Oh, wow! Today Ernest and I had our first hot air balloon ride, and what a ride it was! We had to get up at 5:00 am and it was cold, but once we got to the launch site, it was worth it.
There are several balloon ride companies but we were booked with the oldest one, Kappadokya Air, and we had the pilot trainer as our pilot. Getting in the basket was a little difficult for Ernest and I but the crew was great and lifted E up and helped me swing my big rear over. The hot gas warmed us up so the trip was very comfortable.
We rode up and down the Cappadocia valley. The rock formations here from the volcanic ash are so unique it is a World UNESCO site. The pictures tell a little but no picture can tell the thrill of floating through this beautiful valley. Both of us are so glad we spent the extra bit to have this experience. When we landed, which was pretty cool as they set us down right on the basket trailer, the pilot popped some sparking wine with a local berry juice to toast our trip.
We also got a little certificate, which was much prettier than the one we got from the Mt. Everest flight in Nepal.
We joined others at hotel that didn't take the ride and then spent the entire day riding through what we had just flown over. The rock formations with the rock on top of a pillar of ash are called Fairy Chimneys. Ancient locals believed fairies once co-inhabited this land with humans but got mad at humans and left. They left behind these chimneys so humans would always remember what they gave up. Actually, the volcanic ash has eroded between hard rocks over the last several thousand years but the rock prevented fast erosion for underneath. New chimneys are being made as the old finally erode so come here in a few thousand years and you'll see more.
We visited some 10th,11th and12th century cave churches. We couldn't take pictures inside, but the 10th century church used rich indigo blue as background and it is still very clear and very beautiful. We stopped for lunch at carpet co-op run by 80 families. No, I did not by a rug but E did get a little nervous for
Tonight we went to see an over 700 year old ritual done to illustrate the basics of Islam: love, thinking first of others and becoming closer to Allah or God, called the Whirling Dervishes. It's a meditation dance symbolizing becoming one with God through the whirl with the whirler's right hand to God and left hand to earth, and throwing off the black cloak of worldly goods to whirl in a gown of white. Our guide stressed to us this is not a performance to entertain, as some places do, but a group that shares a sacred ritual with us to help us understand their true faith better. This sect is trying to educate the true Islam and discount the radical Muslim abuses of Islam as it occurs in Syria, Iraq and Iran.
We aren't allowed pictures since they don't want to disturb the meditation but I found it very enlightening.
Even though this is a 97% Muslim country, since the government is secular, you don't feel different as you explore this country. I'm sure those of you who've been here would agree. But hearing the calls to prayer throughout the day does remind you where
you are but that you are treated politely with a friendly greeting everywhere.
Every faith has it's zealots and radicals and there are rising groups within Islam trying to teach that the true belief is love and tolerance. As I've mentioned in these blogs when we were in other places, we travel to learn and understand the people of the world better, and the more we learn of the major religions, all have very similar basic tenants at their core of love, patience and treating others with respect. It's how we choose to practice these beliefs that separates us and that drive the extreme edges to consider themselves above all others. I know alot of you don't agree, and that's ok, because it's our experiences that make us who we are.
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