East of Eden, title of Steinbeck’s well-known novel describes well, how does it feel to be in the Turkey’s far east, on the border with Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
After a 13-hour bus ride from Rize, the Turkish Tea Capital on the south-east coast of the Black Sea, we arrived to Van. Van is famous for its university and is supposedly the most liberal city of eastern Turkey. (I even saw a local girl in pretty short skirt, couples holding hands and flirting on the street.) Besides that Van may be famous among the cat people for the white Van cat. *meow*
Yesterday I experienced Van as being a bit stressy and messy. Besides that everything is dusty and the whole city is a big construction site, it is also full of police, blinded cars and battle-trucks, due to some Kurdish protests reapearing in spring. Also the UNHCR-people are accompanying the city bustle, trying to help many refugees coming to the region.
Today I climbed to the Van Fortress and enjoyed its charm, catching some beautiful views of the mountains, city and salt lake Van. Peace, calm above the area and smiling people, trying to chat with us kurdish and turkish.
In spite of the magical moon-like landscape, friendly people and culinaric delights, living here cannot be easy. Being so far away from the capital city Ankara and even further from the great multi cultural and business center Istanbul, must feel like being forgotten from your country, forgotten from your gods; living not in the end of the world, but even behind of it.
The city and province are only to be reached with some difficulties, with maybe few buses per day, some overbooked local flights and a train or two weekly, passing by on their way from Iran towards central Turkey. It’s like the city would like to state: You might have come and reached your destination, but who knows, you might not be able to leave. One proof of it are the many refugees from Iraq, Iran, Armenia, the LGBT-refugees… UNHCR-office in Van is trying their best, but it doesn’t look like, that the refugees in Turkey will soon find their way to the promised land. Even heavier are the ethnic questions of the area, that are waiting to be solved.
Will they ever be solved? Will you, Gods, someday remember those nice people from the turkish east and lead them to Eden?