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Takin' a Walk (and so much more) in Cappadocia: Part Two

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Warning: The following is sort of a disclaimer. It's sort of a love letter to you. It's sort of a love letter to Cappadocia. Whatever it is, it's not the official beginning of this post. This post begins with Chapter 1 (below). Still, you may want to start reading here...

There's history in Cappadocia. So much history. There's history about why the land looks like Mars, inhabited by fairies and gnomes. There's history about why Christian monasteries dot the surface and underground cities used by Christians line underneath the land where Muslim Call to Prayer is broadcast five times a day. There's history about why, to me, Turkish music and dance feels Indian, Russian, Greek, and so much more than (just) Turkish.

I can not possibly fully comprehend this history, let alone teach it. I was not here when the lava erupted and the wind and rain formed the formations of earth we see in Cappadocia today. I am not from this section of the world to know the Turkish culture as my own. I have not studied who fought who and why and how that has rippled out and impacts the politics of Turkey today. This is not "my land" nor "my people" to feel my roots from or into. It is not mine yet it is so very interesting.

I can tell you my perspective from my experiences, try to capture the history and stories shared with me by locals, and show you my humble pictures and videos. I can call upon Ms. Google to help fill in the gaps.

You know that I take pictures and videos for you...? I don't need to look through a lens to see what's here. I don't need to capture each moment for the future. I snap pictures and write about them for you. It is the only way I know to bring you into my experience. I can not fly your physical body here, yet I want you here with me. When I take a picture, psychologically, spiritually, energetically, and emotionally you are here with me. I feel your presence.

This feels significant for a number of reasons. One reason is that when you are here with me, I do not feel lonely. I guess in this way, the pictures I take for you are ultimately for me.

Another reason is that I love you. I am grateful for your presence and support. I want to show you this. I want to give you something in exchange for your presence. I don't have the kind of money to purchase tangible gifts. Even if I did, I already have, as you may recall, too many too heavy bags to lug around.

Maybe you are like me. Maybe you do not want more baggage. I am hoping that you would rather I bring you here (as best I can) than have me bring stuff from here to you. I imagine it would not be as meaningful for you to receive a t-shirt that says "Ami was in Cappadocia and I got this shirt." I hope that you feel like you are here and we are together, even though yours is a vicarious experience through blogs. I hope that in some way we are having a shared experience and that you are enriched by it.

I have an older iPhone with an older camera, and I am not a great photographer. Despite these factors, it is fairly easy to take fairly amazing pictures, because... this is Cappadocia.

Check out these pictures:

I snapped these pictures while on a walk one day. I did not need to take numerous shots and pick the best one. I did not use a filter or alter the picture. I did not telescope in. I did not walk back to get a better perspective. One click. I turned my body toward another direction. Another click. That was it. Two amazing pictures. Welcome to Cappadocia.

Because I want you to experience the magic and majesty of Cappadocia, and I try to do that by taking pictures of what is around me here, I am paying more attention to my surroundings. Because of you, I am more present and curious. Because of you, I am a better explorer.

Because of you, I am also a better researcher. By wanting to explain the pictures I am posting, I move beyond my own perspective. Because of you, I am exploring Cappadocia not only from my very limited experiential view. I am also learning about Cappadocia through the factual lens of the ever helpful Ms. Google.

Maybe these pictures and videos will inspire you as you and they have inspired me. Maybe you will ask Ms. Google more about Turkey, and in particular, about the history of Cappadocia. I do not usually advocate spending one's day in front of a screen, getting lost down a rabbit hole. I assure you, though, Cappadocia is worth going into a hole.

Chapter 1: Inside-Out

My camera battery was dead when I saw the welcome sign to the Monastery of St. Nicholas. I had been planning to walk back up the hill behind my cave-home to take a picture of the sign. I thought the sign would help explain the other buildings that I took pictures and videos of, fairy and gnome buildings that honor other saints. There have been reasons why I did not bring you back with me, up the hill, until Sunday. There are reasons why, before Sunday, for the most part, I myself did not go up the hill. There are reasons why I was, instead, holed up (or, was hold up) in my cave room.

There are gentle, generous, funny, intriguing, and kind beings all around us. I find these qualities in humans and non-humans alike, in the living and the non-living. There are beings who soften my heart. Beings who bring me to joy. Beings who I trust and call friend. There are beings who I don't notice, who bore me, who piss me off, who cause me pain. On a good day, when I am sitting in the seat of my most mature, highest, largest, whole Self, I can clearly see that teachers present in a variety of ways.

Here, there is a young woman who could be categorized in a group known in the states as "mean girls." When I first met her she presented with brightness and smiles. I quickly experienced the sting of what felt like her abusive attitude toward me. Over the course of almost two weeks, after being stung by a number of her arrows, I retreated to my cave room. After boiling and stewing in my indignant, hurt feelings (for a while), I decided it was time to look inward. All I see is a reflection of myself, after all. When we point a finger at someone, three fingers are pointing back, after all. After all the boiling and stewing, what bubbled up was that I needed to do subpersonality work.

Inside, I met "Bossy Bitchy Pants" (aka: Mean Bitchy Girl). She is aged four. She may be two. She may be a pre-teen. Sub work is not solid. Bossy Bitchy Pants is a girl. She may be a boy. Again, sub work is a fluid tool. Bossy Bitchy Pants wants to be right, even if she or he has to lie. She or he holds on to hurt feelings, blames others, is indignant, feels superior, tells others how to do things, laughs at others, and gets friends to put others down too. What Bossy Bitchy Pants really wants is respect. What she or he doesn't know is that it is better to witness, get curious, let go and let be.

I (the larger Self who knows that Bossy Bitchy Pants is a small part of my whole self) have grown to understand more than what my small part is aware of. I understand that it is better to witness, get curious, let go and let be. This larger sense of "I" can offer this aged wisdom to Bossy Bitchy Pants. She or he needs this from me.

"I" can hold Bossy Bitchy Pants in my huge heart arms, look into those needy little girl or boy eyes, and clearly and unequivocally tell them that "I see you. I hear you. I accept you. I respect you," even when someone else does not. She or he needs this from me.

"I" can hold a repellant and compassionate shield up to (hurting) people who shoot arrows at this little part. "I" know that the pain and defenses of others is not about me or my little part. Yet even while being compassionately aware of others, "I" can (and will) protect my little Bossy Bitchy Pants. She or he needs this from the larger sense of me.

That is one reason I holed up (or, was hold up) in my cave room. I had some healing integration work to get through.

Another reason was Thanksgiving Thursday. In the states, Thursday was Thanksgiving. Often, I feel sad on Thanksgiving. Not being in the states did not seem to stop me from feeling sad. Often, when I feel sad I isolate. Here in Turkey, I felt especially alone.

I went to the hotel-cafe a couple of times on Wednesday and Thursday. At those times I said to someone: "In America it is a holiday. Thanksgiving. Do you know this holiday?" Each time the response was "No" and the person turned away from me to do something else. Often, the something else is to continue speaking in Turkish to others speaking Turkish.

I do not know if American holidays are of no interest to people in Turkey. Maybe it is the language barrier that stops conversation. Either way, I felt alone. Each time someone turned away from me, I got up and walked back to my cave room. Except for those attempts to socialize, I remained holed up under the covers.

Another reason I stayed under the covers in my cave room for the better part of a week was the weather. It has been cold. Wintery cold. And, honestly, under the covers is the only place I have found warmth. So I became a big, mostly sad and lonely, cozy bear and hibernated.

I hibernated until the sun shone through my cave room door onto my face (the only part of me poking out through my covers).The sun shining on my face inspired me to get out of bed. It seemed time for this bear to step out of the cave.

When I stepped out onto the Monastery Hotel terrace, it was warmer than it had been for days. The sun was literally warming the air temperature back up to 15 degrees Celsius. That's 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I am stating that conversion here for those of us who can not calculate Celsius to Fahrenheit... because we grew up in the USA... which refuses to teach Celsius and the metric system.

Chapter 2: The Indian family from Canada

When I stepped out of hibernation, it was Friday.

When I walked down to the hotel-cafe to make a cappuccino, I befriended an Indian family from Canada staying here at the Monastery Cave Hotel.

First, I met Salima. She came to the cafe asking for a mop. They had just arrived and while unpacking, her mom, Mehroon (aka: Mary), had dropped their bottle of wine and it broke. Later Salima came back down to the cafe and sat with me and my cappuccino. We talked. I liked her right off the bat. Salima was Indian, from Canada, and spoke English. What was not to like? What was not to love, for that matter? She felt like the friend I had been waiting for.

Then her husband, Riaz joined us. Riaz stated that he was age 61. Salima stated that he was 62, because "You will be 62 in two weeks." I think the quickly-aging Riaz was not ready to hear this. I think this because Riaz just about stated word-for-word that he is not ready to be this number (aged 62). I observed and stated that Riaz is still 61, and said, "no rush." Then his 35-year-old cousin, Imran joined us. Come to find out, the two men share the same birthday. Inshallah (God willing, as they say), Imran will soon turn 36. When I heard that they share a birthday and it will be around the corner, I wished them both an early happy birthday. I stated that, by wishing them a happy birthday now, I did not mean to rush things. We all chuckled.

Salima shared that she was born in Africa and that her family moved to Canada when she was age ten. Salima's husband Riaz shared that this current trip is fulfilling Salima's mom's (Mary's) bucket list. Salima shared that Mary's bucket list item was to travel through India, and that, because of political reasons, Canadian's are currently unable to obtain visas to India. "So instead," Salima and Riaz shared, "we have traveled in Africa, and now Turkey, and next we will travel to Saudi Arabia." The cousin, Imran, shared that he is traveling with the family (on Mary's alternative bucket list tour) because, though he does not know why, "I follow Riaz wherever he goes."

Then, Salima's mom, Mehroon (aka: mother Mary) joined us. You may recall that the group was accommodating Mary's bucket list, that she had wanted to tour India, and that she could not. Although Mary was enjoying this (alternative) whirlwind tour, she mentioned missing some things Indian, like, Indian food... like, cooking an Indian meal.

We were joined by the final member of their group, Ali Merchant (aka: "Ali" or "Mr. Merchant" or "Mr. Ali Merchant"). Mr. Ali Merchant, come to find out, is mother Mary's landlord. The fact that Mr. Merchant was currently trekking through the world with a family not related to him by blood was not an especially long or complicated story to hear. The reader's digest version of the story did speak to Ali's character, though.

Ali was a 78-year-old man, tall and lanky (like a camel). I just described him in this way because I learned that, once, while being supportive to Mary, Mr. Ali Merchant referred to himself in exactly this way: "tall and lanky, like a camel." I may or may not share why camels are significant to Mary. It is an intriguing story, for sure. Yet, it is Mary's story to tell. Maybe I will share some of it. I think I will. Not now though. Now, we are talking about Mr. Ali Merchant.

Mr. Ali Merchant was Indian born with dual citizenship to Canada and India and therefore did not need a visa to travel to India. Ali, come to find out, is such a well-loved person, he was invited by students (in Toronto) to stay with the students' Indian families, on their family farms, in India. So he did. When he returned from India (to Toronto), this family invited him to join them on this trip. And he did.

I am not usually one for small talk. All this pleasant, humorous, and interesting small talk, though, was in English. After being alone in Turkey, conversing in English felt like breathing. So, I was all about this small talk. I hope you enjoyed some small talk, too.

I asked if anyone wanted to take a "long walk" with me. Riaz and Imran joined me. I led us up the hill to the monastery and to the other saints' buildings behind the monastery. On the way up the hill we chatted. Riaz told me all the touristy things they had done. The two men were curious what I had done. I told them I basically hang out at the hotel-cave.

On this long walk, on Friday, I could have taken a picture of the sign. You remember the welcome sign to the Monastery of St. Nicholas... that I wanted to take a picture of... for you? Well, first of all, at this point in my story (walking with Riaz and Imran), I had forgotten about the sign. I am betting you can understand this. I am betting you forgot about the sign too. Secondly... There is a second point. I will share it with you. But not now. Trust me. Please do not hold it against me that I forgot once. I will not forget again. I promise.

On our long walk up the hill, I learned that Imran's mom had died, from cancer, four months earlier. This prompted me to share that Jessica had died from cancer almost three years ago. We stopped on the hill to catch our breath, share a deep hug, and talk about what it was like to watch someone we loved so dearly die from cancer.

Imran shared with me that, with his mom, he witnessed two trajectory lines. While he watched the health of his mom's body steadily decline, he also noted that her spirit steadily lifted higher. "At some point," he said, (the point being when she died), "the two lines met."

We climbed the hill and passed the monastery to some of the structures I had previously explored. We walked and talked, and I shared all I had learned. By the time we were done climbing up fairy chimneys and into caves, and were back at the hotel-cafe, Riaz, who stated that he would never have done what we had just done without me, asked me to tour them the next day through the underground city in Kaymakli.

Chapter 3: The Underground Cities of Cappadocia

I had been to the underground city in Kaymakli the Saturday before, with Ercan and two Argentinian backpackers. I had asked Ercan to recommend an underground city for me to explore. He recommended the entrance to one in Kaymakli. I asked him if he wanted to bring me there. It took days for Ercan to feel free enough to leave his hotel-cafe and answer me with a "Yes." Come to find out, Ercan had not been away from this hotel-cafe, to explore his homeland, including the underground cities, for 14 years.

The two backpackers had left Argentina five years ago and, since then, have been backpacking together, all over the world. Ercan and I kind of fell in love with these two adventuring hippies. We each invited them on our day trip to Kaymakli to explore the underground city there. The day Ercan was able to get away, and had said "Yes" was the day the two Argentinians had planned to leave Mustafapaşa and Cappadocia. In true nomadic style, when we asked if they would join us, the two Argentinian backpackers, walking toward the bus to leave, said: "Sure, why not."

The underground city was stunning, and Ercan, who grew up here, was an excellent tour guide. He tour guided us for the half hour drive from Mustafapaşa to Kaymakli, through the underground city, and back to the Monastery Cave Hotel.

Ercan pointed out where he had been born and raised, his favorite haunts growing up, and the changes that have happened in this area over the course of his lifetime. He shared that, before there were stairs, he and the other kids would climb up into the caves through what I am calling shafts. He shared that for a period of time in his adult life, he was a tour guide. He shared his knowledge about the underground cities.

The story of the underground cities, I'm gathering, is ever evolving.

Warning: Rabbit hole traps ahead.

The following is one write-up I found when I fell into a rabbit hole on the web while researching about the underground cities in Cappadocia. As you will read, this writer suggested that there are "almost forty known Cappadocia underground cities." Another write up stated "there are around 200 cities in total in Cappadocia..." Ercan told us that there are at least 250 underground cities, and that they are all connected. Think about that for a moment. Miles and miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers and kilometers) of underground cities, all connected.

I added (the underlined) links (below) to the most highly visited underground cities in Cappadocia. The links were gifted from Ms. Google's good friend, Wikipedia.

Have at it if you will, my friend. Fall into that rabbit hole. If you have already done your research or are from Cappadocia and do not need to read about the underground cities in this area of the world, feel free to skip down to the picture (below this write-up).

"The Cappadocia Underground Cities, found mostly in the Nevsehir region in central Turkey, are a series of magnificent subterranean cities built by the Troglodytes or ‘cave goers’. Of the almost forty known Cappadocia underground cities, some in Nevsehir are open to the public, including Kaymaklı, Derinkuyu, Özkonak, Mazi and Ürgüp. The Cappadocia underground cities were built by early Christians during the Byzantine era who were persecuted for their faith. The city’s inhabitants used the network of caves to protect themselves from Muslim-Arabs during the Arab-Byzantine Wars between 780 and 1180. It is believed that the underground cities were initially built by the Phrygians during the 8th and 7th centuries BC. Later, during the Roman era and the replacement of the Phrygian language with Greek, the then Christian inhabitants continued work on the underground cities by adding their own cultural and religious necessities such as chapels and Greek inscriptions. The most incredible aspects of the Cappadocia underground cities are their sheer scale and complexity. Some of these cities delve eight levels underground, with comprehensive living quarters and facilities for making grape juice, cooking, drainage and plumbing and even stables for horses. Of course, these underground cities were also vital forts, protecting their citizens, and the Cappadocia made provisions for this, including sturdy doors and even holes in the ceilings through which to pour hot oil over any intruders.

Even during the 20th century, the caves allowed for people to protect themselves from persecution administered during the Ottoman Empire. It was not until 1923, after the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, that the underground cities were completely abandoned and forgotten about. In 1963, a resident discovered a strange room in a wall inside his house, thus leading to the huge underground city being rediscovered."

Ercan, me, Nicolas and Tadeo inside the underground city in Kaymakli

I took a video of the guys, and narrated as I walked into the next room of the caves. The problem was, come to find out, I did not really take the video, so... sorry, my friend... I can not show you the video I did not actually take. This next video, though a bit disjointed, is available. I titled it "take 2"...

You may have noticed, at the end of the video, that Ercan started to head down a path following a red arrow. The red arrows lead down. This next video follows where my video left off. It is Ercan's view of a passage in the underground city (taken... take 1... on his camera).

Ercan also got a video of me going through the tunnels...

I titled this next video "air vent." You may recall me saying that Ercan shared with us how he has watched Cappadocia change (through his lifetime). Before tourism, there was no signage where the underground city entrances were. It was not until into the 1960s that people began to accidentally discover the underground cities here. Fourteen years ago, the last time Ercan was in Kaymakli, there was not a paved path toward or tourist booth to enter the underground city, as there is now. Before the underground cities became a tourist attraction, local kids climbed down and up caves. That was before stairs were added. Before stairs, kids like Ercan shimmied up and down what I had called "shafts..." that, now (that I know a little more), I am calling "air vents."

Ercan, tour guides, and Ms. Google have all shared that each floor of the underground city had been allocated for different things, such as food storage, making necessary items (like wine and oil), and sleeping. While we were in one room, that had been allocated to making and storing wine (from grapes), Ercan related that when he was growing up, "we had this (set up) in our house."

Ercan shared that most of the time, people lived on the surface and used the underground cities for (mostly food) storage. When there was an enemy attack, the population moved underground for protection, safety, and defense. Ms. Google talks a lot about that too.

In some rooms there were huge round stones that had been used as protective doors. No one really knows how those huge stones were transported to the underground rooms. The Indian-family-from-Canada tried to move one. It may have been fixed to the floor. It was unmovable.

This next video shows a room with one such door.

This next video, taken by Ercan, ends in a room with a large rock "table" with dents in it. The table looks very much like one of the doors, set horizontally. Check out the video and picture (below) and then I will share with you what I have learned about this dented rock table.

One thing Ercan shared was that this rock table was used to make and store oil. He said that, with wicks, the oil was used to illuminate the dark rooms in the underground city. That was necessary, of course, before tourism... before electric lighting was added. Because the underground city is... underground, and dark.

While I was touring the Indian-family-from-Canada, I overheard a tour guide telling his tour group about this rock table. It was interesting to me that this particular tour guide's focus was on the speculations about the origin of the rock. "No one knows how the stone got here," he said. "Was it inside the cave? Was it carried inside from outside the cave? How was it moved?" He shared more speculations about how the "dents" may have been created. He shared how the dented stone may have been used for grinding herbs. He did not mention it being used to grind olives or other sources, to make oil, used for lighting.

Wikipedia describes this very same stone (pictured above) as: "a remarkable block of andesite with relief textures" that "was used for cold-forming copper."

The description states that "fifty-seven holes were carved into the stone" and that "the technique was to put copper into each of the holes (about 10 centimetres (3.9 in) in diameter) and then to hammer the ore into place." Wikipedia gives more details if you're into that. Go ahead... rabbit hole away, Baby.

On Friday, when Riaz had asked me to tour his family through the underground city (that I had been to once), I did not, by any means, feel adequate or confident enough to do it. My reality, though, did not stop their reality from happening. On Saturday, we drove (in their rental van) to Kaymakli, and I toured them through the underground city that I had been to (once). I used Riaz's phone camera to video his family through the tunnels.

Their family moved more slowly through the tunnels than the young, fit Argentinians, Ercan, and I had (the prior week). This second time at Kaymakli, there were a lot more people jamming up the tunnels. I can not show you the videos I took on Riaz's phone. Even if I had them, I don't think I would share them with you. In the videos you would have heard the voice of a tour guide behind me repeating "move, Lady, move." Visually, there were a lot of long, still, butt shots.

Speaking of that area of our anatomy... I found it funny that one-by-one, each person in our little Indian-Canadian group asked me, "Where did people pee and poop?" Actually, Imran did not ask this question. To be precisely honest, 3 out of 4 Indians-from-Canada were curious about the history of underground city toileting.

I did not know the answer to their question. I asked another group's tour guide. The tour guide thought this was a very good question. No one in his group had asked it. The tour guide shared that, when biological needs called, people hiding in the underground city used clay pots. Back in the day, you would do your business in a clay pot, cover it with limestone (which would kill the bacteria), and when it was safe, bring it to the surface, where the composted material would become fertilizer. That last bit of information came from Ercan.

After our little group returned to the Monastery Hotel, Ercan asked how it went. I shared that the most popular question asked was about underground city toileting.

Ercan had not talked about underground city toileting with the Argentinians and me the week before, because none of us thought to ask about that. Why, I am now wondering, are more people not curious about this? Why, I have wondered in the past, is toileting not a topic of conversation in the same way that eating is? Why, for example, do people in Turkey not teach foreigners how to use a Turkish toilet? Why, for example, do we never see someone sitting on the can in movies? I'm pretty darn sure Tarzan et al had biological needs.

Ercan had not talked about toileting in the underground city, but he knew the tour guide's answer and then some. It was an intriguing discussion.

Now I'm wondering if this history of having to navigate toileting into a clay pot and then using the composted material for fertilizer influenced the modern culture of Turkish toileting. There's squatting over a hole. And there's water. Simple. Natural. Back to the earth. All this talk has me wanting to take a bio break. Let's take five.

Chapter 4: The Indian Food Feast

Everyone went on the Saturday trip to the underground city in Kaymakli - me, Riaz, Salima, Imran, Mr. Ali Merchant... everyone, except for mother Mary.

You may recall that, on Friday, Mary had told me that, while traveling, she missed cooking... Indian food. Indian food... my favorite food. When I heard her lament, I said, "I will ask Ercan if you can use the cafe kitchen. Tomorrow if you would like."

I immediately texted Ercan. At the time of texting, I do not think Mary had answered me. I think the phrase "Indian food" had shut down my executive faculties and I was operating from lizard brain, survival, reactivity... me-want-Indian-food mode. By the time I received Ercan's answer ("Yes." Thank the Powers that be, he said "Yes."), Mary had said: "oh please, yes. I would appreciate that." I was very happy that she was very happy. We were both very happy when Ercan texted his answer back. I believe that it was at that point that I was catapulted into a state of ecstasy.

After that, on Friday, the Indian-family-from-Canada went shopping for groceries to cook Saturday's Indian food dinner. On Saturday, Mary did not go to Kaymakli.

By the end of our two days together, I think we were all in English-speaking, Indian-eating heaven. I certainly was in English-speaking, Indian-eating heaven. For me, it started on Friday, before knowing them as I would, before partaking of the Indian food feast to come. I have been in Indian-eating heaven even since the Indian-family-from-Canada left, on Sunday. Because they left me the leftovers.

After touring the underground city in Kaymakli, the family and I decided we should go to the Saturday open-air market in Ürgüp (that I also went to the Saturday before, with Süreyya).

Near closing at the market in Ürgüp the week before.

At this week's (more crowded) Saturday market, my new friends, the Indian-family-from-Canada purchased (even) more groceries for the Indian dinner.

At this week's Saturday market I (finally) found the grilled green olives I have been looking and longing for. Ima take a moment here. Olives, you've made me so very happy. I'm so glad you came into my life.

At this Saturday market, I also saw the largest cabbages I have ever seen. If babies come from a cabbage patch, these cabbages will give birth to quintuplets.

Although on Friday, the Indian-family-from-Canada had purchased chicken for our Saturday night Indian dinner, Mr. Ali Merchant bought fresh salmon at the Saturday market. He thought it would be a good item to add to (what I am now calling) our feast. Salmon is my favorite food. I was very happy about Ali's way of thinking. I couldn't agree more that, no matter what had been planned, curried salmon would be a fine addition. As I spent more and more time around Mr. Ali Merchant, I understood more and more deeply why everyone loves this man.

On Saturday night we feasted. Curried chicken... curried salmon... curried eggplant, potatoes and peas... raita... cucumber and tomato salad. I made an arugula and mint salad. It was a major feast. Dude. I'm shaking my head with ecstatic disbelief just typing this.

Chapter 5: Giving Tuesday

During dinner prep on Saturday, Ali received news that his five-year-old grandson (back in Toronto) had been hospitalized and was gravely ill.

This grandson had been born with major health issues, and, Mary said, this was not the first time he had been gravely ill. Later that night, after Riaz and Imran had left to bring Ali to the airport, after Mary, Salima, and I had finished cooking and setting aside the prepared food, after we three women rested and came back together to talk, Mary and I would share that we both experienced a knowing, that, this time, Ali's grandchild would not survive.

Riaz and Imran drove Ali an hour to the airport so that he could fly home to be with his son and grandson. By the time they arrived at the airport, Ali received news that his grandson had died. The family (in Toronto) told him they would wait for his arrival back home (in Toronto). While they waited, they would begin to plan the funeral for Tuesday.

In the states there's something called "Giving Tuesday." After the overeating on Thanksgiving Thursday, and the overspending the next day, on Black Friday (when everything everywhere is on sale), there's an opportunity for redemption. It's called: Giving Tuesday. In the states, Giving Tuesday is when both non-profit and for-profit organizations ask for your support by means of a generous donation of money.

In Mr. Ali Merchant's case, Giving Tuesday would have a deeper connotation. This Giving Tuesday would not be about coming together to give back money. On this Tuesday, Mr. Ali Merchant's family would be coming together to give back their child.

This may be a good time for a break. It is meaningful and healthy to allow time to feel emotions. Maybe you are wanting to help create and hold a container for Mr. Ali Merchant and his family, as they step into this initial raw period of grieving. Maybe this story is bringing up images of murdered children caught in the middle of a war between Israel and Gaza. Maybe you have experienced what it feels like to release a child to the afterlife. Maybe you are feeling the need to cry. I will join you.

Chapter 7: Leaving and Left-overs

At the hotel-cafe, after the food was prepared and set aside, after Salima and her mother Mary retired to their bedroom and I to mine, to rest, after I went to their room, I learned of Ali's grandson's passage. Salima, Mary, and I felt into Mr. Ali Merchant's grief. We felt into the parents whose child just died. We felt into the passage of the five-year-old who just passed from one realm to another. We prayed. We talked about death. We talked about spirit, religion, beliefs, and energetic/intuitive knowing.

Mary shared that she had been a spiritual seeker, is now a practicing Muslim, and had done Reiki. She told me that her first husband had died young from a heart attack, and that her daughter (Salima) was age ten at the time. Mary told me about her second (arranged) marriage (with an older man who had adopted Salima). Mary shared that she came to love her second husband, and that he had also died, four years ago.

When Mary shared that she felt fortunate to have loved two men, I thought of my Uncle Milt. Uncle Milt had shared that same sentiment when commemorating his wedding anniversary with Sandy. Uncle Milt had been married to my Aunt Ginny, who died young, in her 30s. Uncle Milt's second wife, Sandy, had been sitting beside him at this celebratory brunch, raising a glass of champagne to his good fortune. I was forever impressed by that generosity of the heart. I was impressed by Mary's sense of gratitude.

Mary told me about when, four years after the death of her (first) husband, a friend of hers had gone into a trance and channeled three pieces of information (for Mary). Mary told me that two of the items came true that summer.

The friend channeled that Mary would marry, but not the man she was currently engaged to marry. The friend also channeled that Mary would have three children. At the time, Mary fully believed she would marry the man she was with. She had a 10-year-old, was in her forties, and did not plan to have more children. At the time, Mary thought the friend's premonition was bunk.

Not knowing about the premonition, Mary's fiancée called her and disclosed that he did not want to raise Mary's 10-year-old. This was a deal breaker for Mary, and she broke off the engagement. Mary's family set up a potential arranged marriage. Mary met the (much older) man. They both disclosed their bottom lines. They both agreed to marry. Mary married her second husband (who adopted 10-year-old Salima). Mary's new (older) husband had two grown children. Within two months of the premonition, Mary was married and had three children.

Mary told me that she had shared this same story with her landlord, Mr. Ali Merchant. She had told him that she was waiting for the third premonition to come to fruition. When she disclosed that the third item was that she'd meet a camel, Mr. Merchant told Mary that, growing up, he had been called "camel," because he was tall and lanky and looked like a camel.

We told each other many things. I had told these new friends that my daughter had died.

At one point, I said, "They're here." I was referring to Riaz and Imran (who had been driving Mr. Ali Merchant to the airport). I said, "We can go now (to the kitchen, to eat)." A moment later, Imran knocked on the bedroom door.

On the walk from their Cave Hotel bedroom to the cafe kitchen, Salima asked me, "How did you know?" I said, "I do not know how I knew. I just did." Mary said, "It is because your daughter died and you are close to God. That is how you knew." I told Mary that I have been like this since I was a child.

I am resolute that I do not know the why or how energy or spirit works. It seems to me, though, that communal energy opens the door wider to what is happening in the energetic realm. Maybe that is how Mary and I both had known that Ali's grandson would leave his body just before he did. Maybe that is how I had known that Riaz and Imran had just arrived at the Monastery Cave Hotel.

Riaz, Imran, Salima, Mary and I joined together in a toast to Ali's grandson moving into spirit. Ercan and others around the cafe joined us. We all feasted.

from the far left: Riaz, Imran, a French couple who joined us, Ercan (waving in the back, center), the doctor, Salima, and Mary

My new friends, the Indian-family-from-Canada left for the Black Sea at 05:30 (5:30 am) on Sunday. Many tourists stay at the Monastery Cave Hotel for only a few days. My 28-day stay here is unusual. My English-speaking Indian-Canadian friends left and I would miss them. The consolation, though, was that I was left with the Indian food feast leftovers.

Chapter 8: Looking for a Sign

When I awoke on Sunday (not at 05:30), I was determined to take a long walk with my phone camera fully charged, so I could take a picture of the sign.

You may recall that this post began (after the disclaimer/love letter to you and Cappadocia) with: "my camera battery was dead when I saw the welcome sign to the Monastery of St. Nicholas." You may recall that I had planned to take a picture of that sign. You may recall that: "There have been reasons why I did not bring you back with me, up the hill, until Sunday."

I have told you, in a long-winded ramble, some of the reasons why it took me so long to take that picture. There is a lot of time and changing weather and wind in this story.

I wanted to get in a walk before it rained. My weather app for Nevşehir showed 100% chance of rain. It was due to start soon.

I wanted to head right up the hill, but was invited to sit at the cafe with Ercan, the doctor, and another man I had met named Onur (meaning "honor"). You may recall that I find it very challenging to say "no" to persuasive Turkish men. I sat down.

from left: the doctor, me, Ercan, and Onur

Onur said: "I am leaving today." They all leave.

I think my disappointment and sadness was obvious. He agreed to walk with me up the hill.

During our walk up the hill, Onur and I talked. I learned that his work and family are in Istanbul, that he prays to God to help him make good decisions - especially when he is at a crossroad - and that he has recently been at a crossroad. As we talked, I sensed that he has been in a state of mild anxious impatience while waiting to hear back from God.

This was not small talk. This was heart-and-soul talk. This was my kind of talk.

You may recall that I said I usually do not enjoy small talk. I had shared with you (earlier) that it had been unusual that, when I first met my new friends the Indian-family-from-Canada, I immensely enjoyed our small talk. You may recall that the reason for that was because I was starved for conversation in English. I have discovered that conversations with Turkish-speaking folks can be challenging to the point of exhaustion. I have found the language barrier to be another reason why I might retreat and isolate to my cave bed room.

The conversation I was having with Onur did not feel challenging. Having had my fill of English (and Indian food), even with our language barrier, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of our time together.

On the way up the hill, for some reason, I could not spot the sign. We kept walking. We walked all the way beyond the monastery. I asked Onur to take a picture of me standing near the base of what I am calling the one-toothed rock-God fairy-chimney.

Just before Onur clicked the picture, a fierce wind grabbed my hat off my head, and flung it up into a tree. In the picture (above) my hat is in the tree to the right. After our photo shoot, Onur and I had a little adventure retrieving my hat. I am very happy to report that we did retrieve my sparkly pink cap. I am wearing it now (smile).

We walked across the road to what I have titled: "the stairs-to-up-high." These stairs lead to a cave at the top. While we walked up the stairs, it was so windy, Onur and I kept reaching out for each other. At the top, when Onur wanted to take my picture, he held his camera with one hand and held onto me with the other, like I was a kite. We were basically wobbling atop a steep cliff. It was scary-exciting, crazy windy.

I did not want to use my phone camera to take pictures or videos while on this long walk. I did not want my phone battery to die before seeing and photo shooting "the sign." So Onur took photos and videos.

Besides the few pictures Onur sent me, whatever he recorded is on his phone. Not mine. I do not have the videos from that walk.

What I do have are the following pictures and videos that I had taken on my first solo exploration of this area. I had pretty much retraced my steps with Riaz and Imran (on Friday). Onur and I pretty much retraced my steps (again) on Sunday. I'm hoping it is ok with you that I am mixing up which photos were taken on which days. Days (and night and day) are pretty mixed up here, so it is not so odd to do this.

the Stairs-to-Up-High
pretty little purple flowers along the stairs (to up high)
Taking a breather on the stairs (to up high)
another breather, another view, another amazing picture (of fairy chimneys), on the stairs (to up high)

And then... I found a cave...

Onur took this photo (below) of me sitting in the "window" in the cave...

Wait a second. Did I say "I begin my ascent?!" I must have been oxygen deprived.

If you're getting bored watching videos or need a breather from all the climbing, this next video offers a moment of adolescent humor. I know this is ass-backwards but... check out the butt in the crack...

Shout out: to Ash (in this next video)...

And this is where I took the picture I shared with you at the very beginning of this blog...

Ercan shared with me that the "fairy chimneys" that have the dark (basalt) top will endure the winds of time. Without the hard basalt covering the pillars of soft volcanic land masses, the pillars wear down. "That is why," he said, "you can see where they are flat." This next picture (below) shows how people are building onto a "flattened" chimney.

It must me bizarre and phenomenal to have grown up in Cappadocia, to witness the magical topography change so drastically.

Disclaimer: Everything I share with you that I heard from Turkish-speaking people may be a bunch of bull, because I may very well have misunderstood what they said. It is not their fault. Ercan et al most likely gave me accurate information that I botched in the retelling. It's a game of Turkish-English telephone. I'm sorry.

across from the monastery

After leaving the area "up high," Onur and I retraced my steps to another "building" (located between the stairs-to-up-high and the monastery). Again, these photos and videos (below) are from a previous, solo hike. I titled this group of pics and videos "saint someone's place" (1-6).


When I took the first picture ("saint someone's place. 1") (above) I had just thought to bring you into my present experience. When I finished walking the stairs down to the road, I made the decision to do it all again so we could have a shared experience. So, though the next video (below) may come across as a bit backward, the order is authentic to what happened.

Aren't you glad there's some authenticity in my presentation of pictures, somewhere in this post?!

Disclaimer: The intention of this blog is for us to be together. I realize my experience already happened, and that the days are mixed up. I realize that your experience is happening now. I'm sorry about the lag in our communication. It feels a bit like a bad live-video connection, doesn't it?


I really like the next picture (below). There's a lot going on here. There's that big nose hanging above the stairs... where I bashed my head the first time going up.



On the way back down, I took time to linger my sights on a structure I had found very intriguing (picture below). It kind of looks like a one-toothed rock-God, doesn't it? This is where I asked Onur to take a picture of me and lost my hat to the wind and tree (for a moment). I'm really glad the rock God let me have my sparkly pink cap back.


And then I zoomed in on another structure I'd been checking out earlier (picture below). Dude, check out the "doors" and tiny "windows." How the heck did that happen? The (darker) "chimney" (at the top) is basalt that landed on top of softer rock. These structures are scattered all over Cappadocia. They are literally called and known as "fairy chimneys."


Chapter 9: Finding a Sign (The Final Chapter... of this blog)

I think that Cappadocia is magic. I think that every day life is magic.

Just as Mary had been given pieces of information (premonitions, that came true), I have given you pieces of information leading up to the final chapter of this blog post.

You may remember that, on Friday, when I was on a walk up the hill with Riaz and Imran, I had forgotten that I wanted a picture of the sign. That was one reason I didn't take a picture of the sign (until Sunday). You may recall that there was a second reason why I didn't take a picture of the sign (on that Friday). You may recall that for days, the weather had been wintery cold and wildly windy. You may recall that I had not been out of my cave for days (before Friday).

On this day, Sunday, while walking with Onur, I was looking for a sign. I was determined not to forget, to keep my phone battery charged, and to take that picture. I had told Onur that (like him) I was looking for a sign (though he was seeking a sign from God, and I sought the welcome sign to the Monastery of St. Nicholas).

At first, (like Onur), I could not find the sign. After we had lost and found my sparkly pink cap, after we had climbed the stairs-to-up-high, after we had visited saint-someone's-place, we headed back toward the hotel-cafe. I (like Onur) wondered if I would ever find what I had been looking for.

On the way down the hill, I spotted a large rectangle of sheet metal with broken metal legs sticking out of it, camouflaged on the ground. I stopped and stood still, looking at the sheet of metal, and said: "That is the sign!"

I do not know when the fierce wind had knocked the sign down. It could have been before Friday's walk. It could be that I had not seen the sign on Friday because the wild wind had knocked it upside-down and it was camouflaged on the ground.

Onur kicked the sheet metal over and sure enough, there was the sign we had been looking for.

And so, my friend, I give you... the sign.

Some signs take time to appear. I hope this has been worth the wait.

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Melody Pine
Melody Pine

Love reading about your adventures!! So awesome! We didn’t get to go to Cappadocia last time… hopefully next time!😘😘


Thank you so much for taking me to your trip. What a wonderful gesture and work, Ami! So informative and educational. You are the best!

Ami Ji Schmid
Ami Ji Schmid

I'm so glad you're here with me, Geny :-)

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