As in Cappadocia, in Hasankeyf caves are built into the rock, a rock that is also Cappadocia's colour. These caves are effective for escaping the intense heat of day. Passing quite a few, I walked at high noon to the top of the ruins. I'm not sure I went where I was supposed to but I enjoyed going right to the edge of the sheer cliff and looking at Alfonso's restaurant 100m below. I was not aware of experiencing vertigo, but the more I wondered if I should be, the more I did. Happily unsuicidal, it was nonetheless a vivid moment - reflecting that I could be dead in less than a minute. Except when we drive, there are not that many moments in our ultra safe lives when we can say this (even if we try as we might to succumb to the fear-pummeling lusts of the architects of the war on an abstract noun).
During lunch, eaten in a cave with a raised carpeted area, I paused momentarily to film a group of dancing men in the valley beneath. Well, I say film - I used my Canon Powershot A530, with its broken shutter, in video mode.
I didn't use, then, the kind of elaborate device wielded by an American lady waving at me as I waked away. She was in town making a film about Hasankeyf and wondered if she could interview me, the first foreigner she'd met. I said yes and 90 minutes later, with a furry phallus in my face, we began.
Actually, we'd some time to chat before the film crew arrived about the forthcoming flooding. Apparently, last week, an agreement was finally signed stating that it would definitely go ahead. Until then I wasn't sure, and Alfonso had said he thought it would never happen. As I had thought, there are alternative possibilites to provide the same amount of water for the planned Hydroeolectricity plant. But clearly these are not as desirable to the Government. Perhaps this is why some Kurds think the flooding might be politically motivated. An anti-Kurdish move to sink a culturally significant Kurdish town. Another relevant issue is the unhappiness this redirecting of water from the Tigirs and Euphrates causes the Syrian and Iraqi Governments. An unhappiness that will presumably only increase. I optimistically expressed the idea that many of the soon-to-be-exiled residents might benefit from the move, remembering what the veiled teacher had said on the way to Siverek. The Film maker (Sakae Ishikawa, from New York) was sceptical, and had heard no expressions of enthusiasm from the locals she'd spoken to.
On camera, she got me to speak about these issues and asked how I'd heard of Hasankeyf, why I was here, and finally, what I thought of it overall. I don't think I was nervous as such (even though I have never been interviewed by professionals before), I think the problem was more that I was a bit pompous maybe. Or too exact and academic in my replies. I tried to be 'upbeat' and certainly I said nice things about Hasankeyf. But I'm not sure I cast that kind of a shiny, razzle-dazzle enthusiasm she might have been looking for, allied to a sufficently fraught sense of disdain about the planned submerging. And I think I was fumbling a bit too in my utterances. Who knows, maybe it was only I who thought it wasn't quite what she sought. It had been fun anyway, and made me feel sort of important for a while, which makes a change.
After signing the 'Your image is no longer yours' document, I left, emails exchanged, wondering if I'll ever get on PBS TV. Not that I really care of course, but I'll be wondering if she writes to me in a year or so to tell me I'll be on her documentary when it finally gets shown.
Oddly enough, just before we met up to do the interview I'd chatted with another filmer who I'd presumed was working with Sakae. In fact she works for the BBC and said she wanted a chat with me too, after I'd finished. As it happened though she'd disappeared by that time.
Carlos had spent the morning with the Swiss girls and was now sleeping at the river resaturant. Yes, it was tempting to join them but I know how grouchy I can get if I can't get some privacy in the evening hours, especially if there's loud revelry nearby. And what if my insomnia struck again? For that I need a light so I can read. I wasn't sure the moon would have been enough. So once again I left for the night after enjoying another excellent evening meal.
Still, the time spent at Alfonsos was definitely one of the best 'social' experiences I've had on my 2 month jaunt, probably the best. Travelling is magical the way it throws random people together in unusual settings, giving them something in common they'd otherwise lack. Unless I'd been introduced to Carlos and the girls in normal life in Europe I probably wouldn't even have talked to them. Even if we had talked, nothing might have come of it. Still, I'm not suggesting we're now best friends or anything. Usually I don't keep in touch with the people I meet, even when I try. I don't know how it is for other travellers but perhaps this is often the way of it...the lightness of the breeze that brings you together, forming connections on sheer arbitrariness and a common alienation from your surroundings, is not strong enough to survive in an ordinary milieu when far more selective criteria in friendship-making apply, when things like your personality and interests and, heaven forbid, your job and your income, that whole architecture of the settled life, become far more important and divisive.