Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cappadocia Captures My Heart

This will take, I think at least two, maybe three (maybe even four) posts.  Why?  Because this place defies words, it is a visual feast and a spiritual (for me) journey, and there is so much to show and tell.  Cappadocian settlements date from the neolithic age, and the land has been occupied at various times by Assyrians, Hittites, Tabals, Persians, Romans, and lastly, Turks.  There is deep history here.  It is a place where Christians took refuge in order to avoid annihilation from polytheistic Rome in elaborate housing carved into the caves that were formed via volcanic activity and torrents of water, wind and temperatures.  There are monasteries and churches and cave dwellings and carpets and a people that comprise the Anatolian heritage.  There is much to see and to learn.

I am staying in the beautiful little village of Goreme, population 2,000.
More specifically... I am staying at the pleasant and comfortable Canyon View Inn.  I highly recommend it for the rooms, the view, and the lovely hospitality.

There are lots of places to stay in Goreme... but I am happy I made this my choice.  If you visit, please tell them I said hello.

The first evening we simply spent exploring the town, and shopping in the numerous tourist spots.  At some of the finer carpet shops to be found here, I was sorely tempted, and quite intrigued.  One owner took his time to offer us a cup of apple tea and to educate us on the intricacies of Turkish carpets.  It was not so much a sales pitch, as an effort to connect.  We had wandered through the labyrinthine passages of his shop before being introduced.  After hearing him talk with so much passion about his carpets, I very much wanted to purchase one... but the time is not yet right.  I do wish this man healing and good health.   He seemed an honest human being just trying to make his way through this journey like the rest of us, only with better rugs under his feet.  Afterwards I made may way back up to the Canyon View and fell into pleasant slumber.

The next day we were anxious to begin exploring the formations and caves and churches that make this region such a destination.  We hadn't rented a car, and had no idea how to go about choosing a tour guide.
After watching balloons rise at breakfast, I spoke briefly with the Seyit, my hospitable host at the Canyon View about  what to see and how.  This kind man offered to drive us to various sites and to be our personal guide for the day... WOW.  My friend was shocked to see me pull up at our meeting spot in a car with our own personal guide at the helm.  We were off to explore the back roads of Cappadocia.

Seyit asked if we would like to see the sights in Cappadocia, his home, which were off the beaten path, and which would include an ancient church.  Of course!  This is a view from the bottom of the climb up to the church.  Mind you, we had to make our way here in 4 X 4 over fairly rough terrain.  This spot  is NOT on the tours. 

We hiked and climbed up to a narrow entrance. These were/are a hardy people.  They also were loving and generous if current descendants are any reflection of character.  Imagine what it took to make your home in these rocks... to worship in a place so far removed from the familiar and safe known. 

I was stunned to find, in this remote location in an unmarked cave, carvings and iconography that bore witness to the upholding of a faith that regardless of detractors, stands still a testament to love and community in a time of hardship.

 This spot here, is in my opinion, close to what paradise might look like.  Consider it is mid fall and the fields seen here are grapes.  This valley reminded me of a dream.  A place of plenty and a land truly flowing with milk and honey.  It's beauty is beyond description and the picture does not do it justice.  Just come see for yourself.  But please, do NOT bring western manners or western ways.  Do not pave or make rules or worry about entrance fees or gates.  Do not rule over the land, but treat it as a friend and a companion that must sustain you for eons well into eternity.  Be gentle and kind and
r e l a x . 
All things come to pass for the good in due time.

This is Seyit.  He is a balloon pilot, hotelier, host, tour guide, mechanic and friend.  He took time off from his day to take two strangers around to introduce them to his Turkey.  And a marvelous land it is.  Again... remember this is harvest time.  Things are brown and dry and it is the end of tourist season, and yet... my favorite time of year with pumpkins and drying sunflowers and the bright colors of fall.  It is good for me that Turkey is so sweet this time of year as well.  This was a bright warm day and there were so many things to see... lava formations long ago turned into spires of incredible and humorous formations.  Caves and dry river beds and vistas of magnificent proportion.  I took so many pictures that I would love to share, but there is neither the time nor the patience for you or I to have a slide show.  I have however, put some of the more interesting shots into this blog.

This is painted icon of an angel on the ceiling of the church mentioned above.

One of many interesting and visually alluring villages we saw.

Yes... it does say Naturel (sic) Organik VIAGRA

(I really don't think many Turks need this product)

A bright day for a quick scramble up the side of a formation.  We saw so many beautiful sights.  At every turn, truly I was amazed and awed.  This area is special to say the least.  At this point we were only halfway through our day believe it or not!

Seyit asked if we were interested in pottery.  Now that seems like a fairly benign question that might lead to a trip to a little road side stand selling cheap Turkish pots (much like the ones we had seen earlier in town).  However,  we were soon to be treated to a trip to Avanos and a tour for two into the inner workings of a master potter and his legacy. 

Just to tease you for the next blog.....

I will fill in the blanks with a story about a very eccentric artist and his journey into perfection and renown.  I am smitten with Turkey,



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