The Vegetarian Who Stayed for the Slaughter

Trip Start Nov 12, 2010
Trip End Nov 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
The Travel Inn Cave Hotel

Flag of Turkey  , Cappadocia,
Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Having packed the night before, I went down to breakfast ready to forge onwards to Goreme for my last three nights.  But before we headed off for our hike, we made two stops in Mustafapasa - first we sat down for a friendly cuppa with a local man in his shop as he was friends with Cetin.  Secondly, it being the first day of the Eid meant that the slaughter (or sacrifice - depending on your beliefs) of sheep and cows had begun.  That being the case, we went off in search of a blood trail as I had decided the day before that I did want to witness a ritual killing. My cultural curiosity had won out over my vegetarian sensibilities - just don't blame it on American bloodlust.

Anyhoo, we found a place that was doing the deed and at first, it looked like we'd missed the main event as they were only chopping up slabs of meat as at a butcher's shop, but shortly after that we spied a group of men coming up the lane with a reluctant cow in their midst.  The cow really seemed to realize that its end was imminent because they kept having to swat it in the behind to force it towards the building. Once in the concrete room, aka "killing zone," they hosed down the area where the cow would lay down so that it was "clean," then once the cow was tied securely, they flipped its legs out from under it so that it was lying down.  Then, the man who would do the "honors" started stroking the cow's neck, all the while the local men gathered around and started singing a lulling prayer song.  Whether or not it soothed the cow in its final moments, I'll never know, but it certainly added a bit of ceremony to the proceedings. Finally, the man slashed the cow's neck with one quick stroke of the knife and buckets of thick, dark red blood gushed forth.  I was actually shocked at the outpouring due to the sheer amount of it!  I'm sure humans don't have so much blood.  It got all over the floor and splashed the "executioner's" boots too.  I assumed the cow was dead at that point, but unfortunately, its body started moving spasmodically which forced me to turn away for a few moments while I gathered my wits.  The men then cut the cow's head off ending any and all semblance of life. Being a city gal, this was definitely an unsettling experience, but I suppose that on a farm, it wouldn't even raise an eyebrow.  Life and death go on and on...

Afterwards, we set off leaving the village behind us and started hiking in the Monastery Valley. We stopped at a couple of closeby churches- the St. Nicholas Monastery with loads of grafitti adorning the walls and Sinosas Church.  We walked for another 2 hours or so until we reached a mountain, which we then climbed in about 20 minutes or so (mind you- even though this mountain is over 1500m, we didn't start from sea level, so our ascent was only about 200 meters or so).  The view from the top was spectacular! I shot oodles of pictures and then we hunkered down for a picnic lunch we'd brought - a hard-boiled egg, cheese, bread and nuts. Gotta get me some protein whenever and wherever! Quite nourishing after a strenuous climb as well.  I dangled my feet over the edge and listened to some tunes on my iPod while feasting my eyes on the glory surrounding me. Bliss!

Once we'd managed to scramble down without breaking any bones, we carried on walking for another 1 1/2 hours through a relatively inauspicious valley which was a bit overgrown with thorny bushes.  It was grand having such a long hike as it made reaching the final destination feel like I'd earned it.

We were taken back to the Old Greek Hotel to pick up our luggage and then driven back to Goreme. My new hotel is called the Travel Inn Cave Hotel as it's built into the actual rock.  I was pleasantly surprised by its charm and appreciated the fact that I could get my wireless working from inside the room. It had tea/coffee making facilities as well - the small pleasures count ya'll!

My guide Cetin was staying elsewhere unfortunately as my hotel was fully booked so I went off by myself to a nearby cafe and hunkered down for a short spell with a cold beer as my companion.  After quenching my thirst, I went for a stroll through the center of town.  Lots of touristic shops on every corner and a very expensive haman (no thank you, very much). I purchased a bottle of red Cappadocian wine and some almonds for later consumption then went back to the hotel to rest before dinner.

Cetin arrived at 6:30 and we went to the SOS restaurant, sitting out on the balcony so as to breathe in the crisp, fresh night air.  My meal was not very special - tomato soup and some potato/onion concoction.  I must have pide, the Turkish equivalent to pizza, before I depart!

Once back at the hotel, I did some reading until overcome by fatigue..zzz
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