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Published: March 15th 2005
Pugner and I carefully weighed each word of the first travel agent who tried to set us up with a package tour. We cross checked all of the prices. We were dilligent.
Then we checked our email, got tired, and bought the first package that the internet cafe guy (who possibly wasn't even a travel agent) mentioned to us. Without checking anything.
We ended up with a cheap flight to the Capadocia region, which is famous for wacky geological formations and underground cities. The area has been inhabited for a long time by people wishing to basically be left alone. People would come here and carve houses, churches, even whole cities out of the relatively soft volcanic rock. The idea was that attackers wouldn't be bothered to try and dig them out, or climb up the steep slopes to reach the people inside.
We had a really good time here. Pugner was deathly ill, so he was resting quite a lot. We toured a whole lot, saw about a billion carved churches. There were a TON of churces carved in the Byzantine period - for the non-historians amongst us, that's after Constantine moved the capitol of the Roman
Empire over to Constantinopol and converted the official religion to Christianity.
Our tour guide spoke fluent Japanese, which was handy because we had about 5 Japanese folks on the tour with us. Apparently his Japanese was pretty good. He certainly surpassed my rock-song instilled knowledge of Japanese (Domo-arigoto, Mr. Roboto).
Not a lot of comical stories to report from this region. It was mostly relaxing.
Oh - I did spend a day walking by myself (another time when Pugner as down with the plauge or whatever he had). I walked from Urgup to Georme (probably butchering both spellings), for a total of about 7 or 8 miles. It was a fantastic experience. The pictures that I have posted can't even begin to do justice to the landscape out there. It is just erie. The closest thing that I have seen in the states would be Bryce Canyon in Utah.
I hiked around on some hills, and spent a couple hours contemplating the meaning life. And throwing rocks off of really high places.
At one point a soldier stopped and beckoned for me to get in his ride (an ultra-millitary Ford Escort). By Ultra-millitary, I mean
the opposite. It was just some guy's ride. The guy happened to be on his way to work, and happened to have a pretty big machine gun in the passenger seat. He wanted to give me a ride. I actually wanted to walk, but I usually don't start arguments with guys that have big machine guns in their passenger seat, so I got in. The back seat. I didn't really want to mess around with the machine gun.
He was a really cool guy. Explained that he was a soldier. I said that I was surprised. He drove me about a kilometer or so, then motioned that we were going our separate ways. I thanked him, got out, and continued about my business.
Another odd experience to relate. About in the middle between the two cities, it was prayer time.
I don't know how many of you have been in a muslim country before, but the call to prayer is an odd thing. From every mosque, you hear someone singing in arabic a bunch of times per day. Of course, I have no idea what they are saying, but it sounds really cool. I always imagine that
Taken from inside an underground city. These cities were started by the Hittites, then finished by Christians seeking to escape persucution by the Romans. They could fit upwards of 150,000 people in the 38 inter-connected cities.
the singer is extolling some bits of wisdom, passed down through the Koran. However, for all I know, they could be saying "Get up off your arse, it's p-diddly-Prayer time".
So I am in the middle of this wacky landscape about equidistant between the two towns. This puts me at least 3 miles from any civlization. No cars are around. No sounds at all. Then the mosque in village number one starts up. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but the whole place is in a bit of a valley. The speaker's voice was loud enough to create an echo. 3 seconds later, the second village's mosque kicks in. Now I have the first guy singing, then his echo, then the second guy singing what sounds like the same words, but in a different voice and 3 seconds behind, which is immediately followed by the echo from #2. All of this in the middle of no where. It was really kind of odd! I seriously wish that I could understand what they were saying.
One last little tidbit about calls to prayer - I was sitting in village #2, sipping a Turkish coffee. I was just
doing some reading, and watching all the old guys BS about life and love and what not (or at leas that's what I imagined that they were talking about). All of a suddden -blamo - it's Prayer time again. This time I am sitting 50 feet from the speaker, so I can FEEL the speaker's voice. So all of the old guys gradually sat their backgammon and teas down and shuffle over to the mosque. I mean the place empties out, but with old-man slowness. That never really happened in Istanbul. Meaning the emtpying out bit, not the old-man slowness bit. I got the sense that people were more serious about religion in the country side.
Feeling confident about the whole hitching a ride from the solider thing, I actually hitched my way back to Urgup. I got picked up by what turned out to be an Iraqi couple. When they said that, I was a little concerned, but they turned out to be the super duper nice. I offered them cookies in hopes that they wouldn't associate me with the badness going on in their country. The woman rejected my offer, on account of her wanting to maintain
her womanly figure. The man heartily ate two. I guess people really are the same everywhere...
We ended our time in C-ocia by deciding to head to Cyprus. Adding our knowledge of Cyprus together, Pugner and I decided we didn't know jack about the place. Something about Turks on one side and Greeks on another. Eh...
We were seasoned travelers, right? What could POSSIBLY go wrong?
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