Day 248 - Rock Talk
Trip Start Jan 10, 2011
221Trip End Jan 08, 2012
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Where I stayed
Melek Cave Hotel (Goreme)
After breakfast we set out to explore the renowned hiking just outside our village of Göreme. We followed the road out of town, bypassing the famed Göreme Open Air Museum since it was infested with tour buses. We hope to return and see the ancient cave churches.
There were cave dwellings clearly visible by the roadside and we eagerly veered towards them and we are so glad that we did. Despite being just outside of town we found some really cool caves that included religious Christian carvings and paintings as well as living quarters that anyone could simply walk up to. There were more than we could take in over a few days let alone one afternoon. There is contention if or when these were actually full time dwellings or rather a refuge from invading enemies. Each cave was pleasantly cool and it seems logical that in the hot summer sun they would have been a haven in the hot summer heat.
We explored caverns clearly used for cooking, sleeping and living. Eli saw a darkened area off one of these rooms and discovered a tunnel that seemed to angle up. He was glad he brought his Petzel headlamp as he crawled up the tunnel eventually on hands and knees before emerging in another room much higher up the rock. It seemed that this was likely an escape tunnel where the access from below could be blocked from above with rocks etc.
Mia was snapping away and while taking pictures out of a 'window' her sunglasses fell about 40m into a thin canyon below. This turned out to be fortuitous as we circled around and then up the valley moving in between the wall thrilled that her glasses were intact. This route revealed another perspective to the rock dwellings reinforcing the security aspect of the higher caves. Mia had a snack of white grapes that could have been a source of food for the rock dwellers over a thousand of years ago.
We did some easy free climbing as we got out of the valley. Oriented we moved north across the red and rose valleys quickly leaving the main path for disappearing and reappearing paths that led past active gardens of squash as well as white and red grapes.
Because of the bushwacking route we had a few scratches from thistles and the like but it was worth well worth the adventure. Actually getting down into the valley required some investigation and then some sliding and free climbing down crumbling (mostly) solid ‘dunes’ which was both dirty and thrilling!
On the way out we found a very small church with an ochre painted cross on the ceiling. This natural obelisk had a window 20m above and Eli walked around it seeking the access. Turns out it required some free climbing, well within his abilities, then an awkward entrance into a tunnel about a half meter square. He crawled on his belly up through the tunnel to the viewpoint then repeating the approach in reverse to get down.
We eventually reached the small town of Çavuşin and were charmed by a multi-lingual café proprietor as we ravenously ate some delicious Turkish fare while in the shadow of the ruins of a looming wall of caves. This rock form was used as a fort though it also contained a Christian church with 3 (relatively) large halls. The paint had faded considerably and the images had been largely disfigured – likely based on Islam’s prohibition on icons – in this amazing chamber in this memorable complex.
On the other side of the caves we walked down to see up close some of the famous rock formations native to this area. Obviously different types of rock had settled (unconnected!) on the pillars below, balancing precariously for hundreds of thousands of years.
We caught a short dolomus ride back to Goreme were we stopped at a local café. Mia had the best Kofte we’ve had yet while Eli experimented with a mix plate of meats. He also tried some local wine which was very dry but enjoyably fruity.
We finished the night with a couple games of Tavla, Eli lucking his way into the win column.