Konya to Cappadocia was more or less flat and full of nothing. Besides one ride with a cocaine dealer (whose speed had my hands sweating a bit more than I’d like), I arrived in Cappadocia.
The area looks like nothing special at first. Some hills, lots of nothing, but when the road turns down towards Goreme, the central town, a few small caves turn into a sprawling network of caves and “fairy chimneys” that soon enough surround you. I can’t say I’ve seen anything like it before. It’s like a less green version of Hobbiton.
I spent the next few days living out of a cave hostel (it would be easy as hell to wild camp, but the prices are also incredibly cheap, due to recent issues no doubt), and wandering up various canyons, and sneaking into some of the hollowed out pillars of rock that had been mainly converted to storage of various kinds.
Many of the caves are noticeably too small for humans, with holes the right size for… Birds. Apparently, due to lack of decent soil for working, locals had decided to attract pigeons to the area and built some elaborate homes for them out of the easily workable rock. The birds’ leftovers would help fertilize the soil.
As I made my way through some of the canyons, it didn’t matter if I walked off the beaten path, or followed a tunnel made by water, there was always the mark of humans. Someone somewhere had called just about every corner of this place home for at least a little while. But this doesn’t surprise me. It was hard not to imagine making my own elaborate cave system to live in.
As impressive as Cappadocia is above ground, it’s even more spectacular as you go into one of the underground cities outside the Goreme area. This is what I discovered when I hitched over to Kaymakli, the little brother of Derinkuyu (the more touristy one).
It really is mind boggling to walk through these levels upon levels of caves and try to think of people actually living there. Generally they weren’t longterm dwellings, but more for protection during the many conflicts that the area had exoerienced. Massive circular rock doors could be rolled into place at entranceways, while massive vertical tunnels acted as ventilation shafts (one of which I dropped a coin down… It was deep). At some points the lights were burnt out, and I kept going with a flashlight, only to be too scared to continue when the tunnels grew smaller and smaller. While many tourists were in this place, it wasn’t hard to go so deep that you could be alone in the darkness.
One interesting little fact about the Christian areas, the car churches, is that most of the icons painted on the walls were missing their faces. This is because in Islam it is against the teachings to depict holy figures. So it was common practice to throw stones at these centuries-old paintings… Religions can be pretty silly…
After only a few days, however, I had to make my way towards Georgia to meet up with my Austrian friend. I don’t doubt I could spend more time in that place, though. I didn’t think I would be as impressed and taken in as I was, especially with how touristy it is… But I was pleasantly surprised.
The road pointed me towards Sivas, Erzurum, and on to Georgia. It wasn’t really getting cooler, but at least it wasn’t as humid at this point.. Gotta think on the bright side.
Here’s a few Cappadocian animals: