On the dark empty highway an armed Turkish military patrol pulled us off to the side of the road. We were never stopped on our way into Turkish Kurdistan. On the way out, though, the army wanted to know who everyone was and what they were doing.
I pulled the car over. Soldiers bearing rifles completely surrounded us. I rolled down the driver’s side window and reached for my passport. A uniformed officer barked something at me in Turkish. I didn’t understand any of it.
“Hello!” I said. “Do you speak English?”
He jerked his head backward, clearly startled, squinted his eyes, and said something else to me in Turkish.
All the soldiers wore deadly serious facial expressions and held their rifles ramrod straight across their chests. We could have been terrorists or gun-runners for the PKK, and they were not messing around.