Our Sepia Saturday theme image this week is of an old water mill and the photograph was taken 136 years ago by the Victorian photographer, Francis Bedford. It is part of the Flickr Commons stream on the National Media Museum.
One of our favorite visits was to Hama where we saw the enormous groaning and moaning water wheels. Here's a video of them - not mine unfortunately, but one that gives you a feel of the enormity of the wheels and the ever present groaning that gives the city it's unique character.
Distorted by the weight of the water and the endless rotation, the wooden wheels sound like ruminating prehistoric animals, creaking and splashing as they turn. The Norias, as they are known, date back to the 13th century and are thought to be some of the oldest water wheels in the world. There were 17 of these in and around Hama on the Oronte river. They were no longer used for irrigation but played a huge role in the cultural heritage of a Syria that sadly, is no more.
"A constipated Tyrannosaurus" our guide and driver, Abdul, suggested about the noise, laughing heartily. On the day of our visit, we ate ice cream at his favorite shop nearby and enjoyed an hour's rest in the sun, relishing his company.
|Sightseeing with Abdul|
|Abdul, a patient man|
|In Hama, taking pictures of the wheels|
|Our wheel photo|
|Choosing ice cream in Hama|
Sadly, we don't know what happened to him. We were in touch for a few years and we know that part of his family, from Aleppo, was able to get to Turkey. The last time we heard, he was in Brazil trying to figure out where to go and what to do. His is the story of displacement, the horrible plight of so many people from Syria. Abdul is smart and flexible, likable and persuasive; he knows how to do a lot of things and I have confidence wherever he has ended up, he'll be okay.
So far, the Noria have fared better than the Syrian people. Despite periodic reports that they've been burned to the ground, my last check with Mr. Google shows that they are still standing.
You can read about the Noria here, then you can roll on over to Sepia Saturday for more stories.