are there to ensure their safety. After the usual tea, they post themselves in various strategic places: an FM at the top of a small rocky promontory dominating the road, and the armoured hidden a little further away. The radio dialogues make me understand that other armoured vehicles are positioned further upstream in the crater. I thus decide to postpone the small tour of crater by tracks which I had spotted the evening, with the following day.
The festival goes well child, and family: people come with their picnic and the necessary to make tea and make BBQs here and there in the forest. I’m invited by a family at noon. Later, with Mimar, we put the inflatable canoe, which he has just bought, in the water and set out to go around the lake.
At the end of the afternoon, I talk with a man. Suddenly he asks me a question I don’t understand. He then lifts his sweet and shows me the caliber hidden underneath. Am I armed ? I’m speechless. No, no, I don’t have a gun why? Suspicious, I detail the man. 30s, athletic, short hair. He reminds me of a military man in civilian clothes. That’s how I feel when a group of armed men arrive. They surrounded two other men: the first was a general, and the second was the prefect of the region. They’re coming for tea. The young man I was talking to was part of his Praetorian guard. I understand then that he was only there to question me and to know who I was before the arrival of these two important characters.
Around 6 pm the festival ends and the crater is emptied little by little. A little later, we see 5 black vehicles with tinted windows going around the lake and heading towards us. It reminds me of an American movie scene.

Men come down armed to their teeth. Neither Mimar nor I understand a word they say. So they are neither Turks nor Kurds. Mimar thinks of Syrians, I think of Russians.
They’re heading back to the big lake. A few minutes later, we hear a series of gusts. Then the cars go back the other way. They were only there to make some boxes.
At night, it’s campfire and BBQ by the lake. On the menu: (lake) fish and grilled chicken. At night, the bears come back to roost. The next day, I am awakened by the cry of the seagulls (yes, there are seagulls ! and also starlings, kingfishers, dragonflies, etc). Mimar has to go back. I spend the day discovering the crater by motorcycle and on foot. Geological weirdness: while most fumes are hot, there is (at least) a hole that exhales cold fumes: it can even serve as a refrigerator!

 

 

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