Visiting Cappadocia to see a different face
WILCO VAN HERPEN
‘Cappadocia is a mystic place where you have to walk in order to feel this mysticism.’Last weekend I was in Cappadocia and again the place managed to come up with many surprises.
When I am away from Cappadocia, I always think: “why would people visit Cappadocia more than three times?” but then, when I am there again I fully understand why people become addicted to Cappadocia. It is a magical place and… every time you will be (pleasantly) surprised by something you haven’t seen before or did not know before.
Together with Ahmet Özyurt, I travelled around for my program and it was, in a way, an unfair competition. Ahmet has been working for more than ten years in Cappadocia, and for me this was the first time to be next to the master of photography. Whatever picture I have taken there, he has already taken it better.
We were to meet in the Kılıçlar Valley (valley of the swords), a valley not known by many tourists. While walking to the place where I would meet Ahmet there were too many things to see. Normally it would have taken me half an hour to meet him, but here, with another mind blowing view around every other corner, it took me one and a half hours before I finally met him. Actually, I went a bit too early to Cappadocia; it would have been better if I would have gone the second week of April, because then there would be a wide range of flowers covering the fertile soil of Cappadocia, while all the fruit trees would be covered with blossoms. But the early signs of spring were there already. Cappadocia, since it is much colder than Istanbul during this time of the year, wakes up much later. Everywhere on the hills little almond trees showed their beautiful pink blossom. This fragile pink blossom, and on the back ground the historical and characteristic fairy chimneys, is definitely something I can recommend to you to see. A small problem during this time of the year is that the weather is rather unpredictable. Take a raincoat with you because within a period of one hour the weather can change from a burning sunny afternoon into an almost evening like dark clouded sky where rain is pouring. Besides that,
get a good sweater or nice warm thermo underwear because there is a huge difference between the places that catch the sunlight and the shady places; it can
be as much as a 10 or 15 degrees difference.
Finally I arrived at the place where we were to meet. It was a basic café kind of place and one of the rare places in the valley where they also have a toilet… I took a glass of orange/pomegranate juice and sat down with Ahmet. He told me about a project he had finished here together with some friends. At several places near Çavuşin, Göreme he had created some nice hiking trails. Together with a map and signs put up all over the valleys, it makes walking around and (very important) finding your way back to the “civilized” world much easier. On
your way through all those valleys you can see beautiful churches, tunnels, old irrigation systems and of course nature, impressive nature…
We started to walk around in the Kılıçlar valley where Ahmet had prepared one of those hiking routes.
Unfortunately, most of the signs he put on were already partly damaged. An explanation about what you could see at that specific point was gone. All that remained was a big piece of rock with the distance and which way to walk. Ahmet was a bit down, but then his positivism took over again. One story after another, it just did not stop. This guy was definitely in love with Cappadocia. It was in front of a man-made tunnel that he told me an anecdote. One day, he was walking around with his wife and very young child when suddenly the weather turned ugly. It was a blizzard with so much rain that the road on which they were walking turned into a river. When they reached the tunnel, continuing was impossible, the power of the streaming water could easily sweep them off their feet. They had to wait for a couple of hours before they could continue. Even for such an experienced man as Ahmet, every now and then Cappadocia has some interesting surprises.
But the best memory Ahmet has about Cappadocia is when he finds a place that he likes. Not happy with the light at that moment he takes his sleeping bag and some food with him and spends sometimes as much as 3 or 4 days at the same place. He fantasizes about how life was then, tries to find explanations for the things he sees in the caves. If he does not find an explanation he contacts an archeologist friend, but overall he has one point of criticism; not enough research is being done here in Cappadocia. Once Ahmet sees the light in combination with the landscape and the situation is as how he pre-visualized, it he starts taking his pictures. I saw some of his pictures and they are stunning indeed.
The beauty of Cappadocia is that you do not have to go far away to be able to escape
from tourists. Even while following one of the routes that Ahmet had set up, I did not meet many tourists. Cappadocia is big, very big and most tourists visit the same places. Especially when you go with an organized tour you will see some of the “highlights” of Cappadocia, but it does not show you anything of the real Cappadocia.
A mystic place
Cappadocia is a mystic place where you have to walk in order to feel this mysticism. Walk like the people did thousands of years ago, walk and smell the air. Hear the birds and feel the heat. This is how those people used to live, this is what they experienced. There is just one big difference: with all our technology, we would not last for more than one day out there, while the people who lived there knew where and how to find water and food. The people who lived here knew much more than us; they felt the energy that we need to feed us. Therefore, there are so many churches in Cappadocia. It is not only that because of the perfect conditions to make a church or cave in one of those fairy chimneys that they chose this place, for those people the energy of Cappadocia might have been the most important reason to settle down here.
If you decide to go to Cappadocia I can advise you just one thing: take your time, you are on a holiday. Go and find an old church or cave and enter it. Sit down for one or two hours and just look at the landscape.
This is such a peaceful place where you can recharge your battery. The very hectic time we are living in now and the things that we experience needs to be put aside
every now and then. If you do not do that, it will destroy you. Here in this valley near Avanos I found my inner peace again. k HDN