I’m surprised to hear the guy giving me a ride is a cop. Maybe I misunderstood him. He just seems so friendly and with his basic grasp of English combined with my random bits of Turkish vocabulary we are managing to actually have an interesting conversation. It’s just that all the people I’ve hung out with recently were so anti-government that it’s easy to forget there could be decent people working on both sides.
We have a kebab together before I catch public transport for the last few kilometers as he heads off to his elderly parents on their farm a few kilometers from the Syrian border. My couchsurfing host Hawar is still at work, but has told me to meet him at the teachers hostel. When I go there the guy behind the counter has no clue who Hawar is, but I manage to communicate that I would like to use the phone. Via my host I ask if I can leave my bag for a few hours, the guy behind the counter looks a bit uncomfortable, he asks if I’m carrying a bomb before agreeing.
A few hours later I meet up with Hawar, and figure out why we aroused suspicion. My host is a Syrian refugee with the accent to match his background. Turns out he’s a pretty impressive guy who fled across the border with nothing, but is now starting his own construction business. I ask him if he’d like to continue on to Europe, but he says he doesn’t want to start over again. Besides at least he”s close to his family now. Living just on the other side of the border though he hasn’t seen them since crossing the border, as a young man it’s too dangerous to go back into his home town.
I spent a few evenings hanging out with Hawer and his friends, while in the daytime I wander through Mardin‘s old city. The historical museum is closed for renovation and though there are many shops catering to tourists it looks like I’m the only foreigner about. The hawkers just seem listless not even bothering to try and lure me into their shops. In a way the town itself is an open air museum with its old churches, steep stairways between streets and old houses perched on top of hill overlooking the Mesopotamian plain.