Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Walking on Sunshine

Posted from Goreme, Turkey at 9:35 pm, July 20th, 2014

I woke up at 6:15 this morning, walked up to the uppermost terrace of my cave hotel, and watched 26 hot air balloons floating over the rock formations. Life is that awesome right now.

The day’s plan was to hop in a van and go see evidence of civilizations that were here millennia ago, starting with the Kaymaklı Underground City. The “city” part of the name is actually accurate – ancient people hacked the rock to build tunnels and living quarters that are large enough to hold 4000 people with enough supplies to withstand sieges from invaders for several months. The underground labyrinth has at least 100 rooms that extend below the surface for eight levels and a depth of at least 70 meters, with the oldest portions dating back as far as 2000 BC. I had no idea such a thing had ever existed in this world, but seeing the lengths ancient people were willing to go to in order to escape from invaders made me very, very appreciative that I live in a time when it is no longer necessary to deal with surprise raids from barbarian hordes.

The next stage of the journey was an eight mile hike through the Ihlara Valley, a hideout for early Christians escaping religious persecution (at that time “religious persecution” was a euphemism meaning “a horrible, awful, terrible death”, so the hiding was mostly justified). Cave houses were everywhere, and hidden churches appeared at regular intervals. Sadly the frescoes in the churches were heavily obscured by graffiti – “crazy lovers” was how the guide I was with described the perpetrators – so works of art dating back to the first few centuries AD are now victims of visitors who felt it was important to scratch their initials and the date of their visit into the ancient plaster. JC would have been forgiving, but it gave me a significant frowny face inside.

With all of the day’s activities there wasn’t time to take photos of my uber-awesome cave hotel room, so those will need to wait for a later journal entry when extreme tiredness isn’t such an immediate concern.

Cappadocia landscape at sunset

Cappadocia landscape at sunset. There is an ancient cave house or storage space carved into just about every piece of rock in the area.

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