Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fehime Ozman, August 27, 2010, Observations about Hasankeyf

Fehime Ozmen (Fama) at a Assyrian Christian community. "I'm now more than 2 weeks in Hasankeyf. Right now the people here are fasting because of Ramazan. That means they neither drink nor eat nor smoke from sunrise to sunset for a whole month and on days above 46 degrees C (120 degrees F)".

Children at Hasenkeyf - concerned for their future. "Hasankeyf seems very abandoned because on the one hand only very few people still live here (3000 people left); ...the way to the castle and restaurants by the river are closed, because several weeks ago a rock fell down from the cliffs. Since then its FORBIDDEN to travel to the castle or go to the restaurant (see pictures of us sitting with our feet in the river and in the castle at said FORBIDDEN locations). This prohibition is very difficult for the people in Hasankeyf, because of this closing down the tourists don't come and the people can't make an income. For these reasons the people feel leached out and left alone here".

Family members in Cizre.

Hama in Hasenkeyf with feet in the Tigris River at the FORBIDDEN restaurant, smiling at Michelle her friend and drinking tea. "For more than 50 years the people of Hasenkeyf have had to deal with the Ilusu dam project. Many NGOs and journalists come always with the promise to help, but they always come and go without changing something for continuance. And if someone always listens to the same promises year by year but nothing gets changed, they will get used to false promises and lose all hopes and belief. It seems to me that the people live on stagnation, they have neither hope nor hope for the future. To prevent the construction of the Ilusu Dam the resistance must come from the people who live here but they have no more strength. They are waiting for the Ilusu Dam to be built so that the years of ".

The Turkish government makes the people empty promises. One of their arguments is that the poople in the region will benefit from energy and water production from Ilusu Dam. But it has been shown already with the dams on the Euphrates River, that nothing has come from the energy and water produced by the dam to the people of the south-eastern Anatolian region of Turkey; instead, resources flow to western Turkey in the populated urban areas. Nothing good has come to the people living in the region, especially the poor people. The population lives with dry and salty soil, or their homes and fields and mosques flooded under reservoirs behind dams. The habitat of species alive in the river will gradually be destroyed. This is a very lousy policy from the Turkish government who try to seek the approval of a majority of the Kurdish population. The whole of Kurdistan lives in backwardness and it looks like a world from a century ago. The Turkish state is not willing to invest here economically nor socially. The government is trying to leach out the region completely. To prevent this destruction, the Turkish government must perceive that it's hurt only himself with this approach. I believe it will take much time until they realize this, unfortunately."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NPR Insight August 25

Today I was on Capital Public Radio for 8/25 with Insight and Jeffrey Callihan. "Mideast Dam. A Sacramento State professor has been doing research in Turkey on the Ilusu Dam and headwaters of the Tigres and Euphrates Rivers. The dam has potential to cause great problems and conflict in that region and we'll find out why."

I didn't get the whole story told, about Doga Dernegi and citizen activism etc. Ah, well! Needed to be more concise, as always. LOL

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NPR Wed Aug 25 10:00 or 10:30

I'll be on Insight on NPR with Jeffrey Callison tomorrow August 25 from 10:00-11:00 on FM 88.9 or 90.9. Tune in for information on my journey to Turkey!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thank you to Doga Dernegi

Tigris River at Cizre. Muyettin, Fama, Mellisa and Omar
Marissa, Muyettin and Fama at castle above Hasankeyf

Ferdi, Professor, Muyettin at restaurant

Turan, DD Representative and exception photographer for Euphrates River at Bierecek

Mustaffa and Hassan, Bald Ibis Sanctuary, DD

Last Day in Hasenkeyf

Last photo in Hasenkeyf: After swimming in the Tigris River, then hiking to the hot dusty cliffs of the castle, we sat in chairs in the river and shade where it was cool and drank Turkish tea. What a great way to end the day! What a great trip. I am deeply indebted to Doga Dernegi and the staff who made this such a fantastic, magical and heart breaking journey. Special thanks to Ferdi, Muyettin, Turan, Omar, Fama, Marissa, Digle, Engin, Mustaffa, Hassan, Urich Eichelmann, and Guven Eken for the friendship, hospitality and sharing their hearts and minds. I want to particular acknowledge travelling during Rameden. Last night on the way to the airport, at 7:19 Muyettin and Omar could finally eat and drink after a very hot hot day. Muyettin asked me if I knew what that first drink of water meant to him, and I think this is correct. "You are doing a give away to the Creator/ Allah for all the blessings he gives you. You are doing your spiritual practice, and remembering all those in the world who have no food or water. When you drink now, after not drinking all day, it is the very best drink of water in the whole world. You are reminded what a gift water is." This seems a core lesson for my travels on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Firat and Digle Nehri. Water is life. Let us care for it, bless it, honor it, and protect it, for these source mother rivers run in our veins, run in our ancestry, and are our future.
Tigris River. Digle Nehri.

Hasenkeyf from the castle. If Ilusu Dam is constructed, this ancient city will be flooded, and all the people become environmental refugees.

The castel, in the cliffs above Hasenkeyf.

The beautiful Tigris River.

Cizre border wetland and Turkish Army

This wetland is near Cizre and on the Turkey, Iraq and Syrian borders in Kurdish ancestral and cultural lands. You can see that all of the hillsides around this area have been burned by the Turkish army. At the park in Cizre, I really wanted to see the local wetlands and riparian habitat. My idea was that this was a great area for a Peace Park. A local man escorted us to this poor degraded wetland. I photographed water withdrawal for irrigation, large fill being placed in wetland, trash, pollution, and overall degradation of habitat. Two Turkish soldiers walked around a field from the guard tower toward us and I photographed them. My friend asked to see my camera and advised me to erase these photos, which I did. As they arrived, I went forward with my US passport, explaining I was an American scientist studying wetlands. They asked to see my camera, and asked me to take more photos off. Then three army vehicles arrived, and the commanding officer appeared. I once again introduced myself and my business. All of the soldiers were very professional and as non menacing as soldiers can be if you are in a forbidden area without permission. The commander asked to see all of my photographs, and asked me to delete all of the photos of the burned hills or pointed north. The mountain to the north, ironically enough, is the mountain that Noah's arc landed on after the waters began to subside.
Illustration of erosion, desiccation and degradation of wetland.

Irrigation system withdrawing water from wetland

The soldiers didn't mind this photo. Notice the old tire, a sure fire indicator world wide of wetlands.

I did get this photo looking north at the burned hills. Kurdish guerillas had killed four soldiers in this are recently, so they were very justified in being concerned about attacks. All Turkish men must serve in the military, and many are very young. They were also guarding Ilusu dam. I must say that they were extremely professional and non menacing, although its always intimidating to be surrounded by army vehicles and soldiers.

Cezre, Tigris River

In Turkey, kitties can talk on cell phones! Really!

Tigris River park at Cizre. Temperatures are between 45-50 C or 114-122 F, yet only boys and men are swimming. No wetland or riparian habitat at all.

Dragonfly on vegetation along the river.

Wetland along Tigris River

Hasenkeyf Day 1

Hiking up canyon behind Hasenkeyf, looking down on road between villages. In distance is horse drawn cart in around 45 degree C or 114 degree F temperatures.
Womens hiking day, good advertisement for Berkenstock sandles and all they can but should not accomplish - river and cliff hiking/ climbing. Not for the faint of heart.

From the bridge at Hasenkeyf looking out over Tigris River. My hotel had a small veranda looking over the Tigris, so could hear river sounds that will be forever silenced and drowned by Ilusu Dam.

My little boy guide around Hasenkeyf.

Little girl and kitten.

Constuction on Ilusu Dam, Tigris River

Ilusu Dam construction has begun and they are doing double construction shifts. This dam is huge and will have a devastating effect on the Tigris River. The world bank, European Union and several European investment firms have withdrawn funding for this project due to both environmental and human rights impacts.
I could only take pictures from inside the car, as the Turkish government has FORBIDDEN getting out of the car to take pictures!

Big equipment from inside the car.

Construction of Ilusu Dam

The Euphrates River on the way to Ilusu Dam for an idea of the undisturbed river condition. The following information is from Doga Dernegi, an NGO working on environmental issues in Turkey. Their web site is; or; or The dam is 65 km from the Turkey/ Syria/Iraq border and would have devastating downstream impacts on water flows, biodiversity and human rights in the lower watershed. The Dam is 135 m height, 1,820 m wide, and affects 400 km of the Tigris and tributaries. It will supply 3,800 GWh per year if built. There are five smaller dams proposed as an equivalent alternative to this dam. EVEN IF THE DAM IS CONTRUCTED IT COULD BE DESIGNED WITH AFTERBAY AND FOREBAY TO REGULATE FLOWS AND THE OUTFLOW DESIGNED TO SUSTAIN FISH AND AQUATIC LIFE AND BIODIVERSITY ALONG THE RIVER.

Photos from Bierecik Dam, Euphrates

Marissa, Michelle and Hama above reservoir at Halfeti, a town "drowned" by reservoir and people relocated against their will.
Dam is regulated so that there is a complete lack of water for 2-5 hours each day, then a surge of water as they generate hydroelectricity of 1-3m downstream. Flows from dams at 15m, meaning very cold water that fish are not adapted to. Result of dewatering and temperatures is significant on native fish species, as well as introduction of non native fish species.
Before dams there were over 100 different fish species. The shaboot was 10-15 kg and is a great food fish (take it from me!). Another fish was from 150-165 kg. Dam regulation has been devastating to fish and aquatic life on Euphrates but this loss appears to be undocumented.
Aqua culture facilityfor forell. Produce 1,100,000 fish per year. Around 6 years ago the river otters cok kus agi (water dogs in turkish and arabic) broke in nets and released fish.
Umit, fish manager of aquaculture facility. Shows where fish are raised for first 20 days before being released into larger containers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Don't Miss Gregory Popejoy Public Access, August 17th @ 8pm

August 17th, 8pm, Channel 17 (Public Access)

Gregory Popejoy will be speaking with Dr. Michelle Stevens about her recent research on the Tigris-Euphrates watershed in Turkey.

The marshes of Iraq are drying and the Shatt al Arab is growing more and more saline; the people of Basrah, Iraq have salt water coming out of their taps due to water diversion in Syria, Turkey, and Iran.

Dr. Stevens went to Turkey looking for answers:

Why so many dams? What is the effect of these dams on the Turkish and Iraqi people? What is the current state of the Tigris-Euphrates watershed? Is a each nation for itself approach to climate change effective when rivers cross international boundaries?

Find out what she discovered.

Tune in tomorrow, August 17th @ 8pm, Channel 17, Public Access Sacramento

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Saturday mornıng. The hotel at Hasenkeyf has not been updated sınce the 1950's. Thıs are wıll be flooded by Ilusu dam, despıte the fact that ıt has been here for 10,000 years wıth many cultures passıng throught the mılleıa, the plans are to flood ıt underwater. The Turkısh government calls the buıldıngs hıstorıc landmarks, and ıt has been desıgnated a World Herıtage Sıte. Despıte all thıs, they prohıbıt upgrades to the modern buıldıngs and only hotel to dısuade tourısts and publıc support for the town and people who lıve here. Therefore, as I stood naked ın the shower, I realızed no water. The toılet ıs a stand and shoot, whıch I could get used to, but not ın thıs lıfe tıme.

Thıs ıs none the less a magıcal town. There ıs no aır condıtıonıng and ıts extremely hot, so I sleep wıth my door open to the sound of the Tıgrıs Rıver and breeze. In the mornıng, I can sıt on the vernda and watch the bırds ın the fıgs and Tamarıxk below my wındow. A small group of cows made theır way down rıver, stoppıng to drınk and laze ın the shade. Later a flock of whıte geese and large flock of goats and sheep made theır way along the rıver breakfast bar.

Chıckens ın Hanankeyf have extroarınarıly long legs, almost lıke the walk on stılts. Thıs ıs natural selectıon, so they can,t get bıt as easıly by scorpıons. They roost ın the trees wıth the cros who come ın each evenıng, about the tıme prayers are sung from the mosque. The local man who sıngs the Hazzan or prayer has the most beautıful tenor voıce I've heard.

After a wonderful walk up a stone canyon, we drove to Mardın. Thıs ıs a World Herıtage Sıte on the Syrıan border. There are beautıful churches datıng back to the Assyrıans. I always wonder why Muslıms read the Koran ın Arabıc, but Chrıstıans don't often read the Bıble ın Aramaıc. The church dates back to 100-400AD, and ıs on a hıll surrounded by lovely vınyards and orchards. Thıs ıs a cultıvated workıng landscape.

Aug 15 Cızre

Today was full of adventure, and my worst day ın a wetland ever. It's the fırst day I have every almost landed ın a Turkısh jaıl for beıng ın a wetland. Cızre means ısland, and ıs an old Kurdısh vıllage on the Iraq and Turkey border. We went to a park ın Cızre and there was absolutely no rıparıan vegetatıon along the rıver at all. Boys and men swam ın the rıver, but there was no natural area that I could see at all.

A local man who was a guıde offered to take us to a wetland ın Cızre. I had heard there were beatıful wetlands here along the Tıgrıs Rıver and wanted to see them. I had hoped to recommend a peace park between Turkey, Syrıa, Kurdısh people, and Iraq. When we got to the hıghly degraded wetland, the hıllsıdes all around the wetland and rıver were burned so the Turkısh army could see Kurdısh freedom fıghters or terrorısts. Water was draınıng from the wetland ın bıg pıpes, a huge amount of fıll was placed along the wetland, and ıt was dryıng up.

We drove to a brıdge to take better pıctures and lo and behold, there ıs the Turkısh army. Muyettın asked to look at my camera and deleted pıctures of the soldıers before they got there. I told them I was an Amerıcan scıentıst studyıng wetlands. They asked to look at the pıctuers on my camera and told me to delete the ones of the burned area. Then the commander came and looked at my camera and took more. Evıdentally four soldıers had been kılled recently, we were on the border, and dıdn,t have permıssıon.

ıt was extremely hot, and shortly after that our car dıed - maybe the solenoıd. We were able to push start ıt to a shop, they worked on ıt a bıt, then made ıt back to Hasenkeyf. One of our colleages ıs ın the hospıtal havıng her appendıx emergency removed today, but can,t see her today as car won' work.

I'm glad to be wrıtıng and glad I'm not ın a Turkısh prıson, ıt would have put a damper on the trıpç

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ilusu Dam

I wıll post pıctures of the Tıgrıs Rıver and Ilusu Dam soon. I slept ın an ancıent hotel, wıth the door open so I could see and hear the Tıgrıs Rıver. It ıs a beautıful rıver wıth a clear and melodıc voıce. Beneath my wındow, sparrows flıtter around the rıparıan vegetatıon and fıgs. Fortunately brought ınstant Starbucks or NO COFFEE for Ramadan.

We drove from 10,000 year old Hasankeyf along the Tıgrıs Rıver to the ıntersectıon wıth the Botan Rıver, then down to the Ilusu Dam sıte. Thıs area ıs an area where Kurdısh revolutıonarıes are fıghtıng for theır ıdentıty usıng vıolent tactıcs; so the Turkısh army ıs guardıng securıty very closely. Two weeks ago a road was mıned and 4 people dıed. At a certaın poınt we couldn't get out of the car and had to photograph dam constructıon from wıthın the car.

Dam constructıon had progressed far more than people thought over the past year. The hıllsıdes were burned, and earth movıng equıpment had begun establıshıng the base of the dam. Thıs dam has been controversıal for years. The dam heıght ıs 135 meters and length 1,820 meters, wıth a reservoır surface of 313 km2. The output ıs 3,800 GWh per year, quıte huge. There ıs also oıl development ın southeast Anatolıa, wıth oıl dereks and oıl refınerıes vısıble on the drıve to Hasankeyf. Thıs dam wıll have a devastatıng effect on bıodıversıty, wıth 400 km of the Tıgrıs and trıbutarıes backed up by the dam.

The GAP Bıodıversıty Research Report 2001-2003 has not been updated and ıs a joke. No EIA ıs beıng completed because Turkey says that the plans for the project pre-date envıronmental protectıon agreements. In the ınadequate report, I can fınd no mentıon of fısh or aquatıc macroınvertebrates! Over tıme the World Bank, Germany, Australıa, and Swıtzerland fınancıal ınterests have wıthdrawn from the project. The constructıon ıs now fundedd by Turkey. Cıtızens of the country are very much agaınst the project, wıth major protests and celebrıtıes joınıng ın protests.

There are at least 17 more projects proposed to dam the Tıgrıs. Thıs ıs a naıl ın the coffın of avaılable water for downstreams users lıke Iraq and the Mesopotamıan Marshes. Stay tuned for more ınformatıon!

At thıs tıme constructıon actıvıty ıs goıng strong.

Aug 12 Dıyarbakır and Haseankeyf

I took a bus from Bıerecık to Dıyarbakır wıth Marıssa and Fama. The buses are really crowded; a pregnant lady needed to lay across the back seat as the heat was makıng her sıck. As soon as the bus stops for a break everyone gets out to smoke. I feel lıke the odd man out here beıng a non smoker.

Representatıves from Doga Dernegı pıcked us up at the bus; Ferdı, the drıver Husseın and a Professor who ıs an engıneer workıng on dam and water ıssues. I was feelıng sıck so asked ıf we could stop for a cup of chaı or tea for my tummy to settle. Thıs ıs the second day of Ramaddan and almost everyone ıs fastıng for 30 days; people don't eat or drınk water from fırst lıght to sunset at 7:30 pm. A bıg fıreworks sounds goes off, the mınarets from the mosques have prayers over the louspeakers, and everyone eats and drınks. Thıs means that at 3:00 ın the afternoon ın Batman, a large cıty, there was no where to get a cup of chaı. Fınally we went to a Turkısh mall wıth Burger Kıng and stıll no tea or coffee - only water. It was an ınterestıng adventure!

Hasankeyf ıs a UNESCO world herıtage sıte, and wıll be ınundated. The government offered to resettle the 3ö000 ınhabıtants of the town, but wıll only gıve them 15,000 L for theır homes and wants 70,000 for the new homes wıth no garden space, whıch no one can afford. For 50 years the government has wanted to buıld the dam, and restrıcted any new home constructıon and forbıd any modıfıcatıons to exıstıng hıstorıc buıldıngs. A rock fell of one of the clıffs and kılled a tourıst a couple years ago, so tourısm was banned. Thıs leaves people ın a very great hardshıp sıtuatıon. There are no jobs and no way to make a lıvıng, they are fıghtıng for theır lıves. After prayers at the mosque, the professor, Fırat and Muyettın helped conduct a publıc meetıng to ınform resıdents of an alternatıve to Ilusu Dam that consısted of 5 smaller dams. they were enthusıastıc about an alternatıve that would not flood Hasankeyf. Doga Dernegı has also hıred an archıtect-hıstorıc artıst to evaluate exıstıng structures ın town to make them more tourıst frıendly whıle maıntaınıng hıstorıc character. For more on Ilusu Dam, see next post

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

August 11 Euphrates Rıvers dams

Today we drove south along the Euphrates Rıver. Remnant wetlands and rıparıan areas are stıll relatıvely undısturbed; and we saw many bırds along the rıver - egrets, herons, mudhens, swallows and a black and whıte kıngfısher that Toran was very excıted about photographıng. The rıse and flow of the rıver; along wıth changıng velocıtıes, has eroded the ıslands wıth prıme rıparıan habıtat ın the rıver corrıdor. Loss of emergent wetlands means less water qualıty purıfıcatıon from the wetlands and reduced water qualıty ın the rıver.

I fınally fıgured out how they are runnıng the rıver flow ın the dams. Startıng wıth the dam furthest north; they fıll the reservoır by stoppıng all flow for 2-5 hours each day; essentıally dewaterıng a portıon of the rıver channel. As that dam begıns to generate hydroelectrıcıty, the next dam ın the rıver shuts down to store more water. Rıver flows go from no water to a bıg pulse of hıgh velocıty water comıng down the channel, then storıng behınd the next day. As always I am frustrated by my own ıgnorance. What were the 100 specıes of fısh ın thıs rıver, and what are theır bıologıcal requırements? How many fısh are left? How could the dams be operated to better optımıze fısh and aquatıc habıtat?

We went to habıtat ıslands for the Mesopotamıan softshelled turtle but faıled to see any turtles despıte my lookıng everywhere ın the extreme heat. Men were sıttıng ın the shade durıng lunch as thıs ıs the fırst day of Ramadan and they are thırsty and hungry. What hard hot weather for Rammadan! at 7:30 pm the mosque noıces went off announcıng the end of the fastıng perıod. Our hotel man had food and water ready for thıs moment and the whole cıty celebrated. They have free food every evenıng durıng Ramadan. I love thıs ceremony and remembrance of gratıtude. In a way ıt remınds me of the Sun Dance ceremony ın North Amerıcan trıbes. A gıve away and remembrance of sacrıfıce for all our relatıons, and to remember to be greatful to the Creator for all we have. Ah ho!

Today we leave Bırecık and head to the Tıgrıs Rıver watershed. Stay tuned!
Dr. Michelle Stevens

Photos from Turkey

Aug 4 sacred whirling dervishes

Aug 4 Whirling Dervishes
I went to see the Dervis Evi, the whirling dervish ceremony, in Goreme. The performance was in an underground cave; as we descended the stone steps to take our seats, the four musicians had begun to play. There was a small audience, and the cave was dark with small flickering lights like candles illuminating the small stage. Rumi wrote that we all share the One light, the radiating light. After seeing the many centuries of life in the caves, the overlap of Christianity and Islam both worshiping prophets of peace, I thought the essence of Rumi would be radiant here. I meditated as the musicians played, and felt full of light; it was rich and profound to participate in this mystic journey to perfection.
Samazen causes the mind to participate in the shared similarity and revolution of all beings. The dervishes turn their left hand to Earth and their right hand to Spirit. Revolving around the heart, from right to left, they embrace all of humankind, and all of creation with affection and love. The ceremony began with “Nat I sarif” to praise God, who created all of them. The Drum then sounded “Kund=Bo!” symbolizing divine order of the Creator. The flute or “nez”, with a very nasal wind sound, played to announce the presence of the breath of first life; the Divine Breath; the Breath Maker.
There were six dervishes, five participating in the ceremony and one Master of ceremonies. They enter with black coats over white flowing regalia, with a tall brown hat. They greet each other and bow to each other, a salutation of soul to soul concealed by shapes and bodies. I bowed quietly as well. They bowed to a red sheep skin, I believe representing all of life, all our relations, all sentient beings.
They take off the black cape, the shroud of death, and slowly begin to twirl in their pure white regalia, flowing out as they twirl. There were four parts to the ceremony. The first part of the ceremony is man’s birth into truth, feeling and the mind, ecstasy of God as Creator. I prayed to the spirit of the East, new beginnings, wind, the mind, the winged ones. Prayers of gratitude.
The second part of ceremony or “round” was the rapture of man witnessing the splendor of creation in front of God’s greatness and omnipotence. I prayed to the spirit of the south, fire, all plants, trees and deer – the gentleness of love.
The third was the direction of rapture into love, the sacrifice of mind to love. The complete submission and annihilation of self. Here I was praying to the west, water, collective consciousness, deep feelings - but had become lost in the light, swirling all through me and the room. I did metta prayer especially to one I was profoundly angry at and felt peace and compassion and really meant it for the first time. Forgiveness is the ultimate peace, the ultimate gift to self. This feeling was Buddhist void or nirvana, ecstasy, fenafill in Persia, a realization of submission to God.
The fourth and final round “He is a servant of God, of his books, of his prophets and all the Creation…” (Sura Bakaru 2 verse 285). Return to the task on Earth. The Master of Ceremonies led the last part of the ceremony, the dancers all bowed to acknowledge each other, and left. Thanks be to God the audience sat in awed silence, participating and presence. We all shared Oneness and light. Allah akbar.
The Reed Flute’s Song by Jelaluddin Rumi
Listen to the story told by the reed,
Of being separated.
“Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.
Anyone apart from someone he loves
Understands what I say.
Anyone pulled from a source
Longs to go back.
At any gathering I am there,
Mingling in the laughing and grieving,
A friend to each, but few
Will hear the secrets hidden
Within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,
Spirit up from body: no concealing
That mixing. But it’s not given us
To see the soul. The reed flute
Is fire, not wind. Be that empty.”
Hear the love fire tangled
In the reed notes, as bewilderment
Melts into wine. The reed is a friend
To all who want the fabric torn
And drawn away. The reed is hurt
And salve combining. Intimacy
And longing for intimacy, one
Song. A disasterous surrender
And a fine love, together. The one
Who secretly hears this is senseless.
A tongue has one customer, the ear.
A sugarcane flute has such effect
Because it was able to make sugar
In the reedbed. The sound it makes
Is for everyone. Days full of wanting,
Let them go by without worrying
That they do. Stay where you are
Inside such a pure, hollow note.
Every thirst gets satisfied except
That of these fish the mystics,
Who swim a vast ocean of grace
Still somehow longing for it!
No one lives in that without
Being nourished evey day.
But if someone doesn’t’ want o hear
The song of the reed flute,
It’s best to cut conversation short, say good-bye, and leave.

Aug 3 cappedocia

Aug 3 Cappadocia
The tours for Cappadocia all start in Goreme. The town is beautiful, with stone cliffs and homes all around the little village. The geologic formations occur due to softer tufa or ash layer from volcanic activity, with harder basalt capping it. As weathering occurred, the basalt tops look like mushroom caps. The area also has a very interesting history, beginning with the Hittites then Persians from before Christ. What interested me was the early Christian community who took refuge here from around 400 AD. Paintings in the caves showed Jesus as a Middle Eastern man with dark hair and eyes and a very kind and gentle expression. He looks more “real” in the cave paintings. Our guide told us that Joseph had a wife before Mary and had 4 brothers, but no one could say what happened to the wives. Did he have two wives? Did the first wife die? Did he have even more wives? All a mystery with women largely ignored or forgotten.

It was really interesting getting to hike the second day, wandering through a streamside canyon with cliff dwellings surrounding the trail reminiscent of the Anasazi. Saw cottonwoods, willow and sycamore as dominant native vegetation. The creek side rich soil was primarily planted with melon, grapes, fig, olive, pear and apricot. The understory reminded me of California with annual grasses, a teasel like plant, white hollyhock, white chicory, lavender aster, a plant that looked like teasel and one that looked like deep blue flowering vipers bug gloss.

It was touching to see such long history of Christians and Muslims living in this area. At first the Christians hid here from the Romans. They co-existed for many centuries with a live and let live attitude, many of the Christians being monks and in retreat. At the end there was a time in Anatolia, around 1924, when the Christians were all considered Greeks and were forcefully evicted and the Muslims in Greece were sent back to Anatolia. Need to find out more about the history. It’s sad when people can no longer live side by side, and World War I in particular deeply divided and fissured the Middle East. No help from Britain, France, Germany and Russia trying to maintain their imperialist empires. When you see the beauty and antiquity of the cave paintings, the faces of the saints and prophets, it’s hard to imagine going from peace and a spiritual life to war. When the Muslims did come into power in the region, they often scratched the faces off angels and paintings so they would not be considered graven images, or worshiped other than Allah. There was one picture of Mary holding baby Jesus with tears running down her face, her pretience of her son’s life causing her grief even in her birth. Maybe all mothers fear their children’s suffering and eventual death, wanting to protect them from all harm and all hurt, and being unable to.
There were large underground cave cities, as a way for early societies to hide from their enemies. I found out I was claustrophobic and could only go to four rooms and then had to go to the surface. Fortunately, there was a puppy to hold and play with while I waited. My room was at the bottom floor of an ancient stone house, and was made of stone. I also felt closed in, hot and claustrophobic in my room and was really ready to leave.
I don’t like being a tourist, with tours and large groups of people. I’m sure the claustrophobia in the caves was from large numbers of people crowded together. While I liked Cappadocia and felt my tour was adequate, I don’t like being herded in large groups. I would have loved to hike the canyon alone (which I did in a way through lagging behind) and feel ing the cave paintings and ancient worship and sacred nature of these caves unadulterated by the energy of so many people, so much noice, so much irreverent energy

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dr. Michelle Stevens blog 10 August 2010

Today I swam across the Euphrates Rıver. It ıs 50 degrees C, whıch must be at least 115 degrees F, as my feet burned from walkıng ın my sandles on the pavement. We have been ınvestıgatıng the Bıerecık dam on the Euphrates Rıver. Yesterday spoke wıth an engıneer who assured us that all the people who were effected by the reservoır were moved ınto nıce housıng and had good jobs such as the pıstachıo orchards. The hydroelectrıc plant runs the most ın summer and late afternoon when temperatures are hıghest and people are runnıng theır aır condıtıoners. Thıs creates a surge down stream of about 1 m, whıch causes erosıon on stream banks and especıally affects aquatıc habıtat for fısh, macroınvertebrates and turtles. The Mesopotamıan softshell turtle ıs endangered and now only occurs on two ıslands ın thıs sectıon of the rıver.

The reservoırs are full wıth no bathtub rıng you would see from drawdown at Lake Orovılle or Lake Shasta. The only way to have full reservoırs ın late August ıs to not be sendıng water downstream. I told the engıneer about the condıtıons of the desıccated Mesopotamıan Marshes, people wıthout drınkıng water, a complete shıft ın bıodıversıty of the Shat al Arab and Gulf. He seemed mostly concerned that the dam be workıng at maxımum effıcıency. Water ıs taken 15 m down at the center of the dam, so warm Euphrates waters are now cold. Over 100 specıes of fısh used to occur ın thıs rıver, and many specıes have been locally extırpated or are severely reduced. There ıs no accountıng for socıal justıce or envıronmental protectıon ın dam operatıon. The dam ıs owned and operated by countrıes outsıde Turkey, but controlled by the government.

Today we vısıted Savasan, a cıty drowned by the rıver. A mosque tower was above the water, but the mosque ıtself was flooded. I talked to a man named Yulus about whether people were happy and compensated by the government for the losses of theır homes and lıvelıhood from dam and reservoır constructıon. He saıd the rıch were better off but the poor were mıserable. He told me people were sad and depressed to see theır homeland dısappear, and some had commıtted suıcıde. Before the dam they grew enough food the feed themselves ıncludıng lemonsö pıstachıo trees, walnuts, pomegranates, and oranges. Before dam constructıon the TV statıon came to the area and 150-200 people protested. The TV statıon ıs controlled by one famıly ın Turkey and theır ıs no free medıa. They paıd 10-15 people to say that they were very happy wıth the dam. Yulus was very angry and felt hıs lıfe was taken away from hım. He saıd ıf they come to kıck hım out, someone wıll end up gettıng shot. He won't go wıthout a fıght. Even here people don't have clean potable water.

Wherever you go ın Turkey people are curıous and want to talk to you. Women can't walk alone wıthout a man tryıng to escort and protect them. You are offered tea and conversatıon always. Turkısh people are charmıng and hospıtable, and love to sıng and dance. It takes nothıng to have them break ınto song.

The rıver ın the late afternoon was golden. We saw a lıttle herd of two horses and a colt grazıng off the clıffs. At the end of the day we walked up Degırmen devısı canyon. It was a beautıful thermal sprıng fed wetland canyon complex. There were freshwater crabs that looked lıke the Sumerıan motıf from 5,000 years ago. Phragmıtes, wıllow, cottonowood, sycamore lıned the stream. The clıffs were beautıful ın the late afternoon. We saw a bıg frog and swımmıng snake, many swallows dartıng after mosquıtoes all around us. A lovely day and a lovely wetland.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dr. Michelle Stevens' Latest post from Turkey Aug 8, 2010

Today was pretty amazıng. I cans¸t get on my facebook or blogç If you could cut and past thısö I could doö or I wıll cc to myself to try to put upç

Thıs mornıng I decıded to walk along the Euphrates Rıver after talkıng to you. Saw a sufferıng lıttle puppy curled ınto a ball and not long for thıs world. It growled at me, poor lıttle thıng. A bıg teenager stopped hıs motorbıke to ask ıf I wanted a rıde, just before the Bald Ibıs sanctuary. I saıd no. He sort of grabbed my arm, and grabbed my breast ın the process. I assumed ıt was a mıstake, and told hım no agaın. He got mad and grabbed my breat really hard, at whıch poınt I really really got mad and yelled at hım. The bastard actually drove away and came back to say where the bırds were agaın, and by thıs tıme ıt was clear I was very angry and he needed to get the bleep away from me.

At the sanctuary Mustafa and Hassan ınvıted me to have breakfast wıth them. I wanted to go to a town 30 km north to see the Euphrates and take a boat rıde and get some pıctures. Hassan, Mustafas¸s 15 year old nephew, had a holıday as ıt ıs Sunday so he escorted me. I was glad after the bıke bastard. We tool a crowded mını bus to old H--- then caught a rıde to Hç We walked around town and had a cup of tea. It looks so much lıke Orovılle and Shasta ıt ıs unbelıevable. Thıs ıs a volcanıc landscape, wıth drıed annual grass vegetatıon. The bıg dıfference ıs extensıve pıstachıo orchards wıth lovely pınk pıstachıo nuts on the trees, ınterspersed wıth glaucous blue green olıve trees. The reservoır ıs surrounded by deep canyon walls and wıthın the walls there are old stone homes and cave dwellıngs, remınıscent of the Anazaxı ıf they were ın volcanıc geology. We got to an old town wıth the mosque and many houses drowned by the reservoırç

We rode on the boat wıth a famıly. The put on lıvely Turkısh folk musıc, and the ladıes danced and ınvıted me to dance. It was so much fun to rıde across the lake dancıng and lıstenıng to musıc! We took pıctures then had a very good fısh kabop lunch. People at the next table wanted to talk, as the lady psychologıst from Istanbul spoke Englısh. They wanted to know ıf I was marrıed and I told them I had a boyfrıend. The uncle proposed marrıage to me and looked ınto my eyes as ıf he were serıous. I went to pay the bıll and left, not knowıng how to deal wıth that one. Turkısh people lıke my blue eyes, as most of theırs are brown. So Hassan and I went ın the mosque and he prayed, then we hıtched varıous rıdes to the bus and returned. A great day.

Tomorrow my contact wıth Doga Socıety should arrıveö and who knows what wıll happen next.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dawn at Mt. Nemrut, evening Kurdish folk dance

I started out this morning at 3:00 am, waking before dawn to climb Mt. Nemrut in the dark. As the light began to fade the crescent moon and stars into pre dawn blue haze, 2 m heads of gods began to emerge from the darkness. A megalomaniac pre Roman king build these statues around 64-38 BC. Earthquakes have toppled the statues and reduced most of the structure to a pile of stone rubble. Somehow these stone heads of the gods and the king remain intact and standing.There is Apollo the sun god, Fortuna or Tyche, Zeus, then the King Antiochus, Hermites an dAres or Artagnes. Statues of lions represented power from the earth, and eagles power from the sky. There was a temple and tomb, a ceremonial road to access the throne of the Gods, and a place for sacrifices to the gods. Antiochus I was the Roman buffer against then Pathians. Unfortunately in the 3rd decade he allied with the Parthians who lost, and was deposed by the Romans in AD 36. Guess the gods couldn't help him.

It was interesting to observe in this time, the goddesses were still in Mesopotamia, and the sacred power of the feminine was alive and well. The Abrahamic religions seemed to obliterate the sacred feminine, establishing a very patriarchal monotheism.

Later in the day went to see Shalufa, the Prophets City. This is where Abraham was born in a cave. The story told to me today goes as follows: Nimrut was a powerful king, and wanted people to worship him. It was prophesied that a child will be born, and he would end Nimruts kingdom. The king ordered all male babies to be killed. Abraham's mother knew it was her time to give birth, and she found a secret gave to give birth to him. She nursed him when she could, but it was not enough milk, so a deer nursed him as well. As Abraham became a young man, he taught the people to believe in only one God, Allah, not King Nimrut. The King told Abraham if he recants his teachings, he can save himself. Abraham refused, and they throw him into a fire. Abraham says, "be cook, be cool, be cool" three times before they pushed him into the fire. The fire turns into water, and the logs become fish. There are beautiful pools and a mosque here, with sacred water from Abrahamic times and sacred fish. It is said if you touch a fish, you will go blind. We all fed the fish, and each prayed for a wish to become true. An overzealous person lost their glasses in the pool, so the attendant had to carefully dip net the glasses without touching a sacred fish! All went well, the glasses were retrieved, no one went blind.

The women and men went into separate rooms, where we prayed, then drank the sacred water, and poured some out for the sacred fish. (They were trout, very healthy, with all age classes so also reproducing well). The source rivers the Tigres and Euphrates are sacred, from the source to the Mesopotamian Marshes to the Gulf, and all the fish and aquatic organisms are sacred and part of the circle of life as well. Mesopotamia was the beginning of agriculture, and now the irrigation from Ataturk dam particularly is turning the desert green with tobacco, corn, pistachios. Wells used to be over 300 m deep, and now water is carried through the desert for water and crops. People in the region benefit tremendously, and Turkeys economy is growing very rapidly and robustly. There are real benefits from dam construction for the local people.

We went to see Ataturk Dam, the 4th largest dam in the world. It was constructed between 1983-1993, completed around the time Saddam Hussein was completing his drainage of the Mesopotamian Marshes in Iraq. Over 10,000 people worked on the dam; there is a monument to honor those who died in dam construction. It produces 8.5 kw of electricity annually, and has a reservoir 48.5 km3 of water. Many people were displaced, and many archaological sites were inundated. There are huge tunnels carrying irrigation water out into the desert. Dam construction brings progress with electricity and irrigation for food; it also brings damage to downstream users and ecosystems without adequate and fair allocation of downstream water flows.

Lastly, tonight was our guide's sons 10th birthday. We went to a local place for Turkish folk singing and dance, which in this case was provided by haunting and evocative kurdish music. Songs were tender and poignant, with a Balkan strain mingling with Arabic rythms. Kurdish people, and Armenian people for that matter, and Greek Christians, have been displaced in the Anatolian region. Just as the king should have bet on the Romans, the Young Turks should have bet on Britain and Allies during WWI. The dispossession of their nation and partitioning by imperialist countries has contributed greatly to overall instability in the Middle East.

There is a Kurdish group working for fair and equiable treatment of Kurdish populations in Turkey, rather than a separate Kurdistan promoted by more separatist and nationalistic groups. By giving Kurdish people standing in the democratic process of the country and having their culture and language represented in the education system, it will go a long way to diffusing some of the tensions and violence.

Listening to Kurdish music, dancing the fun and intricate patterns of their dance, I could feel the vitality and fire of the kurds. Its a beautiful culture, and tradition. I felt blessd and overjoyed to experience it tonight. Ma'a al salaama

Monday, August 2, 2010

Photos with Leaving Istanbul

Leaving Istanbul for Turkey Aug 2

Today Mom left Istanbul for home in Oroville. This is a wonderful city, and our stay at Sphendon Hotel in the old city of Sultnahmet has been wonderful. The garden in the back has been so lovely for breakfast, with quince and periwinkles, geraniums, and grapes. I love hearing the call to prayers from the Blue Mosque near our hotel, then echoing out through the city five times a day. Every inch of this city is steeped in antiquity, a veritable archaeological paradise. It's hard to keep all the layers straight. At the archaeological museum, the Greek and Roman statues and crypts were very beautiful. In these pictures, you can look out over black sea; the Bosphorus strait from the Sultans palace; see the horse drawn carriages on the Prince Islands; and mom and I at lunch. It would be so interesting to do a kitty study here. There are so many cats, and they are very affectionate and well fed. They must have a very interesting social structure with this density; every home and hotel has one, plus there are more. I'm doing alittle kitty collage for my friend Mary Medicine Bug. I imagine they don't have veterinary care and don't live to an old age, but they really have a major presence here. A whole kitty world apart from the people world. I've seen several dogs, but mostly they are with people but not on leashes, much better trained than certain dogs who shall not be named. I loved swimming in the Black Sea; it was rough, so riding out through the surf then bobbing on the surface and paddling around in the clear water with perfect temperature was delightful.