The strange world of Cappadocia

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May 26th 2010
Published: May 26th 2010
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Arriving very earlyArriving very earlyArriving very early

what a lovely sight
The underground and above ground world of Cappadocia.
I arrived here this morning about 7am after the bus trip from hell. The bus itself was comfortable, but I just don’t seem to be able to sleep in planes, trains, buses and an automobile, as the saying goes.
As we arrived at the main bus terminal in Antalya last night at around 9.30pm. My first impression was there was a riot going on, or an overflow from the heated soccer match that had been played in town that evening. There were hundreds and hundreds of people at the station, traffic were in a logjam, police everywhere.
When a Turk gets stuck in traffic he does one thing, jump on the horn, no two things, he yells out the window as well; for however long it takes for the traffic to clear. Combine that with the boy racers, yes turkey has its own version of boy racers, patriotic ones, they zoom about with the Turkish flag on the bag of the car bleating there very loud horns.
This unusual event was re-enacted in three bus stations in the city of Antalya last night. As a result our bus trip became a bit longer. The reason for this gathering was that essentially thousands of people turned out was that ten 18 year old boys had been selected in the draft for National Service. Yes ten. All the family and friends had come to say goodbye as they headed off, they don’t expect to see their boys again. That’s the tradition. It was a very moving period in time as I watched from the security and comfort of my bus seat as the girlfriends, the sisters, and the mothers all shed tears for their boys.
Cappadocia is a very special area, but in saying that does it no justice. The history here goes back to when it was first formed, 40 million years ago. In a brief summary a series of volcanic eruptions, then erosion, creating what look like fairy chimneys. Folk lore says it was the work of fairies. Then inhabitants came along and built caves underground initially to escape the wrath of passing armies, and then houses above ground in the fairy chimneys as things became safer. At one point a lot of Christians sought refuge here in caves. Today I explored an underground city, I walked, crawled, clambered down four levels. A fully functional life underground, including cooking, water, ventilation and animal housing.
If you own a bit of land in this area and you are able to market it as a cave, you can get up to 20,000 lira a year in rent from market gardeners in all areas of the country. The temperature is a consistent 15’ but there is something about the cave that preserves and enhances food, so it’s better that a cool store, more environmentally friendly and cheaper.
Tomorrow I’m up at 5am to go for a sunrise balloon adventure over the wonderland that is Cappidocia.

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