Capadoccia Roundup

Everywhere we go Serkan seems to hook us up somehow. Everyone is so talkative, not to me so much, because I don't understand anything. Though, that is becoming less and less true. Every once in a while, I bust out with a moment of utter understanding. I'm just unable to respond in Turkish. It's nice, however, to have those moments of clarity, to feel like a little kid again, extremely proud of oneself for accomplishing a new feat.

Our first day in Cappadocia, we went out for a walk to photograph some of the manmade structures in the rock around Ürgüp. One place was so elaborate, it even had a built in dining area complete with a table and benches. All of these houses and rooms are vacant now, which leaves them open to mountains of litter, urinating men and nighttime beer guzzling, which evidently ends, ceremonially, by breaking the brown bottles.

In the evening we walked toward a UNESCO world heritage site to check it out and said hello to the night guard there. It was already dusk, and it didn't look like we'd be allowed to loiter, but Serkan asked if it would be alright if we went in. Not only were we able to pass. The night guard proceeded to give us a tour of everything, even the buildings that were closed up for restoration. He took us into the old church (eventually converted into a mosque), the hamam (bath house), stables, wine cellars, all over. Serkan did his best to translate all the details for me, but the night guide went into about a 30-minute story on the Greek dude/martyr who used to sleep in the stable to be closer to the animals. If it was good enough for the animals, it was good enough for him. I did not get the 30-minute version of that story.

The next day we took a bus to Uçisar, known as Pigeon Valley, because most of the rock formations in this area are replete with nesting nooks for the pigeons (aka doves, famous hippie symbols of peace and love). We can only take the bus so far and then have to walk a few kilometers into town. We'd walked less than five minutes before an old man in an old blue pick-up picked us up. We weren't even hitchhiking. He just asked if we wanted a ride. We hopped in, and he told us how he is one of the area's most prominent carpenters, an expert in stone masonry. Then he pointed out the houses, which he had built, many of them more than a decade older than me.

The following day, the same thing happened on our way back from visiting the gigantic, multi-level underground city in Kaymakli. As we walked toward the main road to wait for the bus, a man in a fancy van asked us if we were going to Nevşehir--which we were to catch the next bus back to our temporary home in Ürgüp. He took us to the bus stop in Nevşehir, and before he dropped us off, he gifted us a handful of Napolean cherries and the most delicious apricot I have ever tasted.

We also visited the Göreme Open Air Museum, where we must have ducked into about 20 cave churches with Byzantine frescoes. Lovely, cool respites from the heat outside. On the way down the hill, back into the town of Göreme, we passed by a sign that said Fairy Chimney Valley or something like that. It was hot out and neither one of us was really feeling the whole walk-in-the-heat thing, but we figured we should check it out, just for a few minutes. As in life, one path led to another, until we were mini-trekking through the valley on the way to a different town altogether. A couple hours later, on our approach to the tiny village of Çavuşin, we were actually outrunning dark clouds, violent dusty winds and miniature twisters. The next bus wouldn't arrive for another hour, but we were able to hire a driver for only 15 lira back to Ürgüp. The downpour started once we jumped in the car. Whew.

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