June 18, 2007 GMT

I know I'm quite a bit behind with my blog. This is why I'll keep this one short. Hopefully...

Waiting in Ankara for the visas was a bit boring. The only thing impressing there were the taxis I thought. So on Monday evening I happily left for Cappadocia.


Ankara cab

Cappadocia is a very picturesque region, where people since ancient times built their houses into the domes and cliffs of the sandstone rock around. There are even entire underground cities, complete with churches and everything (I didnt find the underground pub though). I cant remember why, when and how the Cappadocians built their "living caves" so if you're interested have a look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia.
I drove and hiked a lot and took many pictures of the place. Soon I got a little tired of all the postcards shots, so I also tried a bit black and white photography.


Rock dwellings


In an underground city




Famous phallic rock formations


Who knows a good name for this picture?


One day I met two germans, Stefan and Christine, who are cycling the world as part of their project: http://www.radfahren-gegen-krebs.de. I feel really bad, since my trip has no charitable intentions at all. So to salve consciences I ask you for the following:
If, while reading my stories, you are not bored to tears but find my writings interesting or even smile sometimes, you MUST go here and donate a few bucks. Thank you!


Stefan and Christine

In Nevsehir, the major town in Cappadocia, I met Azlan at the tourist information. Last year he guided my mom up Mount Ararat. He gave me information about climbing the Erciyes Dag, the biggest mountain of the area. Since it is 3917m high I was happy when Azlan first suggested a tour up the Hasan Mountain, about 3200 m high. This would give me a good opportunity to test my fittness and get acclimatized. An older german couple came along but was out of power after the first hour, so I finished the ascend with Azlan only. It was quite strenous, but rewarding since it's an old volcano with a very interesting crater.


Hasan Mountain, 3256m

When we were coming down the mountain I was again attacked by beetles. This time not as big as the may-beetles in Romania. Also I was less at unease, because they obviously had no sting. I had my bright white T-Shirt on and thought they must like me because of that. Finally I found a rock where they were having their party. The surface of the rock looked like moving because there were so many of them. Doing all kinds of stuff. Just look at these three swingers!


I was shocked and stumbled down the rest of the mountain, picking off beetles from all over my body. I wont get specific..
At the bottom I met again the nomads, that already invited us for tea when going up in the morning. Fortunately their dogs had no issue with me, so I sat down and laughed with them for a while. Such kind people! And I really liked that little girl that was blowing bubbles with its gum. Not only because she's so cute, but for the fun she had when the bubble popped and everyone got sprayed with her spit. She couldn't get enough of it.


Bubblegum girl

At that time I was actually alone, but the car was only a few hundred meters away. Everybody was waiting there. Not at the car, but with some other people that had invited them for Cay. You cant go 5 minutes without having to drink tea in Turkey. It's horrible!
We sat there for a while longer and everybody was enjoying the rock, the view and the talk. And the cay of course. The guy in the middle of the pic is Azlan.


Cay on the rocks!

Eventually the woman of the german couple got a bit nervous, because they mainly came to see the remains of some old byzantine city. It was hard to say goodbye even for Azlan. But we managed and drove to the city. It was really big, but mainly only the foundations of the houses were still there. The families from the nearby village used it for their sheep and goats. When we got there they just released the young ones of over 2000 to get to their moms and suckle. That was a a happening, I'm telling ya! The valley was full of cries from the little and the big sheep/goats. But everone finds their mom. The women and girls run around and take care of deseased ones or help with the feeding. Sometimes they even carry them around, looks quite funny. In the end the young ones got separated again until the evening of the next day.



During all that time the men just sat with us, enjoying the show and talking. But they are the ones that wander around with the flock all day - the herders. This one here, like many others, just came up to me with the warmest smile you can imagine, takes my hand with both his hands and greets me hello. You would not believe it.
But this time we rejected the food and the tea and got going, because a big thunderstorm was about to unload.


We drove home with heavy, heavy rain, even hail sometimes. The people in the fields didnt seem to notice. They just keep working.

Back at home Azlan invited us for a yummie dinner, but the german lady did not stop to complain. All day she didnt smile much, I dont know why. Everything was good, we agreed to split up on the mountain a long time before. They saw their city and even got the sheep show. But even though they were in Cappadocia for 6 weeks in total (they have a house there) she couldn't get rid of her everydays life attitude of complaining.
I dont know I dont know. These germans sometimes...

Anyway, we had good food there and I also stayed the night. I talked a lot with Azlans younger son, who was just studying for his final college exams. He did speak English quite well, which is not so common even among young people. I'm sure his father being in the tourist industry stressed the importance of a foreign language and was also happy for me being there and his son getting some practice.
But all of them couldnt quite understand why the hell I want to drive the "moto" to Turkmenistan or China. What do you do there? Why? I tried to explain, but the worlds are different. Just the fact that I travel just by myself. The turkish are way too social to do that I guess.

Before I set off to Kayseri and my next project, the Erciyes Dag, I did another loop through the Cappadocian villages. I wanted to find the point where there is a view of the Erciyes and in the foreground some of the colourful rock formations. I didnt want to walk much and found a rough dirt road going up a mountain. In the beginning it was ok, but later came a very steep and rocky part. When I failed the first time, I went into myself. Is it worth it? Will you give in?
NO, not after the first try!
After the second crash the same question. And the same stubborn answer. I offloaded some of my luggage and went again. Starting faster and thrashing the bike over the rocks hurt a little inside me. But it had to be! Whats a MZ good for?
A lot, I must say, I got it up that fucking hill.
Of course, the view was less then impressiv. The air was very hazy and I could just guess where the Erziyes was. But what the hell, that doesnt mater now. I made this hill, yeah!

On the way down I noticed the back brake not releasing and had the faint glimpse that this might be directly connected to the way I drove up. Back on the tar I stopped and looked. I didnt see what the damage exactly was, but found out that I could release the brake manually. I had a hand brake on the bike now :) For the next few hundred km I used the back brake only in emergency situations, because afterwards I had to stop and release it. That lead to some almost crashes and before I went to Syria I finally got it fixed. In half an hour. Cost 5 Euro.


Posted by Andreas Naumann at June 18, 2007 01:11 PM GMT

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