Cruising along the country roads of rural ...
Trip Start Jun 01, 2002
20Trip End Aug 22, 2002
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Where I stayed
The rental man in Goreme had insisted that only five people could have the car, though it could easily fit six. Feigning disinterest and backpacker-belly, I wandered to the edge of town to await the funky chariot. With Mike in the driver's seat and Tom as Wingman, I squeezed into the backseat wtih Kim, Wally and Damien. Turkish music blaring, hair flying and arms waving at passers-by, we took off across the dusty countryside at the speed of a lawnmower.
We stopped to search for the elusive map as we neared the fairy chimneys outside Goreme
Fairy chimneys are fantastical, conical rock formations. Very Tolkienesque. If hobbits liked to live in upsidedown, icecream-cone shaped towers in a desert setting, then these would be their ideal residence. Local people still live in these structures though historically, they were used for pigeon coops. Having inspected one of these towers, I hate to think what it must have been like to live here with two floors of pigeons living overhead....
I met two gendarme, Hakkan and Tamar, who unfortunately didn't have mechanical skills but genially invited all of us to view their station. Theirs had to be the best police station in the world (well, in Turkey at least) - situated inside a fairy chimney, with views of the valley and the green and yellow fields of squash. The first level is for business, the second for relaxation. It was decked out with colourful rugs, pillows and couches. Artefacts replaced pigeons in the square cuts in the wall - lanterns, brass paltes, small pots. Such a great place to escape the midday heat
Turkey has mandatory military service. Hakkan informed me that men with university education, such as himself, are only obliged to undertake eight months of military service. Hakkan had ninety days left and was counting. Tamar reluctantly admitted that he had ten of his eighteen months service left. Still, this must be one of the nicest places to sit out military service. Brilliant scenery and peaceful people, apart from the occasional irate merchant. Much better than the east where the PKK is still a very real threat. Cappodocia is almost central Turkey, but not too close to the east to be of concern.
The PKK. It's interesting to absorb the various opinions about the PKK. Especially given the current rhetoric about terrorism in the west. The opinions I gathered from Turkish people I met was that, generally, the PKK are regarded with disgust. An attitude that is slightly tinged with fear. One Turkish friend estimated that thirty thousand people had been murdered by the PKK over the last fifteen years. They are a scary force being sponsered by Turkey's neighbours and enemies with the aim of causing social and political upheaval. Iran and Syria are reputed to actively fund and arm the PKK as retaliation for Turkey's aid to Israel. Moreover the aim of these nations is to 'solve the Kurdish problem' or more aptly, displace the Kurdish people from their own populations to a 'Kurdish homeland' in Eastern Turkey under the protection the PKK
Hooning around the countryside, Turkish political concerns and realities seemed a world away. Our only immediate danger were three immense hounds that barreled down the road, threatening to roll the car. They bore a striking resemblence to the horrid hounds of Harry Potter. The fear of hitting them was only slightly outweighed by the fear of them jumping into the car.
The Turkish countryside is beautiful. Rocky plains rising to grassy plateus and walnut trees. The countryside has eyes, ears and telephones that ran hot to Goreme with reports of six people in the car. We were in the wrong for having an extra person but the legality of it was that any fault would come to us not the owner. The drama of the paperwork ensued as the Cranky Car Mannie sent his henchman to follow the lads around Goreme. It's not a big place and there is little escape from a car salesman and his mates. Kim and I lay blissfully by the pool at the Flintstones Hostel oblivious to the drama until the threatening phonecalls began and continued for the afternoon.
Cranky car mannie: "You have my paper. You did not give back all the registration!"
Mike: "Yes we have. What are you talking about?! I gave you the papers then you took our money."
CCM: "You have my paper!"
Mike(finding the paper) "Actually yeah, we do. Sorry. We'll bring it down later."
CCM: "You bring it down now!" (Note: It is forty degrees and none of us want to walk into town especially for a man who took some of our money)
Mike; "Wally, deal with this."
Wally (in his best imitation of Vinnie Jones): "You're a criminal, you are mate. If you want your paper come and get it."
CCM: "I have ten military here! I will send them to you. No, fifteen military will come to you!!!!"
Wally: "Alright then."
With thoughts of 'Bring it on' we awaited the arrival of the gendarme. Kim and I hoping it might be Hassan and Tamar again. A car pulled up. A man... his dog.... and little kid got out of the car. So much for the military.
So having upset the local car dealer and his mates, not to mention Mike upstaging the local belly dancer at the Turkish Night, we somehow made it out of Goreme alive and with all kneecaps intact.