I am sitting in an internet cafe in Cappadocia, Turkey, a
region famous for its cave dwellings. In fact, our hotel room is a cave carved
into a hillside! It's an amazing result of years of volcanic activity covering
the earth with ash, which became somewhat petrified and then eroded by wind and
rain, and snow. There is so much deterioration that the many cave churches,
frescoes and all, will be mostly gone in the next 10-20 years. Wild!
This is day 14 and the country is simply amazing! We started out in Istanbul, headed down the Aegean Coast and all along the Western Mediterranean Sea. We are now close to Central Turkey and will explore the East, the Black Sea region and then head through central Turkey and back to Istanbul.
The people have been very welcoming and curious about our adventure; the food is soooo good (read: diet in my future!); the natural beauty here is remarkable; the culture is intriguing; and the history is ancient and so multifaceted!
We are exploring on our motorcycle and have so enjoyed this mode of travel. It makes for instant conversations with most everyone whom we run into (not literally!). And the farmers and villagers always smile and wave!
...we were invited to join in a village celebration for the people from six remote villages just outside Assos on the Aegean Coast - amazing experience and wonderful food! Everyone participated in the preparation and seemed to really enjoy sharing it with us. We hooked up our little Canon printer (yes, on the bike!), snapped shots of the village kids and printed them out for their families, many of whom have no pictures of their kids. They were so happy and appreciative.
...we road the twisting mountain roads, used for the Turkish Rally Race (fast cars traveling through winding mountain roads at top speed!), through the Taurus Mountains along the Mediterranean Coast. It was reminiscent of the Italian and Swiss Alps, and I half expected Julie Andrews to belt out a tune from the top of the next mountain!
...we visited Ephesus, Aphrodiasis and Troy - amazing photo ops and we could easily envision life in the Lycian, Byzantine and Ottoman eras.
...we had a private mass at Meryamma, the final home of the Virgin Mary. This was an amazing experience...no words could do it justice.
...we visited an old Caravanserai, a sort of "hotel" for the camel caravans that ran the silk route in order to trade goods with the East. These "hotels" were developed between the local merchants and the governing bodies along the route to provide a safe haven for the camel drivers and their camels, and a nice income for the locals.
Last night we were very fortunate to have attended a performance by the Whirling Dervishes, an order of the Muslim religion that uses a meditative dance as a form of prayer, in a completely restored caravanserai. There are no words to capture the feeling of seeing these men twirl in a tantric state, never dizzying and moving in pure fluidity. The music and words involved in the ceremony were absolutely hypnotic!
And the adventure continues...on to Syria and Jordan tomorrow...