11.10.2012

Cappadocia: one of my favorite jewels of Anatolia



Because I'm a fan of precious stones, when I travel to places I think about them in terms of a stone: How difficult is the place to get to (dark blue sapphire)? How popular is it (gold)? Is it overrun with tourists (diamond)? How hidden is this jewel (malachite)? (Is this a jewel in the rough (moss agate)? etc...

So I just traveled to Cappadocia

Now, let me begin.... But first, that's right- the coffee. Get the coffee (I'm typing to myself here, okay?) First you guys need a context:

It's Saturday morning 7:30 am. I woke up @ 4:30 am call to prayer and, apparently, only lightly fell back to sleep afterwards. So here I am. I did have the good sense to throw on some sweats and go outside to get my laundry going (a side bene(fit) for getting up early on weekends is getting to a washing machine 1st at the apartments). And then of course good sense continues with the french press. Coffee aromatherapy appreciation runs strong on morning weekends. Mehmet Effendi Espresso Blend is the demi-god to pay homage to. The proper goddess also received much needed adoration time as well.

A new friend in Göreme gave me a present from Cappadocia during my stay. Just a little token of the evening and the glory of Cappadocia region. Upon returning back home, I promptly forgot about it for the past 2 weeks. Makes the discovery all that much more sweet though, as I just found the present this morning so made use of it. It has inspired me to write about... Cappadocia.

Tra la la...   (intermission as I prepare da kine cuppa joe)

Cappadocia. My first experience of the place was back in 2001. This was back during a most epic odyssey consisting of hoofing it around Europe, North Africa and finally to Turkey. By the time I arrived in Istanbul to visit Fezzy WHO was living there, WHO I went to University of Hawaii Hilo with, WHO was also an archaeology student, WHO still lives there... You get the picture- part of the inner circle of cosmic beings that rates high as a Homo sapien for me in this little microcosm of a world that I inhabit. Okay guys, keep following me...Don't stray off the path. I still remember the subject matter here...


But I digress... so I took a side trip to Kapadokya. I was ragged. Had been traveling all summer. Cappadocia was ragged- rough around the edges. Cappadocia, I first discovered here, was a jewel in thr rough- my favorite kind. The impurities of thıs jewel are ıts brilliance- like amber from the Balkans- serious natural beauty. Amber is like a snapshot of the ancient world- what got trapped on that tree at the time that the resin started hardening is a clue to our origins- BUT you have to understand this. You have to want to dig deep and delve into the mysteries of the Earth to know amber. When I look at a piece of amber, I see the galaxy... Deep thoughts, I know...  So I saw this snapshot in the Kapadokya landscape to make a long, esoteric story less long...

(quick amber fun facts reference:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amber)

My 2nd trip to Cappadocia was in 2007. I was on a sabbatical from the archeology world back home on Maui. I was studying yoga in Istanbul, and back at Fezzy's HQs. I met a great cast of characters there who have helped me immensely and are like family to me. Family that NEVER comes and visits me here in Gaziantep mind you... ahem... work on it folks...

So Hillybilly came to visit me and then Sher-Bear followed her. The merry pranksters set off for a Kapadokyan adventure- surely.  Twas memorable indeed. Nuff said.

Fast-forward to 2012 Kurban Bayram. The new trio of princesses; the Turkish Princess (TP), the Azeri Princess (AP) and the Hawaiian Princess (HP) set out on a whirlwind 1500 kilometer journey by... rental car! Now, the AP doesn't drive so TP did the majority. I was her wing-chick and covered her ass when she needed to catch some shut-eye. I'm an awesome 'wing-chick- by the way...

Now one of the main thrills of this trip was that both the AP and the TP had never been to Cappadocia before, so I functioned as a tour guide (how gratifying can that be when the stranger gets to show the locals around their own turf... heh heh).

As any proper princess would do, she sought out the local Knights of the area. One night in shiny armor I had met back in 2007. He was kind enough to rent me his car for 2 days so my travel mates and I could go check out the underground cities to the south, etc. I never did forget him. I even had some updates on him since HillyBilly ended up staying in the region for a couple years- because of a Knight, of course...

Goreme is a village (albeit over-run with tourists a lot of the year now), so I knew it would be easy to find this Knight. The 2 people that I asked were in fact his relatives so, search was over. We all met up and planned some events for the next few days.

The history of the name Cappadocia, from what I researched, goes back to Persian times. The area was called Katpatukya and means 'land of beautiful horses'. The history dates back much further, of course, back to before the Hittites, but more on that later.I suspect there is more to this story though. I'll report back later on this.

The different types of erosional weathering is what has formed the landscape- just like any landscape, but it is quite unusual here and I am strangely attracted to it. This is strange because I am a water girl. I can't really be away from the beach for too long. Being land-locked is sometimes difficult to deal with honestly...The place is rough and rugged with no pretenses- just how I like my men. On that note, I met a Knight there (born and raised in that ethereal landscape no less) that had those qualities... *alas* Not to get carried away here, but I just have to say that... oh, forget it...

The Cappadocian geological region is located on a high plateau and experiences extreme temperature differences. It has a lot of water sources in the area. When water freezes, it expands. When this happens underground, things move. Same with rocks, right? So because of all this super cool natural science, we have Cappadocia's perhaps lunar-like surface? Whatever you think it looks like, it is just cool. I wanted to get lost hiking in those valleys. I really missed my 4X4 truck while I was here. You could just drive off in a direction and get lost in it. I imagined myself driving (with a Knight of course) into the lunar landscape and just stopping off somewhere and setting up camp. You would need all the luxuries of course: fishing poles, BBQ, tent, my favorite Canadian Goose Down sleeping bag (affectionately better known as 'my husband'. The AZ termed this for me)... mountain bikes, beer, good friends to share in the experience, and most importantly- a sense of adventure

Back to our reality trip though, and not my 'fantasy trip', having a car is the only way to really check out the region. There is so much unusual beauty- just like a Moss Agate stone. Because it is formed of volcanic rocks, this makes sense to me. These geologic formations have this shaping due to a denser lava from a later eruption covering a previous 'tuft' (consolidated volcanic ash) layer. The heaviness of the top layer cut through the mountains, in places of weakness,  and sliced them literally vertically. So, weak covalent bonding (geologically speaking) created conical-shaped phallic mountains! It is confirmed yet again, SCIENCE ROCKS!

I've traveled around Turkey fairly extensively, and off the beaten path often. This place is just pleasant- even with the increased amounts of tourism that I have noticed over the past 11 years. You can still be in Göreme, and off walking on a trail and be totally alone. It still feels ancient in the evenings when it's dark and the landscape is illuminated with lights shining out from fairy chimneys (the volcanic tuft cones that resemble one of the finer aspects of Homo sapiens of the male species).

So the intrepid traveler princesses had fun and days/nights were occupied with love, lust for nature, and laughter. We happened to bring along our Ottoman Era costumes as we knew they'd come in handy...  

Each time I have visited the place, I know I'll return. It's just like that. There is too much about the area. I want more. I have unfinished business there.


 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia

I'm going to stop typing and just put the pictures in so you all can kinda just 'arm-chair' travel as I like to call it.
some of Göreme's finest...

finally some decent wine that rivals Bozcaada...

some clay pot action

yum

heading to the wine cave

Naz hanging out

we didn't want to get lost returning from the wine cave so I had this brilliant idea to have Naz point the direction home

at the tractor head left

with Naz inside the wine cave

leaving the wine cave & wondering where our sleeping cave is

once we found the right path, we took a detour to look at a cave for sale- at midnight. It was spooky...

standard operating procedure
there it is...

yea, we brought costumes with us...

enjoying a Cappadocian morning

voila!

Naz

moi

Selin

lounge lizards...

3 witches holding court in Cappadocia

Naz looking coquettish

room with a view





hanging out at the museum. I wasn't feeling the crowds

captured

hanging out

good times

scary monsters

awesome landscape

our host supplied us with wine at the caravansarai

before

after...

digging on the view
dinner at a village house with Yaşar and Mustafa

the afterparty...

brilliant morning after

sweet Göreme


Well it's a perfectly beautiful gray day. I say this optimistically as it will soon morph into a sea of gray in the next few months... The sky, in fact, reminds me of the Pacific Ocean in northern Cal in winter... If you want to go in it and enjoy, you have to put on a wetsuit...

I might have just stopped mid-sentence in some of this. I can't be held responsible for lost/distracted thoughts. This is simply how I roll during these posts. I genuinely don't believe I'm so scattered in my thoughts in person.

I'm not also spellchecking...