Patnos: Why Patnos?

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2009

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Flag of Turkey  , Ağrı Province,
Friday, May 16, 2008

Today I have come along the north shore of Lake Van. To a miserable little town of Patnos. By miserable I don't mean to put it down, just to describe its appearance. This is a very poor, hardscrabble area of Turkey. The people still maintain a friendliness, all the same. I stuck it here because it was mid-afternoon when I got here, and threatening rain. My objective is Malazgirt (usually referred to in English as Manzikert, ie., "On the 26th of August 1071, an army under the command of the Byzantine emperor Romanus IV Diogenes (1068-1071AD) was defeated on the borders of Armenia by the army of the Seljuk Turkish Sultan, Alp Arslan (1063-1072AD). Since that time, historians have identified the Battle of Manzikert as the mortal blow that led to the inevitable collapse of the Byzantine Empire." []). The location of Malazgirt is a little further along the way from Patnos. But was thinking I didn't want to get stuck out there. So I've got a passable hotel room here (see picture. You might not think it "passable"), and will see what the weather is like in the morning. If not good, I'll continue north to Agri (the g is silent), and stay to the mainlines to Samsun. If the weather is good, I'll just head out and take my chances that I can somehow (hitchhike/autostop/mini-van bus?) be on-going.

As stated above, Malazgirt is where the Selcuk Turks beat the Byzantines and redirected the history of Anatolia. So, that's what I do: go see these places and put them in mind's eye, desolate though this one apparently is to be.

Here, after securing a hotel room, I went out walking to locate the road out of town in the direction of Malazgirt--which I did--and in the process became a pied piper to some of the local urchins. One could speak some English, and they eventually steered me to their school to ostensibly meet the English teacher. I went along because, well, what else? I don't know; I ended up in a office with a lot of guys, one of whom spoke English pretty well; but I don't know if he was the English teacher or not. They took me on a visit to one classroom (and some urine-smelling halls), then took my leave. Actually, I believe they were self-conscious about the smell (commenting on it), and that sort of ended the tour. (Well, I wondered later, Why don't you just just get together and wash the place out? I don't think fast enough on my feet to have asked them that directly.)

I have noticed that the Turks seem to be of two kinds: Those who seem to do nothing but sit about, and those who work VERY hard.

Same little kid and his troop directed me to this internet cafe.

The Next Day:

In the morning the sky looked pretty ominous in the direction of Malazgirt. There had been some thunder and lightening, and some squalls. And I almost decided not to go at all, much less go and continue on in that direction. But I finally told myself that I shouldn't abandon my root plan after coming this far. So I decided to leave my gear in the hotel, and take a side trip to Malazgirt; then return to Patnos, and continue on to Erzurum.

I arrived at the dolmus stand at the edge of town to see a dolmus with a Malazgirt sign in the front window. I went in to the little waiting room next by, and addressed the first guy with a question as to when it would be leaving. He mumbled something to me--probably in Kurdish, anyway--and indicated for  me to sit down. About a half second after I sat down, he got up and went for the dolmus, having detected some, obscure-to-me, vibes in the air, I suppose. I followed. And we left.

The trip to Malazgirt didn't take long, and  the dolmus parked right across the street from the castle. In the castle keep a young, one-armed fellow fetched a key, and led me to the top of the one remaining tower. After a look around, we descended, and he treated me to a tea. Then I walked around town a little bit, mostly searching for a "situational" photo of the castle. Without success. The town was more substantial than I had imagined. And it even had a better looking hotel (or were there two?) than the one I stayed in in Patnos. So, after all, I could have come on the first day at no loss.

To get back to Patnos I didn't want to go to the dolumus stand, then more than likely be sat by to await the next run. Rather, I headed to the edge of the small town to try and hitchhike back to Patnos.

I had only about a 15 minute wait before a trucker gave me a lift. Then from Patnos I took a regular bus on up to Erzurum. And I only had to wait about 5 minutes for that one. The Turkish Travel Pixies again! The truck driver, in the pictures, looks pretty grim. But that's what Turks do . . . . for pictures. I mean, he gave me a ride, and he was a nice guy.

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