Merhaba from Sanliurfa

Merhaba from Sanliurfa,

 

Today we stayed near Sanliurfa.  We began the day by using our phrase book and dictionary to question the hotel staff and some others about Tozan.  As far as we could tell no one was aware of the town or familiar with the area.  We decided another trip to Mardin was unlikely to be successful so we unsuccessfully searched several of the local hilly areas for Iris.  In the late afternoon we walked to the town center where there is a large park leading to a fortress on the hill.  This is where, according to legend, Abraham was hurled from a funeral pyre onto a bed of roses.  Today is Sunday and the park was filled with families, some of whom were probably pilgrims to this town of Abraham.  When we returned to the hotel we met the mayor and director of tourism who is also an archeologist on a joint excavation project with faculty from Texas.  We had an excellent conversation with him about academics, tourism ect.  We then packed to travel in the morning to Gaziantep wishing we could afford a day off to relax in this wonderful town.

 

Gule gule,

 

Carol

4/28/06

 

 

 

 

Merhaba from Sanliurfa,

 

Today we left early for an area on the border between Syria and Turkey south of Mardin.  We were searching for I. nectarifera subsp. mardinensis that is described as being in steppe habitat around the police station at Tozan.  Tozan was not on our maps but we were hopeful that we could find it.  We were again waved through checkpoints and turned south to the border area at Kiziltepe.  We drove to a small town (Senyurt) where the road south ended.  We asked where Tozan was and were directed to travel east along a dirt road.  We were questioned at a police station just outside of Senyurt.  While stopped I looked for likely habitat but did not see any.  The area was largely planted to wheat with some fallow fields and weedy field edges.  We traveled by car until the road became impassible then walked.  Eventually we came to a small community where they announced that we were in Tozan.  We showed them a picture of an Iris and they showed us a cultivated iris in a vegetable garden.  We searched around the village as best we could with all of the village men assisting us but only found one small area of steppe habitat.  This site was used for grazing and had weedy vegetation. 

 

We walked back to the car somewhat confused because we had not seen a police station within the village although there was a military guard station that we could see just south of the village.  We traveled back taking several other dirt roads and searching all likely habitat.  We encountered a family at one rocky site who invited us to their home.  There we had a yogurt drink, arwyn.  The wife was very outgoing and joined our phrase-book conversation about their chickens, home, children and sheep.  She had a tattooed face which I think indicated they were Bedouin and probably originally from Syria.  Later I asked Erodgan about this site and he told me he had traveled through the area several years earlier looking for the species without success.  He felt it was near the military area rather than a police station but was not allowed to leave his car near the border.  We had not encountered any interference by the military but had not seen suitable habitat to explore that was near the border fence.

 

At dark we again started our return to Sanliurfa.  This time we were stopped at one police checkpoint.  After Merhaba the conversation eroded.  I brought my hands up in a questioning gesture and the policeman began laughing realizing that we could not answer his questions.  We also laughed and shrugged our shoulders.  He shook Clyde’s hand and waved us off.

 

 Gule gule,

 

Carol

4/27 /06

 

 

 

Merhaba from Sanliurfa,

 

Today we left early for Mardin.  Erdogan Usta from Gaziosmanpasha University in Tokat emailed me a location for I. gatesii that is very near the city.  There were two military and several police checkpoints along the way but we were waved through them.  After some time we found the mosque he mentioned and then the Iris in typical dry rocky (limestone) habitat.  It was unfortunately not yet in flower but we found several vegetative plants.  We hurried at this site because we wanted to travel north toward Savur to search for I. persica and I. bakeriana.  We found I. persica (past flower) after searching about 10 likely sites.  It was in a rocky area with cushion plants and scrub oak and had developing fruits slightly below the soil surface.  This must be a cold place earlier in the year as even now a cold wind has us with our vests and coats on.  We searched for I. bakeriana but without success.  It is probably present, but the reticulates are difficult to find unless they are flowering.  The plants have 1 or 2 leaves that are only a few mm wide and about 10-20 cm long. 

 

We left the area early enough to reach Mardin before dark because we had traveled through several small villages that seemed less than friendly and along the road we had passed young military men with machine guns as well as military troop trucks filled with heavily armed soldiers.  As we entered one village there were non-military men with rifles.  On our trip back we were again waved through the checkpoints and arrived in Sanliurfa at about 10:00 pm.  Fortunately our hotel was willing to feed us upon our arrival.

 

Gule gule,

 

Carol

4/26 /06

 

 

 

Merhaba from Sanliurfa,

 

We traveled today to Sanliurfa in southeastern Anatolia.  There is considerable unrest to the east of here but we were told that this is a safe city.  We will be traveling each day several hundred kilometers east to potential Iris sites so our fieldwork will be difficult.  As a result we chose a hotel (Cevahir Konuk Evi) with more amenities than typical.  It is small, is in a quiet area, has a restaurant on site and the staff are very professional.  Little English is spoken which is typical and unfortunately our Turkish is not improving very much.  We have found less English spoken in Turkey during this trip than during our visit in 2004.  This is in contrast to Syria where a surprising amount of English is spoken. 

 

Gule gule,

 

Carol

4/25/06