Saturday, 13 October 2012

DAY 10
Filling up with cheaper diesel smuggled over the border from Iran a mile or two down the road. Dogubayazit is a border town so smuggling is big business.

Most of the day was spent travelling.  We had quite a long, hot drive to Agri Airport before the two-hour flight to Istanbul.
Another plush, comfortable, Istanbul hotel. We sat on the roof which sported a swimming pool and impressive views over the city.

As darkness began to descend we managed to get in touch with the assistant of an individual I wanted to speak to. A certain 'parasute'. This man is the main Dogubayazit representative for an organisation called N.A.M.I. NAMI stands for Noah's Ark Ministries International. He is the man with the large mustache in the attached video clip. NAMI are based in Hong Kong.
The name sounds innocent enough, but I have received detailed description on-camera that these people have spent large amounts of money constructing a false ark in an ice cave high on Ararat. I've been told that 'everyone' in the area knows about it. That the wood was trucked from an old sailing ship at the Black Sea to Ararat and locals were paid to transport it up the mountain to an ice cave where the hoax was constructed. The man whom they employed to show them likely caves on the mountain told me this and even said he believes he knows the very cave which they used.
Here are a couple of reports about it:

Initially, Parasute said that he couldn't come as he was busy and sent his assistant instead, so I interviewed the assistant.  He had nothing of any interest to say. I had the feeling that the assistant was only there checking us out for his boss.
Later, we received a message from Parasute that he was coming after all. When he turned up, he flatly refused to be filmed and kept the back of his head resolutely turned in the direction of the camera (which wasn't rolling).
I asked him what he knew about NAMI and also about the allegations that he knowingly built a false ark in the mountain. He told me that 'He is NAMI' and that the allegations are just lies. He maintained that he really has found the real ark, that it will be world famous and they would build a visitor centre and so on.
I don't believe a word he said.
I remember being given a description of Parasute's character early on and the word from the description which stays in my memory is 'crook'. To me, hearing him described as a 'scientist' is quite amusing.
There was a real publicity drive surrounding this 'ark find' early on but ever since it was exposed as a hoax on American TV etc. everything has gone quiet.  It appears they have dropped it like a hot brick.  I would question why Parasute who made his living as a mountain guide in Dogubayazit and Ararat now lives in Istanbul.
None of this information was known when Donald went to Turkey for the last time. All he or I knew about it then was the video on YouTube which it appears was taken down by NAMI themselves, but of course, is still available from others after being copied.
When Donald left for Ararat the last time, his words to me were: 'I've got to find out if this Chinese find is genuine or not.'

Monday, 8 October 2012


On day four I was in a Dogubayazit restaurant with some guides and other locals.  I showed a video clip on my camera to the man beside me who had known Donald.  The clip contained footage of my mother who looked at the camera wearing a sad expression.  I said, 'This is my mother, she's sad because of Donald.'  When he heard what I said he immediately rose to his feet, walked over to some other local men and began to talk with them.
I sat there thinking, 'Something's going on here.'  Shortly afterwards, he returned to his seat beside me and said, 'I think you will find your brother.'  I wondered exactly what he might mean.  A little later I was brought to a quiet place out of town and introduced to a man who two months earlier had found an old campsite high on the mountain.  He handed me a bag containing a few items.  The first item I was shown was a small light-brown coloured pouch. Initially, when I looked at it I thought, 'oh no, not another red herring,'  because I simply did not recognise it.  But when I opened it, I found it contained a little pocket telescope.  At first it meant nothing, but as time passed, the more I looked at it the more it began to click somehow.  All I could say at that point was, 'You know, I think there might be something about this telescope, but I'm not sure.'  The other objects, the little bits of credit card with sewing thread wound round them, compass, someone's personal card with sewing needles pushed through it, all kept in a little dust bag from a DeWalt power tool were all clicking.  I knew that the dust bag was typical of the kind of thing Donald would use as was the personal card needle-holder. The Chunks hacked out of the sides of the plastic compass body were also typical.  But I have a natural defence against raising my hopes and will accept nothing until I'm sure.  Because of this these things though clearly clicking with me weren't swinging me.  Then I read the personal card: 'Colin Macdonald, Newmarket, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.'
'Now hang on a minute, this is proof,' I said.
It was strange.  Even though the personal card had established it and the other things were ringing bells more and more all the time, belief was strangely gradual.
There is something I would now like to point out.
Two years passed before I arrived in Dogubayazit in my attempts to find out what happened to Donald.  Ideally you would not normally like to leave it so long.  The things that got in the way were marriage, job and family commitments.
When I was first contacted many months ago about the possibility of going to East Turkey and making a documentary, I made it a matter of prayer, as I was concerned that it would be God's will.
The most important discovery of this trip has been the positive identification of Donald's last camp site.
If I hadn't been there in person this would not have happened.
The campsite was discovered just two months before my appearance.
Had I come earlier the campsite would not yet have been found.
God's time is the right time.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Immediately after breakfast I was handed a mobile phone. 'Hello,' I said.
'Hello, I'm Joannah. [Joannah Lumley] Can you tell me your name please?'
'Derick Mackenzie.'
'Oh, hello Derick, delighted to speak to you.  I'm here making a documentary about the ark.  I've been hearing all about the terribly tragic story of your brother and it would be wonderful if you could speak to us as part of our film.'
I had to say no as I have an agreement with the the documentary makers I am working with.  She was very understanding.
Ah well, never mind.  I spoke to her and her crew in the evening and she was very nice.  She told me that she had stayed in Stornoway about twenty years ago in a B&B owned by a Mrs Mackenzie.
The kids in the above picture live in the village where Donald stayed most of the time.
More revelations tonight.  I spoke to a very experienced mountaineer and guide who knew Donald very well.  He told me that Donald knew what he was doing and had the best of equipment.
He went into great detail about how a bunch of conmen called N.A.M.I. (Noah's Ark Ministries International) brought wood by truck from an old sailing ship on the black sea and paid locals to take the wood up the mountain on horseback and constructed a fake ark in an ice cave high on the slopes.  He is the man who showed them the cave in the first place.  He specifically named the people involved and said all of this on camera.  A very honest man I believe.
I had heard much of this before but this is the first time I have heard personal testimony of it from a man prepared to make himself public.  Remembering that it was to check out whether this reported discovery was genuine or not was why Donald came here the last time.
We now seek to track down one of the key men involved in this fraud.
The thing that has made the difference here is that people care.  They have a conscience.

Monday, 1 October 2012


I went to have a look at Donald's van today.  The place in the above pictures is where it's parked.  It's a privately run place where the police deposit any vehicles they hold.  It annoyed me when the interpreter told me that the guy who brought us to the van had said that I wasn't allowed to open the door. So I opened the door, climbed in and had a good rummage.  He didn't try to stop me.
I thought it was strange that the jacket Donald would normally wear on the mountain was still in the van.  But perhaps there's an innocent reason.
Apart from the jacket nothing else seemed unusual.
The way the place works is, when you pick up the vehicle you have to pay rent to the guy who owns the yard.  After two years it's going to be a lot.  And without a doubt when they see that I'm a Westerner it's going to be a whole lot more.  The law here must be pretty strange if it allows these people to keep hold of personal property which does not belong to them in the name of business.
Seeing the van and going through Donald's stuff was a really heavy experience.
I visited the office of the public prosecutor today and they had a fat file on Donald's case containing details of what they had done to locate Donald.  They wouldn't hand it over or let me look at it because they couldn't be sure that I was Donald's brother - my passport and driving licence wasn't good enough.  They told me that I am going to have to go through the British consulate.  They also told me that because Donald had climbed the mountain without a pass that he had illegally climbed it, therefore, they hadn't really bothered looking for him.  They also said that because he didn't have the pass that there was no record of him having climbed it and therefore as far as they were concerned he didn't exist.
I am finding here that when I am told something I tend to quickly hear the contrary.  A couple of men told me today very emphatically they believed that Donald was more than likely murdered by people who were 'mad' because he was giving out Bibles.  Then shortly afterwards another man told me not to take it seriously.
I know one thing: I don't yet know what happened to Donald.
As the Prosecutor said today: 'The case of Donald Mackenzie is still open.'
Just to add: a strange thing happened in the hotel tonight. Joannah Lumley walked through lobby and up the stairs.

Sunday, 30 September 2012


The Lord's day.  A day of spiritual and physical rest.
Exodus 20: 8.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

I walked to the base camp today with guides.  It was a different kind of day as there was no investigating, just walking in the hot sun.  The Kurdish like their picnics (spelt piknik here), so we had one at the base camp, a barbecue. One advantage of using a horse.
Zaffa pointed out to me on the mountain the height at which Donald disappeared.  It was strange to be so close and to think that his remains might be up there.
I have made important discoveries on this trip which I am advised would be best kept quiet at the moment.
Suffice it to say, this trip has not been wasted time.
My Hotel: Hotel Ararat.

Friday, 28 September 2012

I found the elusive Musa today.  I say 'elusive' because I had always been told that he was living at the the other end of Turkey.  I really didn't expect to see him.  I went to his village which is pictured above in the distance.  Mount Ararat is in cloud to the right.  I met his father.  Musa was Donald's best friend over here for  years.  He used to stay in his father's house with the family, I was in the room that Donald used to sleep in today.
It had been reported to me long ago that 'Musa was a bad man' and so on.  Well, I asked him all the questions I could think of and at the end of the day what can you do?  I can't just assume someone is lying - how truthful are the ones that criticised him?  He did have fond memories of Donald and even shed tears.  I am not saying that proves anything but I must give people the benefit of the doubt.
My guide and interpreter Zaffa has told me that the town has 'come alive' because I am here, and people everywhere are talking about it - word has got around.  He said, 'The red lights are flashing in the town.'  That is plainly the reason such decisive things happened yesterday and today.
Zaffa took me to the Mosque today (Friday prayers).  I had to get out after a bit.  It depressed me (enough said for the moment).