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Alexander's Travel Journals

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Journey to Baghdad
from Europe
Via Der-el-Zor
Oct. 1900
Our Journey to Baghdad by Mossoul
from Deir el Zor

21st October. Deir 1900

My wife being still unwell & weak

I preferred to go to Bagdad from here by Mossoul

as we will have only eight days only with the

caravan to this last place.& from their we will

have to go by Kelek to Baghdad. It was very hard for

me to decide The muleteer to come by this way as he is engaged

from Aleppo to Bagdad direct, anyhow I enduced

him to undertake this route by giving him

a £ extra.

The Archbishop Monseigneur Rahmani is going

also to Mossoul thus we decided to accompany

him. The hour of our departure was announced

for noon. Therefore we hastely packed our luggage

& other things and at 12 exactly we left the house

of Mr. Razooki Dinha (who is coming with us) & we

went on foot to the other side of Deir & crossed

the small bridge & went again further more

were their is again another crossing of a small

embranchement of the Euphrates, but this fearful

crossing is made by a kind of small barge

all dirty & chapless. We arrived to this place

at half past twelve & stayed till 4 awaiting

the crossing of our mules & luggage. we were

very annoyed thus awaiting & incircled by

hundreds of savage arabs & brutes. At last

the Archbishop arrived from town with a

hundred persons and at 4½ p.m. we crossed

the river to the other side where all the caravan

was awaiting with our tektersin & the cariage

of M Rahmani.

22.10.900 We started all together at 5 p.m. exactly

towards the plain desert & we intended to march

till the morning as our station is about twelve

hours. Marie mounted the horse & I walked

till 7, then Marie stayed in the tektersin & I mounted

the horse. At 10 p.m., we felt anyhow hungry, then

I gave my horse to Razook & I enterred the tektersin

where we dined & stayed uneasy till 4. a.m.

exactly when we arrived to our station

called El-Sooioir الَُصَّوَّرَّ & we put only 11 hours

from Deir instead of 12 . Hasstily we put up the

tent & tried to sleep but at 7 we were again

up as the sounds of the mules were insupportable.

At 8 we had our tea & afterwards Monseigneur

Rahmani came to see us. We are here on the

bank of the small river Khabour خابور which

is about 25 yards large. This river comes from

Aboo el Ain & continues till Miadin & unites with the Euphrates & we will

have to cross it tomorrow in a place called Shaddadi.

At 1 p.m. we arranged again to start &

hurry our journey, therefore after 5 minutes we

moved & went towards a Western direction keeping

on our right hand the river Khabour for an hour.

The desert here is very dry except near the bank

of the river where their are very seldom some

arabs with very small plantations of Maїse

or Idra. The plains in these places are all

infested with the Shammar and Iniza Arabs &

today at 4 p.m. we witnessed from a far distance

these two renowned tribes in dispute & the Shammar

people have taken many Camels item from

the Iniza & these latter were on their pursuit

with hundreds of horses.

Our caravan is escorted with the gendarmes,

two of them have gone two days ago with the greater

part of the big caravan & await for us tomorrow

& here we are only with about 15 mules & 8

gendarmes. I was very tired this afternoon

from this successive march but anyhow

at half past seven we reached our

station called Bregda برقده on the river

Khabour again & exactly opposit the commen-

cement of a rang of mountains on the left.

Here we found our big Caravan e has not

yet gone & crossed the Khabour before us.

Our arrival here was very nasty one, the

darkness was terrible & we ere all pell

mell with so much people & mules about

200 beasts. We heard that we will start

again from here tonight at 3 in the morning

therefore I found it useless to put up the

tent to us but only ordered a hasty dinner

& slept outside on the bedsteads & Mary

slept in the tektersin. It was till 10½ p.m.

that I was awaken & could not sleep. At

12 the majority of the Caravan moved & started

before us in order to be able to cross the river

before our arrival as the crossing will surely

occupy a whole day.

23rd October,

At 3 a.m. we were up & after drinking our

tea we prepared to start again. At 4½ a.m.

we all moved & tooked again a Western direction

but it was rather cold & I preferred to stay

with Mary in the Tektersin & give the horse to Rezooki.

This morning the Archbishop felt unwell &

preferred to move from El Ragda at day light & as

he is in a carriage he will surely catch us in the

way. I think he is thus because yesterday he

tooked a bath in the river Khaboor, he told

me this when we dined together with him.

Indeed all us of feel very uneasy from this

kind of hurry march & complain of it but

from another part it seems that M. Rahmani

wants to reach Mossoul in 7 days but I do

never agree with this as we will be dead!

Nearly all our march was near the bank of

the river. At noon exactly we sighted suddenly on

coming down from a hill, the fort of gendarmes

& our station El Shaddadi, we dismounted

between the mules, the heat & dust. A part

of the big caravan which left us at midnight

is still here as the manner of crossing in a

simple Shaktoor or boat is absolutely fearful if

not dreadful to the extreme. The boat 3 or 4 yards

& 2 large is the only mean with wich all

the caravan has to cross to the other side

& no more than 4 or 5 mules can cross each

time. Here I felt exceedingly angry & hungry

& I more than once quarrelled with the brute

the boat hierer who do not permit our

kit to go to the other side in order to put

the tent and take at least a rest. After a

terrible annoyance with all these beasts of

people we could cross at 2½ p.m. & put

the tent & eat something light as we had nothing

of cooked. I hear now that M. Rahmani

wants to start again at sunset & march all

the night! but I do never accept & am decided

to go & tell him that we are without any rest

& we require to sleep & eat a little comfortably.

We heard afterwards that we will sleep

here & start very early. we dined early too &

turned down.

24 October. At 2 a.m. we were up & drunk

tea and at 2½ were ready to start but

the people of the Patriarch were not yet in order & we aught

to await till 3 when we started on our

way in the plain desert. keeping the Khabour

river on our back but thirty minutes after

our departure we had to stop as we had

lost the way & nobody in the caravan could know

it , we had to dismount in the darkness & send

back a Zaptieh to Shaddadi where is again M.

Rahmani with six Zaptiehs who know better

the route. I was very much disgusted & the

cold wind catched us with clouds & lightening

& we are lost knowing not where to go. I had here

a terrible balyache with little fever & only in an

hour the Zaptieh returned & showed us the route .

Rain began to come in showers on us & I

feard to be all wet but in an hour the clouds

dispersed & the weather began to be very fresh

& nice. We continued anyhow to march &

march till 4 p.m. thus making a killing

march of 13 hours which rendered all of us

tired to the extreme. At last we encamped

on a salt spring very narrow & very dirty

all covered with green. This station is called

Ksebeh كصيبه & not fare from a rang of

mountains in front of us. At the end

of this rang is the town of Sinjar سنجار the well

known place & we will try to reach it tomor-

row if we can go & make a march of 15

hours directly . The desert here is very

dry & not a single person is to be seen

& I feel very weary but I hope we will reach

Mossoul in 4 days more & be off of all these troubles.

M. Rahamni who were unwell since two days

is better today. We dined at 7 & turned in at

9 p.m.

25 October. We were awaken at 4 a.m. and

at 4½ we moved in the darkness. Today we have

to make not only a long station but all the

way from here till Sinjar is infested with

murderous brigands & marauders of Yzidis يزيدي

who never let a caravan traverse their

country without molesting them & ask ransoms

anyhow we pushed forward with 4 gendarmes

the remainder have been kept behind with

the Pattrack who travel at 6 everyday on

account of his carriage. At sunrise we

were already beginning to march on the left of

the magnificent mountain of the Yzidis & which

we will have to pass only in Sinjar day after

tomorrow. At about half past seven we remarked

in the distance for the first time some Yzidis working

& ploughing but soon three murderous looking Yzidis

come to us from the Mountain with their

Martini on the shoulder & began to walk with

the Caravan but as our Caravan was unusually

a big one & was at that moment dispersed

one of the gendarmes (knowing what the three Yzidis

mean by coming to us) sounded the

trumpet to collect all the gendarmes & the

caravan but the three brigands approached

some people & let them understand

that they want ransom from all the caravan.

Seeing this we all stopt in one spot & sounded

again the trumpet to let the other gendarmes with

the Archbishop to hear us but when the 3 Yzidis

saw us decided to make no attention to them

they turned their heads & returned to their village which

indeed very interesting . This village or rather inns

excavated in the mountain is in a large valley

& from outside is nothing to be seen. Further

more some others came & tryed to ask the

same thing at last at 9 a mounted Yzidis ap-

proached us & decididly pressed on the head of

the gendarme to follow us but we treatened him

& he left. This place is very dangerous & more

than one the Turks fought the Yzidis & lost & now

they are king of themselves & everybody fear them,

all along the way they have built protects of

stones high about 3 yards with holes & from there

they fire on the people.

The way here is very bad & full of stones

of all sizes & we meet two sweet springs until

we arrived near a Yzidis village called El Jaddala

الجدَّال& encamped at 2 p.m. on a very sweet

spring coming from the mountain but as soon as we

rested we were surrounded by all the villagers

which are all Yzidis & few Arabs. All the caravan

have so much fear of these that they never

tell them a word & let them come everywhere

& some Yzidis came to me & inspected every

article for an hour but I was disgusted

with them & asked some gendarmes to kick

them off & they did this . At 6 M. Razook & I

went to the village to see it, it is indeed very

curiously built. the houses are inns covered

with wood & mud & large logs of wild figue

trees are supporting the roof, they are dirty & all

of them fierclooking persons. At night all

the caravan kept a good watch the Yzidis

are robbers of first rate.

26th October. At 5 a.m. we were up & packed

again our luggage & tent & at 5½ proceeded from

this fearful spot of many fightings & tooked

the way to Sinjar which is not far from here.

We marched among many stones & croocked places until

8 a.m. when we passed another Yzidis village

called Sijac سيجاق& at 9½ we approached

Sinjar which is on the mountain & visible from

a distance of one hour & half. We encamped near

the town in a very dirty place & on a hight of about

100 yards, their is here a very sweet spring & some

gardens but the inhabitants of this place are

most savage & impolite, Though their is here a

garrison of Turkish soldiers protecting the arabs from

the infuriated Yzidis. I had a dispute

with the head of the Soldiers who objected my taking

snapshots of the places, he was so angry

that he wanted to confiscate my Camera.

It is pity indeed that we are here among

such fierce worst than savages people & I

had to convince him that my Camera is

merely a glass through which I only look

a little neater than the eyes,. he was obliged

to go with the fifty brutes others & keep me quiet.

I can not discribe how I am disgusted here

especially from these stupid manners

I feel taking pity on me & on Marie when

I think of Sweet Europe & its liberty, I am

getting so tired so tired from these savages

& brute animals. At 5 p.m. we went to see

M. Rahmani who is quite well today & he is in

the village in a Khan, we passed an hour but he

desired us to dine with his priests as he is

invited somewhere & he likes to enjoy ourselve

together. at 8 we returned to the tent & turned


27th October. Saturday.

At 5 a.m. we were awaken & after

half an hour we started towards another station

keeping Sinjar behind us, we descended the

mountain & marched on a very stony

road but soon we were on a very smooth

ground & passed about three or four springs

but of dirty & bitter water & we had to cross them

sometimes with difficulty so much they are

broad . Nothing of particular to note about

the rest. At 2½ p.m. we arrived at a place

called El Abbar العبرafter 9 hours march we

encamped on a green place & on a spring of salt

water. Near to this place their is an aban-

doned village full of strow about ten tones

all dispersed, the story of this is very remarquable.

It seems that the poor inhabitants of this village

which were perhaps 500 persons have been

attacked some weeks ago by the Shammar &

many of them have been killed & the other

after being molested very fearfully they

fled with their lives leaving the village as it

stands, it makes pity to imagine this

fate & when all the caravan rested all

the muleteers swarmed on this village

& tooked as many strow as they could for

the beasts. We are here only 18 hours distance

from Mossoul & hope to enter it day after

tomorrow early in the morning.

28th October. Sunday


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