Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Caves and The Turtle

This morning i woke up just after 5am to the loudest call to prayer ever. I couldn't fall back asleep. Just as the sun came up i looked out my window and saw nine hot air balloons floating above the valley!  It was quite lovely. I will be on one of those balloons on Friday morning.
Today i was on a tour of the rock valley. It is a little group of people - about six.  I usually don't do tours, but as with Ephesus, it would be difficult for me to see all of the things any other way. Here, all of these locations are spread out in the countryside, so a tour was the best option.
We visited a number of valleys where the paths were lined by the sorts of towering rock formations that i described in yesterday's entry. We also visited the actual cave houses, cave churches, and cave monasteries. They are amazing! They were built/carved beginning in the 10th Century and were inhabited until 1952, when the Turkish government moved them into houses after earthquakes destabilized many of the rocks. The dwellings they built are mind boggling - there are houses with every sort of room conceivable, churches with columns and frescoes, elaborate staircases and winding tunnels that go deep inside the mountains. Some of the dwellings are part way up the side of cliffs; now there are stairs constructed, but back "in the day" the residents would have scaled the wall using handholds. It is truly unlike anything i have ever seen. We had lunch and visited more of the same - rocks and rock dwellings.
cave houses
I had two animal encounters today. At one point i got too close to a camel and when i turned my back on it, it tried to bite me. The other occurred when we were driving and there was a large-ish turtle crossing the busy street. I expressed concern for the turtle - not wanting to see it get squashed. Our driver stopped the van, ran into the street, picked up the turtle, brought it back to the vehicle and handed it to me. I held this turtle for about 20 minutes until we reached a good place to deposit it. The creature was quite adorable, but he did (understandably) get frustrated with being held for so long and began kicking his little legs. It was at this point that he urinated on me. I was able to clean up right away, but as i have only one pair of trousers for this trip (and they, like the rest of my clothes are beginning to smell), i was not delighted at having this occur. My displeasure was outweighed by knowing that we saved the turtle from a certain fate in the road. The last i saw of him, he was moving slowly but with great determination into a patch of yellow squash.

My favorite quote from today came when i was listening to a carpet seller explain how the colors in the carpets are made. He explained that they use only natural dyes, using onion skins for yellow, lice blood for red and tobacco for the browns. He said, "You can see that tobacco is not only good for the lungs, but it also make good color."
On that note, i think i shall go smoke.

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