My usually strong and greedy stomach betrayed me in Erzurum. Was it the delicious takeout Mantı, or the melon? Or or or. A violent and sustained purging petered into bilious, uncertain days. I was thankful for a bed and running water, feebly grateful for my hosts' kind nursing. Sickness waned and cabinfever set in. On the third night I took my bike, skittish without its impedimentia, for an unsteady ride around the town beneath a bluegray darkness. In the centre I met two French bicycles also touring indefinitely and also becalmed in Erzurum for the Iran papers. We snatched a chat from the evening traffic and the excitement fostered there for the perils and potentials of winter's road sufficed to break my torpor. I went alone to one of these dimlit, furtive little alkol shops to test my guts and celebrate. It is apparently verboten to drink beer in view so I perched behind the warm fridge for cheery, linguistically stunted exchanges with the proprietors and each of their customers, skulking or drunken blasé. Several bought me further bottles and I was there a while, full of myself.
Two days later we hitched two lorries South to Dıyabakir, the first vehicle stopping each time. Here we have the usual arrangement; a friend's friend's boyfriend has surrendered his flat entire. I'm no longer overwhelmed by this. We were knocked awake prompt yesterday morning, another distal friend had taken the day off work to meet and entertain us with a city tour. First stop his junior school workplace for breakfast. We were besieged in his office, mobbed in the corridors and playground. If I was obvious amongst Greeks I am a superstar amongst Kurdish children. It feels a liberal kind of place here, if not quite a multikulti there is a sense of accepted otherness. Save heresay I was ignorant of Kurds; in person I like them very much. We toured thick, almost unbroken basalt city walls with a view of the Tigris and its legendarily fertile gardens, heard Amharic singing in an ancient Syrian Orthodox chapel and excited yet more children in the old town backstreets. I haven't my appetite back yet and felt dizzily weak by afternoon. I'm assured there is far more to see today but I'm already hankering a bit for my bike, garaged back in Erzurum. It's been a week already but there's little if anything I can do to hasten consulatory process; I pester my Iranian travel agent on Gmail chat and fret instead about what to put in my Tbilisi-bound Fedex box of winter supplies. The almost hot-to-touch puffer jacket from Max, Kris and Neko's wooly hat..? Generous friends, what about Seb's SteriPen? I'm inclined to think so after the recent episode.