Day 3

June 26, 2003
Ortahisar
Near midnight.

Very sleepy, but just got a phone call from Mark! So odd and wonderful to hear his voice. No broken bones. He just wanted to see if the number worked. They are off to Clarion for the weekend.

A full day, beginning with the balloon appearing again at dawn. This morning I knew what it was and reached for the video camera. Saw lots of specks on the camera’s lens, and so cleaned it afterwards, but the balloon was almost on top of us as it went up - it must take off right behind Barbara’s house.

Hot and bright. Late morning met at Hatice’s and the taxi came to take us for the day. (The same kind driver who drove us last summer, I think.) First along the road between Urgup and Avanos to see the volcanic rock formations - the one that looks like a camel, the one that looks like a fish, the others that look like… other things. I made a panorama. Not bad.

From there to Saruhan, a Selçuk han, the restored 13th century caravansarai just outside Avanos. Golden stone and proportions that felt both gracious and severe. Inside, a barrel-vaulted gallery arcade along one wall, and an octagonal fountain splashing in the middle. At the far end was another door to a set of arched passageways around a great central pillared space. Dark, cool, the Dervishes sometimes dance there now. Sufi flute music coming softly from speakers on the ground near the doorway set the right mood of contemplation and distance. We walked and wondered, and climbed the steep stone staircase to the roof and looked out over the courtyard, the fountain, the tower, and the landscape beyond. I thought of travelers on the Silk Road, stopping to rest between Kayseri and Aksaray.

Then to Avanos, where Jen and Ellen tried throwing with the kick wheel at the pottery shop, and they bought some vases and clay pots. I used Jen’s camera to make video of her attempts with the wheel, and also to get across the feeling of that shop. The space was cool and dimly lit, with curving walls lined with shelves, and more pots suspended from the ceiling. So many stacked pots, vases, pitchers, baking casseroles on the shelves. Some ancient and traditional shapes, some modern. Some shlock, some spectacular. The room is arched and is carved out of stone. Another barrel vault. Further back and down it gets more cavelike, making the name (Chez Ali Baba) seem appropriate.

From Avanos to Zelve. Hot hot hot. And bright. Could see nothing from my camera’s LCD, and the parallax error through the viewfinder is so great that I was flying blind. Result? Panoramas with too much of the skyline cut off. If I’m ever to do this very seriously, I will need a camera with a wider angle lens, and a multi-row tripod jig. But I tried. And I had my laptop with me, so as the camera’s memory stick filled up, I could empty it into the computer, sitting down wherever I was in the valley and watching butterflies in the flowers while the files transferred. (I felt a little like Ferdinand the Bull, sitting in the long grass while intrepid Jen and Ellen climbed around inside pitch dark and vertical stone chimneys and passageways, calling to Hatice, and me, and each other from different window openings high up in the stone walls.) I made four panorama attempts in Zelve. The last one is the most promising, but will also be the most challenging to work with. Unhappy with my lack of skyline, I tilted the camera back about 40 degrees. (Can you say keystone effect?) I’ll have to work on each of the images to fix the distortion, and then piece it together in Photoshop before bringing it into my panorama software.

But I also took a lot of photos besides the panoramas, so even if the panoramas aren’t as successful as I’d dreamed, I have a lot to work with.

We were very very hot and tired and thirsty at that point, so we bought water and then stopped at a restaurant outside Goreme for lunch. Pide - the long thin Turkish pizza. What looked like an impossibly large helping, but I’d had nothing since a few crackers and tea for breakfast, and I was hungrier than I thought. Also drank a glass of mineral water and a can of seven-up. (And was still aware of needing more water.)

In Goreme we found a souvenir shop where Jen bought all her remaining presents, and I found a little something for Benjamin and Thomas. (Also two pillow covers for myself.) The shopkeeper and his brother both spoke good English, and charmed Jen into getting a number of things that she hadn’t thought of. Beautiful things, and she’ll be very happy with them, and it was fun to watch good salesmanship at work.

We continued on to a major artisan gift store and jewelry center just past Ortahisar, where a cousin of Hatice’s works. He showed us around. A grand establishment, catering to European tourists traveling in groups. Because we were with him, the massive commission usually paid to the tour guides was not in effect, and prices were steeply discounted. The main showroom for jewelry was very large, and round. A great circular space with glass cases full of every stone and style of contemporary jewelry imaginable, all in matching velvet trays. A space that induced hush and awe. It felt like Saks Fifth Avenue or some other great department store, but with a distinct Turkish feel. Fabric strips in two alternating colors (dark and light blue, I think) stretched from the top of the wall to the center of the peaked ceiling, giving the effect of a giant tent. (Also a way to dampen sound, and an inexpensive solution, the cousin pointed out.) Hatice wanted to buy a ring for her mother, as a belated Mother’s Day present. Ellen and Jen found some beautiful things as well. If I hadn’t bought the Turkman pendant yesterday, I might have been tempted. I love my bluegreen horse and wouldn’t want anything else.

On the way out, and in contrast to this formal experience in an elegant building, I took a photograph of a shovel I’d noticed in a wheelbarrow by the wall. Why? The metal shovel had an extra long handle, with odd curves in it - clearly made from a tree branch. Beautiful. I was thinking about my mother. I remembered her series of cast paper tools, and thought she would want to see this.

Yes we were tired. And hot. And trembling with thirst. But we also knew that today would be the best day for us to visit the rock churches in the open air museum at Goreme. It was just past five and the open air museum closes at six. I’m glad we went, though I probably would have just gone home if I’d been by myself. (Especially since it was four times as expensive as the other sites we’d visited today.) More formal, with museum guards and informative signs, but a landscape similar to Zelve. The church paintings surprised me into delight. Some with sophisticated color and Byzantine iconography, some with cartoon-like red ochre sketches. No photography allowed in any of the painted spaces, which consoled me when my camera battery finally gave up. (247 highest quality pictures on one charge - not bad.) I hope the photos in the Cappadocia book I have at home are helpful when I try to remember the sketch designs- especially those in the church of St. Barbara - I could have looked at them for a long time.

And then back to Barbara’s house, where Hatice helped us figure out the hot water heater, and we rested, and talked and drank water and tea and more water.

Now everyone else here seems to be asleep except me and the moths drawn to the light of my laptop. It’s late and past time to sleep myself.

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