I left Gaziantep one Sunday morning to head to goreme on my way to the city of Istanbul.
Sophie, Angelique and some other relatives from Turkey told me about the place and strongly advised me to get there for a break.
Well… My break last few hours from early morning to midday or so … But the place had a great impact on me.
These centenarians houses built on the rocks, these caves and volcanic mountains made me though I was standing in another planet, somehow lost between the early landscapes of star wars and the beautiful scenery of a martian movie.
And the balloons flew at the dawn … As usual, thg touristic attraction was gathering bunch of foreigners coming from all over the place and I quickly left to wander into the old rocky village.
It seems like the place has been frozen in time, trapped in the rock like a sculpture encapsulated in its own canvas.
A art master piece from the earth … A mixed work of nature and mankind that stay … Motionless, fragile and beautiful.
I arrived to the millenarian city quite late.
And it’s been a long drive … The city and its agglomeration might cover 20km at least and it sounded I’ve been driving through the surrounding neighbourhoods for ages before reaching at last the Istanbul city center.
Bright lights, mosques and centenarian buildings all over the dark horizon, creating a line through the sky … Like a new noisy milky way.
A galaxy settled here to shine and glorify the Muslim world …
All these monuments, mosques, churches and castles stand here, scattered though the millenarian city as a reminder of the past. A proof of the ancient establishment of all the civilisations that has been governing the area from this specific point.
And the city is old … Somehow I felt less freedom than I experienced in Izmir or other more “modern” town in Turkey and I understand why Otaturk has changed of official capital when he came to reorder the country during the XXth century : Istanbul is too old, the city has a too huge past and a too heavy history.
It’s a bit as if all the civilisations memories and traditions where crystallized on every squares, park, buildings and streets and it would had been crazy to try to change it once again…
And you can feel somehow that the mind set is different from the western cities of the country… The religion is way more involved in every aspect of the daily life. And the awareness regarding foreigners is as a matter of fact more perceptible.
Though I haven’t felt too much oppressed and I could still walk through the city as much as I wanted.
Kan, a fellow volunteer from Izmir hosted me for a while by the time he show me the places and organisations which could help me regarding my project.
I have been a little surprised when I saw so few welcoming from their side, so little understanding and very less warmth than the other NGO or groups I have been working with.
They weren’t rude or impolite, jut not interested at all and I had the feeling I was wasting my time … Maybe they were too busy coping with the refugees in the city … Maybe they have too much pressure coming from the administration or whatever … My feeling was just a bit cold.
Still, I wish I’ll come back there to help and teach in these schools for refugees … As the salam school of Gaziantep.
I crossed the border early morning …
I was feeling a tension in Turkey … Here either but not the same …
Somehow nothing happened when I crossed, I was expecting some troubles as usual but it went surprisingly well. I felt the indescribable uncomfortableness a bit after, while I was driving through the deserted countryside near the frontier … Police car patrolling quietly, fences scattered here and there but no migrants… Nobody …
I felt the mute power of the disinformation and the pressure that lied on these lands : it was as if nothing was happening. Absolutely nothing, as the government would like people to think I guess, but I could almost hear the boots cracking on the branches in the forests … I could almost see the abandoned hidden shelters where the “illegal” migrants where spending the few moments of relief before walking again.
Keep quiet… Keep walking… Avoid the police… Keep moving … Slowly, gently not to be seen and caught.
I’ve been driving through the country, passing through the city of harmanli where one of the only refugees camp was supposed to be … I was searching … In vain … Still nothing …
Then I went to the capital, Sofia where I thought I could find some information regarding the situation of the country.
Tzvetko, a humanitarian coordinator in the country, was about to host me for a while.
We met at his second flat which was used as a storage place for his donations.
The flat was filled with sleeping bags, clothes and rain coats, craft boxes, diy gears etc … It felt like a messy container back in the camps … But I didn’t mind at all and I was comfortable with all this mess which was part of my world for the last couple of months.
Tzvetko was a busy guy, somehow, he knew about the whole refugees situation in the country and even if it was clear I couldn’t do nothing to help (as I would have to ask authorisations to the governmental authority and to go through a lot of painful and annoying process) he gave me lots of informations for me to help in the city.
Then I’ve been to ovcha kupel and neuva rampa, two places in Sofia where the migrants where placed the time for the country to figure what to do with them.
These ” camps ” where more looking like jails to me… Even if the people there could go in and out freely.
The buildings were falling apart, the structures were old and rusty, the windows … Broken …
And I wasn’t surprised when I heard the places were full … Here at least, it seemed the refugees were treated with more humanity, less anger than they used to received in the police quarter.
I met couple of them and we spoke together for a while.
As I expected, most of them had been beaten by the police, tracked in the forests by patrols etc … Some of them had been caught by local people and send to police after being robbed their goods … I even heard about some Bulgarian setting up some kind of safari in the forests to hunt the migrants … The most terrible was the fact that they were proud of their atrocities, posting pictures on social networks etc … Congratulating themselves … And as terrifying as it sounds people were glad to them …
It made sense that all the refugees there in Sofia wanted to leave … Either to Serbia, either to Romania, either to Turkey … Anywhere but Bulgaria.