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September 8, 2011

Lunchtime. Out of the murmur of the cafe, a sentence wiggled out, like a sleek column of smoke, at first gently raising from the table, only to stay afloat somewhere beneath the ceiling, light, yet omnipresent.
Or so it seamed.

“How about this Shan… San… Şanlıurfa?”
My eyebrows raised almost instantly, and my gaze lazily followed them a few moments later. Two tables across from mine, two students were planing out their holidays, one sticking her head into the all to familiar covers of a Lonely Planet guidebook, the other hiding her died blond hair behind a computer screen.
“What does it say?”
As her friend starts reading the somewhat suspicious description of Urfa, temptation started to grow.
A quick flashback of the dusty otogar, of the longest possible route we unknowingly took to town. Of the worn out hotel room, stuffy August afternoons, the shady tea garden, the oversized right hand muscle of the blacksmiths at the bazaar. Neatly lined up skewers with little pieced of meat and liver in the windows of side street restaurants, a small plate with cloves on the exit from the restaurant, carps swimming on top of each other as they are being fed by a teenager in a black chador and a black NY Yankees baseball cap.
A couple of days (LP suggestion) would be a bit too long for my taste, but still. Should I…

“It sounds OK. And than we are ready for Van.”
You can’t be ready for Van. At least not for the annoying kids preying for tourists. The ones that can’t be chased away by cakes and candy but demand cash. Or the tourist stalkers pingponging between the few places to stay, the ones that know about Slovenia and will probably ask you if your name is Maša or Tjaša. You can’t really mean you are ready for Van, not for the striking colour of the lake, nor for the tastiest bread I tasted in whole of Turkey. Or for the faces on the two thousand-year old tombstones that look so much alike those of Serbian peasants I remember from my youth.

“But this would probably mean that we have to drop Diyarbakir.”
The only place where kids tend to be more annoying than Van? The place we rented the most prestigious hotel room of our whole trip in Hotel Kristal? Where there is more army and police than tourists? I’d say drop it. If it were not for the incredible tastes of Mr. Guven’s eatery, where you order by pointing your finger and the dishes are explained to you using a ladle. Not to mention you can catch a bus to Batman :) Or Mardin.
Droping it? Well, might be a smart decision after all, though you will not get to see the fabulously kitschy monument to military pilots. Or have the adventures dolmus ride to(wards) Nemrut Dağı, during which the driver would change the folk-pop music (presumably from Kurdish to Turkish) when approaching check points along the road. I mean, I could just say a word or two to them… like… yeah, just drop it.  Go to Kars, go…

I miss a few sentences (I exchange a few words with a colleague from work who had just entered the cafe) but am tuned in for the inevitable finale.

“This is perfect. we will stay there and do day trips. There is this mountain I want to climb, a bit over 4000 meters…”
But of course. If there was a tiniest doubt that the two were not native to this country, it had just been blown to a bit over 4000 pieces. True Slovenes, born and raised. That year when we arrived from Van to a small dock on the lake where the boat for Akdamar island would wait for at least 8 passengers (or was it 11, which back than was the minimum quota to sail with profit) before sailing to that picturesque and serene must-see place, we ran into two Slovenes (there must have been a total of 8 backpackers in Van at the time and four of us were from Slovenia). One of the first thing they asked under the burning midday sun was if we had already been to one of the nearby mountains.
But by now I was really tempted to talk to them. If they were sitting a table closer to mine, I might have said something. But in the end I decided not to spoil their fun. Or innocence. For better or worse. All I gave them was a smile which they didn’t see, peering into their freshly finished itinerary. My photos from that trip are still on slides, so you get an Istanbul pic instead.

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