A Visit to Tatoin

Trip Start Oct 26, 2006
Trip End Aug 2007

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Flag of Turkey  ,
Wednesday, June 27, 2007

After getting cooked out of southwestern Turkey along the "turquoise coast", we hopped on a night bus to the Cappadocia region in the central part of the country. Upon arriving in Goreme at 6:30am after very little sleep, we felt like we were still in dreamland. The landscape in Cappadocia is such that it makes you feel like you've landed in Luke Skywalker's hometown. It is made up of mostly volcanic rock and the weather has transformed this rock into shapes that make it hard to believe there wasn't some human involvement in their formation. In fact, there was some human involvement, but more on the inside of the rock, not the outside. Because the rock is very porous, it makes it relatively easy to carve out the insides to make dwellings for houses, churches, storage, etc. For the most part the people don't live in them anymore (at least in Goreme) after they were determined unsafe a while back. Though there are several "cave hotels" that tourists can stay in for a pretty good price. We however chose to camp in Goreme, and are now very glad we did. We stayed at Kaya Camping, which is up the hill from Goreme with a fantastic view of the valley and the landscape with its crazy formations and spectacular colors (especially around sunrise and sunset). This was likely our favorite campground of the trip so far. They had a great pool for lounging next to in the hot afternoons (under an umbrella), and free cooking facilities! It's always nice to have a countertop for meal preparations.
The highlight of our camping experience here were our neighbors. One of them was a fellow bike tourer, Eric from Germany. He had ridden all the way here from Germany, and is on his way to Nepal! Our other neighbors, Andreas and Marga, were an older German couple traveling Westfalia-style. Their camper van has not been home in 10 years!!! All they do is travel, except for a visit home to Germany every 3 months to see the grandchildren. They were so inspiring. You name it, they have been there. These were our immediate neighbors. There was a British family also staying in the campground who had converted an old bus into their travel-mobile. They had 3 kids with them - 2 boys maybe ages 8 & 10, and a little 1 year old girl. They are home schooling the boys for the year-long trip, and they started this journey when little Amali was only 6 months old!!! Wow, we were impressed. So maybe we have hope that we won't be limited to 2 week, domestic trips for 10 years after we have a kid. If they could do it with 3 kids, we could do it with 1.
Other highlights included watching the hot air balloons while drinking our coffee at 6 in the morning. We had thought about taking one of these spectacular 1 hour rides above the "fairy chimneys", but decided there were many other things that we'd like to spend $200 on. Besides, we had a great view from our tent. J Another highlight was the underground city in Kaymakli, which the Christians occupied during times of war for about 1200 years to hide from enemies. The city was 8 floors deep, and housed about 5,000 people total. We hired a guide for this trip, and it was well worth it to find out about their communication systems, how they protected themselves against intruders with their maze-like pathways, and essentially how they survived living underground and not surfacing for up to 6 months at a time. Normally we are not so interested in seeing all of the "old rocks" (as we jokingly call the ruins), but this was a fascinating look into a whole society's way of living. We would highly recommend this to anyone visiting Turkey.
In summary, we would highly recommend anyone who is visiting Turkey to go to Cappadocia. Mother Nature has done some amazing things, so much so that parts of the region have been deemed a World Cultural and Heritage Site by UNESCO.
BOOK PLUG: Seth has now finished, and Holly is about 50 pages into, a book that has provided an interesting perspective as we have traveled through different lands and cultures.  It is called Collapse, by author Jared Diamond. It's a long one (about 500 pages), but discusses societies old and new, their surrounding environment, how they have utilized that environment, and how that has affected the society's success or failure to survive.  We'd like to note, too, that it provides views from both sides of the political spectrum, and doesn't just support the environmentalist view.  We can't say it is a feel- good book, but we believe it is an important read.
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