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Takin' a Walk in Cappadocia: Part One

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

"I'm going for a walk" in my neighborhood of Cappadocia might mean: "I am going on a little stroll (around this very little downtown area) in Mustafapaşa."


On this walk, I may go (again) to look at the variety of wool capes hanging from rafters outside a little shop with a sign that reads: €5 each. At this point, five euros is the equivalent to less than $5.50. I thought you should know this. In case you visit Cappadocia. In case you want to bring an empty suitcase.


It is most likely that when I go for this walk, the old man with squinty eyes who is the owner of the little shop will (again) say: "Come, shop. You like, you buy. You don't like, you don't buy." He will again tell me: "This building is Greek," and I'll hear the history of his home and shop. "Come," he will say (again), "drink tea on the terrace." I will (again) say, "Teşekkürler, no. I will keep walking." He will (again) guide me into the shop to look at more wares. Turkish men, I am learning, can be very persuasive.


At this "little" shop, there are not only wool capes for five euros each. There are also Turkish rugs, runners, pillow covers, bedspreads, and tablecloths of all sizes, with designs and pictures - many of cats. There are backpacks and bags. There are Turkish clothes, Indian clothes, and Tibetan clothes. There are modern, sparkly harem pants and very old-looking hand-made traditional belly-dancing costumes. There are handmade beaded earrings and touristy socks and magnets a plenty that say "Cappadocia."


At this shop, I will most likely (again) leave without making a purchase. I did not bring an empty suitcase. And though I could, I will not purchase an empty suitcase to fill. Because, as you may recall, I already have too much too heavy baggage to carry around airports and up stairs to Airbnb's. I have more than enough stuff.


But you who may travel here, bring that empty suitcase. Bring two. (I feel a bit like a persuasive Turkish man right now).


There are three shops in this very little downtown area like the one owned by the squinty-eyed old shop owner. The squinty-eyed old shop owner's shop is directly next to another shop, just like his. I'm not sure why people here have organized their shops in this way, side-by-side, selling exactly the same wares. There is probably a good and logical reason for this. I may learn the good and logical reason later. If I do, I'll tell you what I've learned. I promise.


For now, I just want you to know that these three "little" shops are in just one of many little downtown areas in other little towns in Cappadocia. Then there's the rest of Turkey. Then there are the huge, metropolitan Turkish cities, such as Istanbul. Yeah. When you travel in Turkey, bring a lot of empty luggage.


In this very little downtown area where I currently call home, there are a few rustic outdoor cafes, a pharmacy, and two very small grocery shops. When I go on this walk, it is what I would call "a short walk."


One day, during a short walk, when I had to pee, I walked up a little side street path and found a private little cave to squat in. It was not my best idea.


NOTE: Pee, on hard dry dusty dirt ground, splatters.


I wanted to walk directly home. I've become accustomed to a thorough cleaning after toileting experiences.


NOTE: For those of you who are reading my travel blog for the first time, this reference is to a prior post about toilets in Turkey. You may want to read that post. It made Monika laugh. It may have made her pee. I feel badly for her now, just thinking about that. Because she is an American, with an American toilet. If she laughed so hard she peed, I can assure you she did not have a Turkish bathroom experience.


My uncleanliness must not have been noticeable (or smelly) (enough) to keep people away. Because, walking back out from the little side street path to the edge of the road, directly across the street from me was "Mr. So-and-So who fixes things here," and he waved me over.


NOTE: For you who are reading this travel blog for the first time, "Mr. So-and-So..." is a reference to a prior blog. You may want to read that one too. Just to catch up.


Mr. So-and-So was smoking a cigarette. (Smoking cigarettes is so not unusual here in Turkey). He was standing next to the outdoor patio area where there were men sitting at small tables playing backgammon and other such games that men in Turkey play. He was standing directly in front of what I learned was the Mustafapaşa main campus of Cappadocia University.


When he saw me, Mr. So-and-So roped me into a tour of the University, right then. Mr. So-and-So is a persuasive man. He speaks only Turkish - no English. Still, I cannot seem to say "No" to him. Even without a way to communicate, his message is firm. What is with Turkish men being so persuasive?!


I had heard about this University because the students who frequent the hotel-cafe attend it. They have told me their majors: "defense... electrical engineering... mechanical engineering..." I learned that one needs a university degree majoring in "cabin crew training" to become an airline steward or stewardess. One young man told me he was studying culinary arts. All majors at this University are within the field of aviation.


I am having am epiphany here. People go to University to study food to serve on planes. That is why the food on Turkish Airlines is so good. It is SO good.


At this University, there is even a hot air balloon aviation study. Hot air balloons are a big deal in Cappadocia. They're huge, on multiple levels. You may recall that Süreyya is a hot air balloon aviator. I'm hoping to go up in a balloon with her soon, maybe tomorrow. It depends on weather. More shall be revealed. In the meantime... let's return to the story currently unfolding.


Mr. So-and-So toured me through the marble-floored corridors to classrooms where I got to peek in and wave to University students standing around large tables doing measurements. They were all friendly and happy to wave back.


Mr. So-and-So brought me to the hanger.

Mr. So-and-So took my camera and waved me to different spots around the ancient aircraft and took photos of me.

You may notice, in the above picture of me petting the plane, that on my feet I am wearing my very supportive (yet smooth-bottomed) flip-flops. You may recall me saying the corridor floors of the University were marble. You may want to know (because it fits into a soon-to-be-revealed part of the story) that, after our Ami-caressing-the-aircraft-at-different-angles photo shoot, my smooth-bottomed shoes and I slipped and fell on the slippery marble floors.


When this happened, Mr. So-and-So was obviously in distress. I don't know Turkish, but I heard the word "doctor" as he tried to persuade me off the floor. Students in the classroom that I had just left came out to the marble-floored corridor. Others walking by came over. I was aware they were all concerned. Part of me wanted to alleviate their concern, to stand up as they were trying to get me to do, and follow them to where they wanted me to go.

What I knew inside, though, was that I needed to sit on the floor for a while with my healing hand on my right knee.


I typed a message into my phone's Google translator. It read: "I will sit here and put healing energy into my knee." I held my phone in one hand and propped up in such a way that anyone there or walking by could read it. Then I tuned in. I sat on the marble floor, sending healing energy into my right knee, for quite some time. I remained on the marble floor, hand on knee, until I felt ok, and then I got up.


Mr. So-and-So guided me down the corridor, out the door, around the corner, and downstairs to another section of the University. I thought he was still touring me. He was not. He was bringing me to the doctor.


The doctor, it turned out, was "Mr. So-and-So who is the doctor here." I learned that "Mr. So-and-So the doctor" is the doctor for the University, the town, and the cafe. He is the doctor "here." It's just him. He is the doctor. And Mr. So-and-So who was my University tour guide, he fixes things... at the University, in the town, and at the cafe. He is the fix-it guy "here." It's just him. He is the fix-it guy. It is a very small village.


I used the Google translator app on my phone to let the doctor know that I did energy healing and was ok. He knew I did healing work, because he'd been at the hotel-cafe many a night while I did healings around the fire. I think he was impressed or proud of me. When Mr. So-and-So-the-fix-it-guy wanted Mr. So-and-So-the-doctor to ask me if I wanted pain-killers, and I said "Teşekkürler, no," the doctor smiled, nodded, and shook my hand. "Good," he said.


Falling on my knee on marble took some time to fully heal. I tuned-in to my body's message. "Rest," was what it said. So rest is what I did. When I felt fully healed, I went for a walk. A different kind of walk. Not a short walk. I went on what I am calling "a long walk." A long walk is not a "walk-about." It's not that long. A long walk, though, is significantly longer than "a short walk."


"I'm going for a (long) walk" in Cappadocia might mean hiking up the steepest of paths and steps to view the rarest topography I have ever seen. When I go for a long walk in my neighborhood, both aspects (the steep climb and the phenomenally bizarre views) continue to take my breath away.


So far, I have taken two long walks up the exact same hill behind my hotel-cafe-home. I may be beginning to understand why two of the exact same shops can exist side-by-side.


You can find plenty of amazing online footage of the magical land here in Cappadocia. Here is some of my humble footage from my first long walk up the hill...

One of the first things that I found stunning was the two-tones of colored rock.
...and how lava, water, and wind combined to form this land.
Does this not look like a fairy-gnome village?
The dinosaur fingers (that's what I'm calling them) that extend down to the ground from the mountain peak remind me of the topography of Kauai, Hawaii. That thought reminds me that, as in Hawaii, this land was formed by lava.
Don't let my poor photographic skills fool you. These paths are STEEP.
I have learned that the little ball of berries hanging from this tree is food for the tree.
Berries for the tree... not for human or other animal consumption. Just nourishment for Mama-Tree.

And just a little further up the path, there were what I am calling "scarecrow" trees...


Raisins. I later learned that what I tasted, most likely, was a grape, dried on the tree to become a raisin.


Just an aside... Ercan told me I had to taste a popular syrup called Pekmez. It's made by boiling down grapes. Pekmez is often mixed with sesame tahini (called tahin here) or yogurt, in a similar way to how I mix honey and tahini and add that mixture to yogurt. I tasted the pekmez. Oh My Goddess. I really wish I could type in flavor here so you could taste pekmez right now.


I can not type flavor into this post. I'm sorry, for all of us. For now, I'll bring you back to my pictures chronicling a long walk that I took up the hill.


At one point, I decided the path did not lead to the top, where I'd set my destination point, so I turned around to head back. I really wanted to go up to that pinnacle. So... I tried to climb, on the hill, off the beaten path. I did pretty well, until I looked down and thought "WTF am I doing?!"

On the way up, I had tried being careful not to disturb the land, though it was difficult, without a path, not to step on plants and displace soil and rocks. There was wild mountain sage that let off a lovely, fresh, savory odor every time I stepped on it. I could tell there was sage on the hill before I saw it. It really smelled lovely. If I could, I'd type that smell right here for you.

Once, I made contact with a very protective plant. Even though I barely touched it, the little guy (below) made me scream. I squatted down to take a picture. It's a small ground plant, like the mountain sage, but... check out those (stiff) spikes!

Walking back down the path, the fairy village beckoned, so I headed toward it...

... passing by this drunken hang-out...

... and this white horse...

... until finding the fairy village, that turned out to be a monastery...

Behind the monastery was this "fairy chimney" turned into rock tombs that I had to explore...

At the risk of coming across as rude, or worse, as performing an act of sacrilege just by saying this... what does that main door (on the right) look like to you? To me it looks very much like... well... I'll put it this way...


When naming pictures that are stored in my computer's picture file labeled "Travel in Cappadocia" this (following) video is called: "walking through penis door."


Before you judge me too harshly, it is possible that bored, lonely, overworked Catholic guys from the Byzantine period, working on the monastery, were like: "Dudes, let's make the door look like a penis..." I like to imagine hard-laborers laughing their asses off.

Less controversially named, this video (below) is called: "other door."

...that led to the back of this fairy chimney...

...and a view of the back of the fairy-gnome-village cathedral...

While walking these paths, I foraged sage and what smelled like eucalyptus...

...that I am drying in my cave room and will burn. I imagine (especially noting the black areas inside caves) that many have done this.


There were so many nooks and crannies to explore and so many reasons to come back later to the same spot...


And reasons not to explore some spots twice...

It is easy to take stunning photos here, even for those of us who are ordinarily photographically challenged. Here (below) is the last picture from this walk. It is a structure directly across from the monastery gate.

There were many, many more pictures I wanted to take, but my phone charge died. So... home to charge my phone and hang out by the fire at the hotel-cafe I walked. There would be another "long walk" another day.


Stay tuned for some of my favorite pictures, from the second time I explored this same area (a little further up, behind the cathedral), and from an exploration of the Underground City in Kaymakli. Look for "Part Two" of "Takin' a Walk in Cappadocia."

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