Friday, January 10, 2014


Another excursion near Şanlıurfa was Harran, once a major city in ancient Mesopotamia and now pretty much a village. It's the site of the oldest known Islamic university, although sadly there's not much left of it and nothing seems to be being done to preserve or protect it:

We visited a compound near the university to see the traditional beehive houses once in widespread use:
The compound gate; you can see a few goats across the street with a dog in hot pursuit:

The courtyard:

One of the beehive domes looking up from inside:

Inside the home - the bridal bedroom:
 The kitchen:

Baby's cradle:

A wood platform with cushions, reserved for the elders in the family:

There were several Syrian refugee camps in this area, and refugees can get leave from the camps to work on farms in the vicinity. The Red Crescent sets up all the camps before refugees are allowed to settle - they have shops, medical, sanitation, schools, etc. - the one closest to Harran even has three grocery stores while Harran itself has none. The Turkish government gives each refugee $50 bi-weekly, all hospitalization is free, etc. With 600,000 of them in the country, this must be a hell of a drain on the Turkish economy.

We were fortunate that this family was hosting a refugee who works for them, along with a man recovering from injuries incurred in the fighting, and we were able to talk with him. The refugee is the young man in the gray sweater:
He says most now support Assad because he’s the devil they know and most rebel groups are coming from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. They are far from sure it was Assad who released the chemical gas, too, as many of his soldiers died in the attack. 

Entirely coincidentally, some local tourists were visiting the compound at the same time and asked to take a picture with us (this was a very common reaction to us Western tourists while in this part of Turkey - people seemed quite surprised to see Westerners and were anxious to shake our hands, take a photo and welcome us very warmly). Turned out the husband was in the Turkish army and the commander of one of these refugee camps. The refugee camp commander and his wife, who is an attorney in Şanlıurfa:

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