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.




About Lives of Cappadocia Project

Aili Schmeltz is a contemporary visual artist living and working in Los Angeles, CA.
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