July 3

My last night in Turkey!

After wrapping things up at the residency, Mehmet and I went to his friends cave house to have farewell raki and snacks to watch the sunset. I ended up getting some great photos of the inside and outside of the cave house, so it was a perfect encap to the trip, a last little addition to the project. Mehmet told me some great stories that he was told by his family of spirits that inhabit these lands.. ghost stories to accompany a rather spectacular sunset.

It was sad to see my trip come to a close.. I will definitely be back Cappadoccia, but good bye for now. Onwards to Venice to see the Biennale. I will be writing about it my general art blog – http://ailischmeltz.blogspot.com/

The next phase in The Lives of Cappadoccia Project will be developed over the next few months. Upon return to Los Angeles, I will compile this immense amount of information that I have gathered, the photographs, writings and drawings into a book and will be using the wood, carpet scraps and tassles to make sculptural frame/ assemblage forms. With the gathering of information stage complete, now my challenge will be to interpret, clarify and sift through all of it to figure out its final incarnate form. I will keep you all informed of my progress here on this blog so stay tuned!!

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July 1

I just got back from spending two days at the Meditteranean coast wandering around Kizkalesi… how beautiful. The water was oh so very blue and warm, but man, was it hot. We drove down there through large granite mountains with tall pine trees and stopped first at the Heaven and Hell caves. The Hell cave was fenced off so you end up just looking down at a large, well.. cave while standing on a cement platform that hangs over the edge. The Heaven cave was down 400 some odd stairs, about 100 of which were muddy and slippery, people were falling all over the place. Upon entering the end of the stairs, you are in an immense, dark cave with some stalactites hanging form the celing, but that is about it. I’m not sure what I expected, but I was hoping for some sort of reward for my journey.. a cave drawing, something carved out of the walls, anything.. this was supposed to be heaven after all? So, in a bit of disappointment, I headed back up the stairs for the long haul up to the top.. it was really hot and quite the workout.

Which led us to make the executive decision to find us a shandy (the beer and sprite combo that I spoke of earlier, although this time it ended up as beer mixed with Fanta orange soda- a ‘Fandy’ we coined it) and head to the beach! We found a great hotel a little west of Kizkalesi, called the Mediterranean Resort and hit the beach. The water was the perfect temperature and the people watching was interesting. I was especially impressed by the pastry vendors who walked the beach with these huge trays on their heads, piled high. There were also many women on the beach that were wearing what I’ve heard called a burkini, which is swimwear (?) that looks like a rain jacket and pants, worn by religious muslim women to cover themselves. The burkini covers everything, and I mean everything, except for the womans face and feet. I marveled how these women could sit in the blazing sun with their kids in such attire without passing out from heat exhaustion. I was so hot, comparatively, in the shade with my swim suit on. I couldn’t help myself, I had to take some photos of them.. I will post one below. I ordered the essential beach margarita and asked for an umbrella to be put inside, just to be festive and officially be on vacation. What we actually received was more like a vodka/cranberry with straws inside.. oh well, the thought was there.

After a long hard day of sunning and swimming we went to eat some fish in a most tranquil bay, the sunset was incredible and fish caught that morning was hard to beat.. yum! So delicious!

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June 28

Went for a balloon ride today! It was so beautiful! Besides getting up at 3:30 am, the rest of the experience was amazing.. nice breakfast before the flight, amazing views, great crew and captain.. even post flight champagne and cake! I was surprised at how many balloons were out today, I’d guestimate around 30, which I’m told is not very many. We were able to drop down into White Valley to see the rock formations from the top while the the sun came up over the landscape. The view from the sky really shows how the land formed and continues to erode.. breathtaking.



After the flight, Christine, Dorian and I went to Goreme to poke around. I got a few more pics of the rug shop and acquired some rug scraps to bring home with me for some sculptural ideas I want to work on. Ran into Mehmet in Goreme, had some Turkish coffee, and he offered to give a ride back to the village to avoid the bus transfers and long walk. When I got back to the village, I stopped into Mehmet Ali’s shop to try to figure out how to bring some carved wooden pieces (architectural trim and small pieces) home with me.. I’m trying to avoid shipping stuff, so I may buy another suitcase, since I only had a backpack coming here, to bring with me full of materials on the plane. Now, after a long nap and yummy dinner, I’m settled in for the evening to draw and work.

 

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June 26

Today Mehmet taught Marie-Ellen and I how to make Turkish coffee.. and man, it is delicious. After our little coffee time we read fortunes in the coffee grounds, which entails a very scientific method of swirling the last of your coffee around while covering the cup with a saucer, then flipping the cup upside down onto the saucer, waiting for it to cool, then making images of the grinds on the inside wall of your cup. Here is what I came up with-

To me it looks like a squirrel or rat and a bird in profile looking at each other, not sure what to make of that. Mehmet is sure that it means that there is or will be a quarrel about something that stands in between me and another…huh. I’ll be careful to not quarrel or let things get in between my relationships, especially with birds, rats or squirrels, ha.

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June 25

Yesterday Paul took all of us on a hike to explore a hidden church and valley full of pigeon houses near our village. The hidden cave church that we visited had some nice earth toned frescoes, many of women which led Paul and others to think that this was perhaps a womens church. Next to the church was another rock formation with a series of rooms carved out of it, perhaps a monastery or nunnery.

The valley we walked through was chock full of pigeon houses, more than I have seen in one area in the region. As I mentioned before, the farmers used the pigeon droppings as fertilizer for their fields, so they constructed these complicated houses with tunnels within the rock for collection. Some of the houses will have aluminum flashing on the outside to prevent the animals from getting to the birds. It is also common for the pigeon houses to have drawings or patterns painted on the outside.. the meaning of the gliphs seem unclear, I have been looking it up but have not yet found too much writing about the drawings.

This morning we work up early and headed to Urgup to visit the hamam, the ‘Turkish bath’, which was completely worth the trip. Hamams have been popular in Turkey for thousands of years, many of them surviving from Hellenic and Roman times, apparently though, it was the Ottomans that perfected the hamam somewhere around the 16th century.

Upon arrival at the hamam you are given a pair of water shoes and a cotton cloth, similar to that of a table cloth or drapery. You are then lead into a large warm room with a center area with a high domed ceiling with small circular windows that let in light. There are marble water basins along the perimeter of the room with faucets and a heated marble flatform in the middle. I didn’t take any pictures while inside but I found a few images online that have similar features-


So, you first wash yourself off in the water basin and then go inside the sauna (a small, wooden enclosed room with one long bench)  for 10 minutes or so. Following the steam, you lay on the hot marble platform in the middle of the larger space. Then one by one, we were led by a man with a towel around his waist into another smaller room and onto a message looking table, where a full body scrub and massage ensued. Instead of using oil for the message they use this very foamy soap, similar to bubble bath. It felt great and was very relaxing.. and at the reasonable price of 25 Lira (about $18 USD), I may just have to go back again before I leave.

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June 24

Another handful of days..

Tuesday (?), Mary- Ellen and I hiked Love Valley.. we took a bus to Uchisar and, after a little bit of confusion, finally found the trail head. The trail starts up high on the edge of the canyon, then drops down to the ravine and follows the stream through some amazing rock formations with eroded strata. At the end of the trail, the grand finale, are these series of phallic rock towers that are quite beautiful and strange.

We caught a bus to Goreme to have a delicious lunch and do a little retail therapy at the tourist shops. I fell in love with this large carpet shop that was maze like and so very visually overwhelming.. patterns and colors everywhere in room after room. Next week I will make sure to go back there to take more photographs.. some of the interior rooms (which I didn’t take photos of) are covered in layers of carpets on the walls, floor and ceiling. I ended up buying another gods eye, this one very different than the others.. a vertical piece made out of wrapped silk with tassles at the end, this one supposedly a piece from a womans dowry… I love it.

On Wednesday Paul took me to photograph a few places here in the village of Ibrahimpasa that utilize caves in different ways. First we went to the neighbors house, who is in the middle of renovating a cave house. He is a Canadian who married a Turkish woman and is quite a skilled wood worker. Its interesting to see how well modern, clean elements (such as the glass bathroom doors and glass panoramic wall/window) mix with the carved cave walls, I like the contrast.

We then went to the new boutique hotel down the road, Babayan Evi, as it is called, which is actually very nice and well done. It seems to be the first of its kind here in the village, although Paul seems to think that it is only a matter of time until this village will go through a major shift into a more tourist based climate.

Down the road a bit we visited another house that is being renovated, this house rather large and complex. This house includes a rather strange feature.. behind a locked gate and door there is a spiral staircase, cut out of the stone, that descends deep into the earth.. something around 80 stairs! The foreman of the construction site graciously took us down the narrow stairs where it is easy to loose your footing due to the loose rock, so you descend slowly while holding onto the walls (which also crumble under your touch) for support. It is a very strange experience to descend down, down, down into the earth through this  stairwell.. and at the end.. nothing! The stairs just stop and there is a little area around 3 feet square. Paul thinks that this was once a private well that was filled with water. I was happy to turn around and head back up the stairs (it is true that it is much easier going up) to reach fresh air and sunlight.

After a little lunch and rest, Paul took me to meet Mehmet Ali.. who owns an antique shop down the street, to see another use of some of the caves in the village. The back rooms of his shop are caves, that were once used as food storage and a grape press. Those of you that know me, know that I am a devout lover of antique shops, junk stores, thrift shops, architectural salvage, garage sales and junk piles. Not only are these places where I get most of my art materials from, they are also a great reflection on how objects are used in a culture, and the many faceted history that lay behind such objects. Mehmet Alis shop is an interesting mix of small objects such as doornobs and architectural details, as well as large carved wooden doors and old farm equipment. Man, if this shop were in Los Angeles.. I would love to have some of the carved wooden architectural parts to make sculpture out of.  There were also some paintings hung high up on the stairs that Mehmet Ali had painted that I enjoyed.. two that were of replicas of doctors office illustrations showing skin diseases and one of a pattern that he reproduced from a wall of a cave ( i think?) in the village. There was one room in particular that struck me visually that houses many intricately carved and decorated wooden chests. Apparently, these chests housed the collection of fine linens and handicrafts that women would make or be given, that served as her dowry chest. I bet those chests housed some amazing objects that at one point were pretty important to someone.. to see all of these chests piled up in a cave room unused was kind of sad in a way, or more nostalgically poetic really. I took a few panoramic photos of this room and of his shop that I am really excited about-

Yesterday, the whole gaggle of us artists from the Cultural House, Mary-Ellen, Dorian, Kristina (these two are new arrivals) and I went out for the day with Mehmet. First, we headed to Avanos to see the Hair Museum in a cave, apparently in the Guiness Book of World Records, which was started in 1979 by potter, Galip Korukcu, with over 16,000 hair examples given by women from around the world. And, of course (!), I donated a little bit of my locks to be included in the collection. The caves are huge, so much hair.. its pretty impressive and creepy at the same time… especially the hair hanging from the ceiling.

From the Hair Museum we went to visit the land art of Andrew Rogers, on a mountianside near Avanos. There are two types of works on the site.. the first is a series of vertical stone pillars, that are on top of the mountain and visible around the region. On the pillars are etched words like Kindness and Beauty in both English, Rogers native tongue I assume since he is Australian, and Turkish. The second type of work are these large images made out of short stone walls that, when seen from a distance, form images of a horse, a grinding stone and a goddess form, among others. These pieces I feel are best photographed from the air to really see them well so the last two photos here I stole off of the internet.. hopefully it will better show the scale.

 

 

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June 18

Today was another full day of walking and exploring. In the morning Marie-Ellen and I took the bus to the weekly Urgup open air market, a large bustling labrinth of stands selling everything from shoes, to fresh vegetables to cheese. We stocked up on groceries for the week and headed back to Ibrahimpasa, laden with many bags of goodies.

After lunch and an afternoon siesta, we walked to the next village over, Ortihisar, about an hours walk down a dirt road headed East. The name, Ortihisar, means ‘middle castle’ and geographically is pretty central in the Cappadocia region. It is characterized by the rock tower castle in the center of the village. On top of this mesa formation is the Ortahisar castle, which unfortunately is closed to the public at the moment.

We headed to the Cappadocia Cultural Museum on the main square, which you enter strangely through a rather upscale restaurant. The museum itself is a series of about 10 dioramas depicting life sized, stiff looking figures illustrating aspects of village life in the region including rug making and the marriage customs.

After the museum we went to hunt down a man named ‘Crazy Ali’, who Paul told us is an interesting character that owns an antique shop in the village. ‘Crazy Ali’ is a poet and lets say visionary, who invited us in for Turkish coffee and recited one of his poems for us in a rather animated fashion. When asked how he acquired the name, he told us a stories of his frequent ‘moon visits’ in a chariot… as to whether these ‘trips’ were meant to be figurative or literal, it was hard to tell. After a look around at the beautiful objects in his shop, he drew us a map of how to get to the Hallacdere monastic complex, a place that I had heard about and was hoping to find, that houses a mysterious figure that appears to be emerging from the walls. As a parting gift, he gave me a postcard on which was written, ‘Dear Friend, Even short time makes good friendship! With my best wishes forever!!’

We walked for quite a while beyond the edge of town and through a large graveyard on a dirt path until we saw what looked to be a mountain/rock formation with vans out front that we guessed were tour buses. When we reached the monastery we realized that the vans were catering vans alongside large white tents that were erected outside, housing tables set with wine glasses and tableware… a strange sight, given the remote setting. The workers explained that there was a ‘Catholic picnic’ being set up but motioned us to go inside and look around. Inside there was a series of rooms and a church with beautiful arches and a vaulted ceiling. After poking around for a while, alas, I found the man in the wall.

The dark clouds were again looming, signaling rain, so we decided to walk back to town to catch a taxi back to Ibrahimpasa. We managed to dodge the rain today, which we were thankful for, and headed off to our respective caves for dinner and relaxation.

 

 

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June 17

Haven’t posted in a few days so I have a bit of catch up to do here…

Wednesday I took a series of buses to go to the little riverside town of Avanos, a village known for its pottery that is created from deep red and white colored clay gathered nearby. The town itself is not very distinctive, it looks similar to many of the towns of the area, except that it is located along the banks of the KizilirmakRiver. I spent the afternoon there browsing the potteries among crowds of people on various bus tours. The merchants hawk at you while leading you into endless cave rooms stacked full of various clay objects, some rather beautiful, being painstakingly decorated with detailed patterns. I am not a shopper, but I like to look around and ask questions. The merchants soon realize that I am not a serious buyer and, thankfully, shift their attention to other shoppers. In general, I do not like to be pressured or stood over while I am browsing, it makes me feel hurried and nervous until I flee, moving onto the next store. Most of the merchants here ask a scripted set of questions..’Where are you from? Are you married? Are you traveling alone..?, then shoving an item at me saying, ‘I make you good price..” The first day or two  I would tell the truth, but as time has gone by I have started to embellish my story, changing my nationality, history and marital status while speaking in broken English to complete my disguise… ‘I Sweden, yah.. husband with 6 kids next shop there, pretty tour bus, yah..’ etc.. Curiously, I have not encountered one female shopkeeper.. and it somehow bugs me that these men feel entitled to fire off these personal, aggressive questions towards me, as if they think that this behavior will convince me into buying something. Of course, this is not the first time while traveling that I have came across this sort of hawking, but for some reason it surprises me here in this traditional, religious climate. I realize that these men are just trying to make a living, and seeing me enter with my khaki pants, backpack and tennis shoes makes them see dollar (or lira) signs as it were, it still rubs me the wrong way. I, admittedly stereotyping here, imagine their scarved headed, young wives at home keeping house and children clean and fed while these men approach female tourists in a disrespectful manner. After a short coffee stop at the cafe on the village square, I retraced my steps via series of buses home, leaving empty handed.. and as I am realizing now, without taking any pictures of the day.

On Thursday Mary-Ellen (the new artist in residence here) and I again, boarded the series of buses to visit the Zelve Open Air Museum and Imagination Valley, and having an hour or so in between buses, we enjoyed lattes (a rare, expensive treat!) in Urgup. Zelve is said to be is among the earliest-settled and last-abandoned monastic valleys in the region. The cave dwellings were used by local villagers up until 1952, when the structures were determined to be unsafe and the villagers were moved en masse over to nearby Aktepe, or New Zelve. We walked around the pathways and stairs to visit all of the little dwellings and rooms in the blaring sun… it was amazing.

Next we walked down the road for a bit to visit Imagination Valley or Dervent Valley, named such because of the particular shaped fairy chimney tops, which are said to look like different animals and people, one even like the Virgin Mary.. use you imagination. The last picture below, the formation with the plaque and flag out front, is apparently a police station.

Alain De Botton, in his book, The Art of Travel, spoke of a phenomena called ‘spots of time’ that my mind keeps chewing on today. In Bottons writing he is describing the 18th century poet, William Whitworth, a naturalist and a man who continued to follow his curiosity.  Whitworth, argued that he had experienced short glimpses, or moments of such visual serenity, in particular of his walks in the Alps, that would stay with him for the duration of his life and, every time these moments enter his consciousness, offer a relief from present difficulties. This concept is very similar to ones ‘happy place’ or serene visual used in meditation or in flash back movie sequences. The idea that a few moments overlooking a canyon or a visual snap shot of a certain sway of a tree can number as one of the most significant in ones lifetime really affects me. I think of the ‘spots of time’ that I have collected in my memory and call upon.. sometimes these moments are connected to an emotional situation of a person that I was with or a time in my life, both joyful and painful.. sometimes its unclear to me whether I actually experienced these times or if I remember it from a dream. In regards to travel, I wonder if one of the reasons that I have such ‘itchy feet’ could be to refill this bank of images, these brief, critical moments of simple clarity or beauty… I prefer to think of it this way instead of dismissing the call as ‘running away from’… both, I’m sure a form of healthy, if not fleeting, escapism. I’m curious about this idea..perhaps I sense that some spots of time in my mind have become painful or used up, over used.. so I feel a need to update them with new images of who I have become or strive to be. Similarly, my boyfriend, Greg, uses a phrase, ‘taking the poison off’ when revisiting a place that holds bad memories in order to make good memories in their place, neutralizing them as you would an upset stomach with warm milk. In any case, I am sure that many of my experiences here in Cappadocia will stay with me for a long time to come and influence my visual language in unforeseeable ways. The surreal landscape here is so unique and unlike anything that I have experienced, the physicality difficult to describe in words or photographs. Much of the ‘spots of time’ will be lost and pushed back into the depth of memory, while the highlights, I imagine, will float to the top of consciousness at random moments to be reframed and inserted into future overlapping collages.

I find that I am running out of new places to visit in the region.. I have been here now for over two weeks and, having taken a majority of those days for full days of exploring, am starting to sense that I am reaching a state of being visually ‘full’. I have gathered much material and have accomplished more in these two weeks than I anticipated in completing in four. I have photographed 6 houses, 1 caravanerai and 1 modern cave hotel, all thanks to Mehmet serving as liason and interpreter.. I have not been able to gain access to any of the villagers here in Ibrahimpasa as anticipated.. they are very devout muslims and wary of foreigners. I have plenty of material to work with and am very happy with what I have gathered. Now, it will just take many hours of working with the photos, drawings and writings to bring it all together into the final book format. I feel like I may be better able to see it all once I get home and have a little bit of distance and perspective. For the next week I plan to visit the remaining few areas that I have yet to explore, Ortahisar and Love Valley, and try to finish up what I can.

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June 14

Today was a rainy – stay at home – read and draw – kinda day. One of the great things about traveling is reading… I find that I get so much more reading done in airports, airplanes, cars, trains, buses and while away from home in general. I’m also a huge fan of listening to audio books while in the studio. Accordingly, I realized today that I have clocked many hours on this trip reading and listening to books. I started off devouring Art Without Compromise by Wendy Richmond on the planes to London.. a perfect way to start off the trip and this project by reminding me to look at my process and art making practice through different lenses. When I arrived in London I bought The Art of Travel by Alain De Botton, an interesting investigation on why we travel.. an appropriate and timely topic.  At the same time I started Fall of Giants, Ken Folletts new historical epic about the events surrounding WWI, written in his classic fashion of overlapping stories and historic detail. I downloaded this ebook on my reader since at around 700 pages, its hefty and bulky for travel. This book is the one that I curl up with at night before I go to sleep, an indulgence at the end of the day. I’ve read Folletts Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, both of which I have enjoyed very much. While I draw, I have been listening to The Greater Journey; Americans in Paris by David McCullough.. a story of the journeys of American intellectuals to Paris in the 1800s and how it affected their lives and work. The book so far has spoke of people such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Samuel Morse (I didn’t know he was a painter before the invention of the electric telegraph!), and Harriet Beecher Stowe.. just to name a few. The book is full of interesting tid bits while weaving a tale of history that is mesmerizing. I’ve listened to something like 9 hours so far and am still really into it. Next on the audio queue is Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged.. we’ll see how that goes.

The drawings today are a continuation of the geometric patterned pieces.. here are a few in process shots-

A bit of bizarre and sad news.. this morning the 2 kittens have gone missing! Paul checked in on them last night to feed them and the family was all intact..then, when we went again this morning at around 10am the kittens were not in their little box nest. We looked for them for an hour or so, all the while the Momma Cat meowed. The cats were not able to walk on their own yet, so they must have been carried off.. it’s just unclear if the Momma moved them for some unknown reason or if another animal got to them.

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June 13

The village of Uchisar rises above Cappadocia as a dramatic centerpiece, the houses embedded in a large volcanic mesa riddled with windows and doorways. Today I set out to summit this mesa and visit the Uchisar castle, which can be seen for miles around. I have heard that the view from the top of this outcropping is the best panorama available. I got a late start to my morning, having checked the weather online, I was a bit conflicted about whether today would be the best day to be out and about. The forecast for the next 5 days states ‘chance of thunderstorms’.. this, I have come to find out in Cappadocia, is unpredictable.. sometimes ‘chance of thunderstorms’ means that there will be a dark cloud that will roll through with no rain for 10 minutes, then clear skies for the rest of the day.. or it could mean that it will downpour for hours. I have also seen ‘chance of thunderstorm’ days that were hot and sunny with a few puffy clouds in the sky, and every source that I look to for advice is, at best, non committal. So, in response, I took my chances and headed out walking towards the highway in hopes of catching a bus. I was in luck.. after the 30 minute walk from Ibrahimpasa to the highway, I only had to wait 15 minutes to flag down the right bus to Uchisar. The bus dropped me at the turn off, and I walked the road headed for the mesa while keeping a watchful eye on the dark clouds forming on the horizon. The town of Uchisar I found to be quiet and less touristy than Goreme, the houses and streets still very traditional and mostly well kept. Following a strange sign of a yellow arrow on a half collapsed stone wall saying simply ‘<–CASTLE’ I wound through stone streets and stairs going up, up and up to the entrance to the castle. At its entrance were the expected tourist shops and terrace cafes, that somehow I had thankfully missed on my walk into town around the little residential streets.

Inside the castle entrance was a vague sign in english giving broken backstory of the castle as a Byzantine tomb, a few grave like carvings being visible at the top of the castle. The fairy chimneys to the North, West and East as visible from the top were also apparently tombs used by the Romans. The sign described tunnels that run from the citidel to the valley floors, used for ‘defense and escape purposes’.. but who was escaping and defending and when this was all happening was not described. Up the stairs I climbed to the summit, which I must admit, was worth the effort because the view was breathtaking. I could clearly see the Pigeon Valley, which was the days next conquest, and the end of the hike at Goreme. You could also see what I believed to be the towns of Nevsehir and Ankara from the summit. I tried to find the road to Ibrahimpasa.. where, about an hour before, I had taken the first picture of the day framing the far off looking Uchisar mesa, which I was now standing upon, as the goal.

Satisfied at my efforts, I descended the mesa and headed down the road to hike the along the bottom of the canyon, Pigeon Valley, towards Goreme. Down the main road of the village was the entrance to the hiking trail.. this, a scene all of its own. In a dirt parking lot was a stand advertising ‘Turkish Naturel Kappadokien Viagra Market’, I couldn’t help but take a photo at this..I will post it below. In the dirt lot there was the expected tourist stands with trinkets for sale, but there was also a tree filled with evil eyes that I found really quite striking. So, I headed down the hill on the hiking path despite the ominous black clouds hanging over head. Not 10 mintues into my hike I realized that this path would not necessarily be as simple as the maps described. The foot path would often branch off in 3 or 4 different directions.. in these occasions I would follow the path which looked the widest and most traveled.. sometimes this strategy would work well, but other times the path would suddenly end on a cliffs edge with no obvious way down or loop back upon itself. I was getting lost and found continually, all the while trying to logically follow the ravine headed towards Goreme with thunder started to rumble and echo through the canyon. At one point I past a man with a small puppy tending to his random field in the canyon.. then soon after I came to a point on the path that disappeared along the cliffs edge with no clear away around or down the canyon. Admitting to myself that I was a bit lost and not exactly liking the impending thunderstorm that it looked like I was about to be stuck in, I backtracked to ask the farmer directions. The farmer motioned for me to follow him after I grunted ‘Goreme?’, then proceeded to stealthfully maneuver down a broken path, complete with little foot holds he motioned that he had cut out of the slippery tufa, and a rope anchored in a cliff face that we repelled down. His sweet, gangly puppy followed us. ‘Where in the hell is this old man taking me? Should I be worried at this point?’ were my thoughts coupled with images of me trying to explain how I ended up chained to a cave wall to my boyfriend and father.. my reasoning of ‘I thought it was a safe hiking trail.. I am an experienced hiker and the old man seemed nice’ met with crossed arms and disapproving looks. Every couple of minutes while I was following the farmer, we would approach a beautiful overlook and he would shout gleefully in english, ‘pan-o-rama!!’.. which made us both laugh while I whipped out the iphone for photos.
In the end, he definitely played the hero rescuing a damsel in distress, showing me where the path to Goreme reappeared and cheerfully wishing me well. I walked the next 20 minutes in the pouring rain towards Goreme, happy that it all worked out.

I reached Goreme soaking wet.. the rain not looking like it was a passing phase, I ducked under a overhang in a strip of tourist restaurants. Unknowkingly, I had ducked into a hookah lounge/internet cafe where a middle aged South African couple sat on carpeted cushions under the covered patio who shouted to me from inside, ‘Come in! The beer is cheap!.’ I felt like I was in a stereotypical adventure move.. ‘Blonde tourist then enters Turkish hookah lounge..’. Sounds good, so I sat next to them and ordered a coffee while we shared travel stories… I told them of my little adventure in Pigeon Valley and they told me of Cape Town. The rain was not letting up so I decided that drastic measures of paying for a taxi back to Ibrahimpasa were in order, where I happily paid the 25 Lira to get home to my cozy little house.

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