All Hallow's Eve 2012, OR You Say 'Halfeti.' I think 'Rumkale.'

October 31st. All Hallow's Eve- more commonly known the world over as Halloween.

My favorite hollyday. It's originally thought to have pagan roots and celebrated as harvest festivals, as well as a festival of the dead (souls). If it is to be viewed as a Celtic Samhain, then it is seen as the time when this plane of existence (our world) opens the door wide enough for all the dead souls and other beings (faeries, maybe even unicorns, etc.) to enter into our existence (temporarily). Samhain marked the end of harvest season. A big feast ensues and the souls of the dead come back to their houses on this day for the feast. It is even thought that there is a place setting at the table for the deceased relative... Now, with all the good souls arriving into our world, some bad or evil souls 'get through' as well as the tale goes. So it is thought today that the modern Halloween of dressing up on costumes comes from this ancient ritual of dressing up so the bad spirits wouldn't recognize you.

All Hallow's Eve is also my favorite Hollyday because it is the day that my father was born on.  I am blessed with 2 great events on this day!

Being that I'm in what I consider to be a rural area in Turkey, there is no overt Halloween tradition present here. I did plan ahead though. A few weeks ago I was out with some girlfriends and we decided that we were going to have traditional Ottoman era outfits made for us. We each picked out a different color fabric and VOILA- 2 weeks later they were ready to be picked up.

It was a joyous occasion- picking up our costumes. We pranced around the bazaar with them on and celebrated with beer at Ekim 29- our favorite watering hole over here. As a side note, 'Ekim 29' is translated as October 29th- Turkey's Republic or Independence Day. It is a huge holiday throughout the country- as is our 4th of July.

We picked up our gorgeous costumes the day before we hit the road en route to Hatay and Cappadocia- which I intend to blog about this weekend... But I digress... back to the story...

So what did we do? We took our costumes with us of course. Da Girls gotta get mileage out of these splendid outfits- know what I mean? 

Don't worry, I'm getting to the main point of all this soon- I think...

Ahhhh yes. I remember now. Halfeti. How does All Hallow's Eve tie into my Halfeti story- which I haven't even got to yet...

Okay it's getting late so is time to just cut to the chase: tonight I'm thinking about my father, which makes me think about Halloween, which makes me think about my wicked cool Ottoman era costume, which makes me think about my Kurban Bayram trip to Hatay and Cappadocia where we all wore our costumes around the natural landscape in the most random of places on and off the road... So now I am blogging about Halfeti because my Halfeti trip happened  BEFORE Bayram- and I want to blog about that trip.

I realize this prolly doesn't make sense to you guys, and that's alright. It's not my problem if you can't follow along with where my mind is not only at, but where it's going... heh heh.

Enough folly. I'm getting serious now. That means no more typing so with no further ado, I will commence with the pictures of... Halfeti. Well, I first need to give you all a BRIEF history of the place:

So there's this castle, Rumkale, at this place- Halfeti. Halfeti is about 1.5 hours east from Gaziantep, near Şanliurfa. It is on the Euphrates River, which along with the Tigris River further east makes up the Fertile Crescent. So Halfeti is famous for being ancient. It is also famous in modern times for an entirely different reason: In the 1990s many dams were constructed throughout central/east/southeast Anatolia. These are part of the GAP project as part of the Turkish government's economic and agricultural incentive program.

As with any government endeavor, with pleasure comes pain- am I right?  The town of Halfeti was, unfortunately, going to be impacted so severely that the entire town would be underwater once the waters were damned by Birecik. Now Halfeti is partially submerged, and the town had to be moved away inland further.  What remains is an eerie ecene: clear waters on calm days where one can see beneath the surface to the remnants of the city. As well, there is a minaret  that remains partially above the surface of the water, yet the attached mosque is well beneath the surface. It is so beautiful in its staggering history. Here is this monument to a people's faith, a mosque- or cami- which is submerged due to something that is supposed to bring a better way of life (a dam to increase economic and agricultural endeavors) to the people, etc. I find the dichotomy interesting. The survival of the minaret is just magnificent in it's singular majesty almost appearing to be hovering just above the surface of the (now) reservoir.

In terms of the geology, the stark contrast between the deepest of blues water and the nakedness of the surrounding hillsides dotted with abandoned dwellings cut into the stone... it just transports you back into time. As you take a boat tour of the area, it is like your personal time machine where you see into the future and you think you have found the secrets to time travel. Yea I know, pretty cool trip right?

I forgot to mention Rumkale- the fortress high above the lake situated atop a rocky outcropping. It is Byzantine and Armenian in origin. Oh Zeugma is also in the vicinity. Zeugma is an ancient Greek & then Roman city that was 're-discovered' during excavation of the Birecik Dam.  Loads of mosaic fragments were discovered during the initial work. Along comes the archaeologists (YAY!) and then come the giant mosaics, some of which were re-constructed. As with any archeological project, the archaeologists are working just in front of the bulldozers.  This project being no different, the salvage work had to occur rapidly because the mosaics were in danger of becoming submerged by the dam. If this happened, and it surely partially did, major monuments to a previous civilization is lost. Disappears. Poof it's gone. Nothing to see over here folks. Move along... Aha modern civilization is indeed a bitch isn't it...

Okay I'm burnt out with my narrative. Pictures now!

L AND L and Brandon, our resident ancient historian/goofball all around good guy

Farahnaz- otherwise known as the Azari Princess

Selin- our hostess with the mostess

All smiles the 1st half hour of the ride- until your body realizes you are indeed on a mini-bus...

So... which way do we go?

our first sighting...

Yeni Halfeti (the new city)

rare bald Ibis birds only found here in Turkey and Egypt and 1 other place that I forgot. Anyone reading this remember???


zombies headed to the tea trough... heh heh

I want this ride... wicked car for sure

our ringleader and myself

trying to do cool tricks with my camera here...

Brandon telling us like it is- or how it was in terms of ancient Halfeti... history geeks rock

more photographic poe-tree... get it? Poetry...

Food! Most peeps got the local fish, but I still LOVE patrican kebap... Nom Nom Nom

Spency, D-bird & Thurston- posers...

caught my eye

I like pinwheels. I like Farahnaz. They are both in my picture for a reason.

Our captain and co-captain Selda (Selin's cool cousin who set it all up)

boat is approaching some abnormal activity. I can just feel it. Something is out there...

"Thar she blows"

Upon closer inspection it is in fact not a white whale, but a minaret sticking out of the (flood)waters of the Birecik Dam

cave life. I love cafe life. I want to live in a cave. A cave would be better than my current apartment honestly.

view from cave

cave stage

it's an awesome sight

stowaway on board ship. Kitty gave up its Halfeti citizenship to become a Gaziantep feline

another cami near the harbor.

heading into an amazing sunset after a ful-filled day spent exploring ancient ruins with friends here in the Cradle of Civilization.

Well... what did you think? No smart-ass grammatical comments/corrections either...

I always think my blog posts will only take an hour to produce… I'm never on time here.
 You all owe me a beer.