26 September 2003 Friday - Cappadocia to Konya - 65 Photos

Every hotel that we stay at, Kathy likes to get two extra pillows so she can cushion her knees and such. Consequently, every hotel we've ever been in, we have to ask the people at the front desk for extra pillows. As we get further into the country, the people speak less English, and so it becomes an increasingly difficult task, and I'm dealing with it more than Kathy. Therefore, I asked Mete for the Turkish word for pillow. He said the word was something like "Yastik." Then I asked him how to say "two" in Turkish and he said something like "Icky." Tonight, I can try to ask for "Icky Yastik" and with any luck, I'll get two pillows. He also said that "Please" is "Lutven" for what it's worth.

Today was not as eventful as yesterday. In the morning, Mete took us to see the other underground city, Yeralti Sehri.

It was perhaps bigger, but not better than the other one we saw. Still, it was very cool. It was another vast maze of tunnels and rooms and disc-shaped doorways.

It also had a huge ventilation shaft like the other underground city.

From there, we drove a long way until we got to this huge gorge called the Ihlara Valley that looked like a small version of the Grand Canyon.

There were 340 or so steps going down into the valley, with pistachio trees along the way (which I'd never seen before). At the bottom, there was a beautiful but small river,

and more caves carved by early Christians, including several small churches

with painted frescos.

Photographing these paintings is a challenge because you're not allowed to use a flash. Still, I think my camera did alright.

The climb back up to the top was long and tiring, but not as bad as I originally thought it would be.

We drove more and stopped to see a ruined Caravan Serai which was the place where caravans along the silk road could stop for the night in ancient times.

There were stables for the camels, a mosque above the entryway, sleeping rooms, etc.

We've seen a few of these now. For example, the night we saw the Whirling Dervishes, they did their performance in a Caravan Serai.

In back of this Caravan Serai, there was a beautiful blue lake, created by a sinkhole. The water was the most beautiful Turquoise Blue, but that didn't come out in the photos.

Next, we drove to a mountain where there is a weird antelope-like creature. Mete called it a type of goat, but it sure looked like a deer to me, except that the male of the species has curled horns like a Big Horn Sheep. Mete said that that species existed only on that mountain, so they were near extinction and protected. The entire mountain was behind a huge barbed-wire fence to prevent predators like wolves from attacking the sheep.

Then we drove to the town of Konya. Mete told us that Konya has a very high percentage of Fundamentalist Muslims, who he also calls "Stupid People." He says the town has about sixty percent fundamentalists, so we should be careful and conservative. By way of metaphor, he said that Konya was a Golden Bowl that was filled with scorpions. As he drove, he pointed at a guy on the street and said, "There's a scorpion. And there goes another, and another. Everywhere scorpions." He was clearly disdainful of these conservative Muslims who gave his beautiful secular republic a bad reputation around the world. Although Mete didn't say it, it's people like these who cause many Americans to think of Turkey as a dangerous Arabic country, and not the safe, modern European country that it really is.

Kathy and I went out walking before dinner and found a beautiful little park where people were playing with their children. After the park, we found a shop that sold curtains and bought some beautiful lace material for curtains. Kathy is very happy with her purchase. The shopkeeper asked us, "Where are you from?" We said, "United States of America." He said, "In Turkey, we like American people, but we also feel that George Bush is a very bad man." We heard that sentiment a lot. The people we met spoke very little English, so it was difficult but very fun to communicate with them.

I asked the front desk of the hotel for "Icky Yastik" and they happily provided two pillows, which were hard as rock.