Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Turkey Day in Turkey........November doings

BeBe at fuel dock in Ece Saray Marina in Fethiye
topping off fuel tank for winter to prevent condensation.
That's me by the boat loading up Bill's cases of beer.
National holidays or special days of our home country often get ignored when outside the shores of the USA because those holidays are not celebrated elsewhere.   Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day this year all passed as regular days as we made no notice of these holidays.  And Halloween also passed with no notice whatsoever.  Here in Turkey I don't think anyone knows about Halloween.  Since we have no small children aboard, that was fine by us.  Have never really been into dressing up in costume for Halloween.  It is just an evening for kids to trick-or-treat and indulge in mountains of candy.  Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a holiday that we have always celebrated regardless of where we have been any given year.  There have always been a few fellow Americans nearby and we have gathered for a meal as traditional as could be prepared with whatever ingredients we each had aboard.  I think we all tucked away a can of pumpkin or yams or cranberry sauce or something associated with Thanksgiving whenever we found such a thing in any market wherever.

This year I had nothing of that kind on the boat.  And none of those things available for purchase in the local markets.  And no Americans in the vicinity.  Therefore, I planned to simply ignore Thanksgiving this year, especially since we will be flying home on Dec 5.  The last thing I wanted was a lot of food on the boat just a week or two before needing to shut down the fridge and freezer.  We would either take the bus to Marmaris and join the Thanksgiving dinner that is held at Pineapple's restaurant for the very large cruising community in that area, or we would ignore Thanksgiving altogether this year. 

Judy, Jean and Harvey at Thanksgiving
Ah, but there turned out to be a third alternative!  An unexpected invitation to someone's home!

Harvey and Jean are the owners of S/V Guitar, the boat docked next to us here in Fethiye.  They lived in the United States many years and learned to celebrate Thanksgiving.  They own a very nice apartment nearby; where they have based for the past 7 years, wintering in Fethiye and living in their apartment and sailing the Med during spring, summer and fall.  Harvey and Jean very graciously extended an invitation for Thanksgiving dinner in their flat.  And it was sumptuous!  A real turkey roasted to perfection and all the trimmings. 
Harvey, Julie, Jerry, Jean & Bill at Thanksgiving
I provided Texas style cornbread dressing and giblet gravy and an apple pie.  Through a mutual friend (Banu, the manager of the hotel marina where we are berthed), Jean had met another American couple, Jerry and Julie, who are visiting Fethiye for a few months; and she invited them to join the celebration.  Jerry is a professor at a university in Florida and is in Fethiye doing research for a book he is writing; Julie is a holistic therapist.  The evening was filled with interesting conversation and wonderful food and reflections of people and things for which to be thankful.  A perfectly lovely evening.  Many thanks to Harvey and Jean.

Jean serving desert.  She is more comfortable sitting
on the floor than on the sofa.  That would kill my hip.

A side note:  Harvey and Jean are in their 70s and are in amazing physical condition for people even half their ages.  Harvey is a runner and very fit.  Jean has the body and agility of a 25-yr-old.......thanks to yoga.  Oh, to have that kind of flexibility and muscle tone!  Color me green with envy.

Building retaining wall at hotel marina
About 2 weeks ago Yacht Classic Hotel began construction of the expansion of facilities for yachts.  Banu had warned us when we wrote the contract for our winter berthing that it is possible that we will have to leave the dock a week or 2 early next April because the hotel will be expanding the docks as soon as spring weather permits work to begin.  That is fine with us because if the weather is good enough for that construction then the weather is good enough for us to get moving.  We have a lot of miles to cover next year.  But, Banu did not mention that the hotel was also building new land facilities for yachts.  That part of the construction is underway now.  They are building a new swimming pool just for visiting yachts; so that the hotel pool can be for the exclusive use of hotel guests.  There will also be shops and showers and the normal things one might expect at a marina.  Then next April they will begin the water side of this expansion and will extend the dock where we are currently berthed and build additional docks on the western side in front of the new yachtie swimming pool and other buildings.

Breakfast buffet at the hotel.  Very different selections
than you will find at home
Before all that construction can get underway, the first thing that had to be done was to clear the land and build a retaining wall.  That is what men have been working on this month.  And what a retaining wall it is!  Bill has been like a little boy looking through a hole in the baseball park fence.  Several times a day he walks up the hill to check on the progress.  This will sound racist to some folks but will be totally understood by friends back in Texas.  Bill says these guys are working like Mexicans on steroids.  That is not meant to be racist.  The Mexicans we have known in Texas work harder than any of the rednecks or city boys.  These Turks could give the heartiest and most fit Mexican workers in Texas a real run for their money.  They do hard physical labor all day long, moving large rocks by hand and building that very tall wall and are in constant motion.  Bill has been fascinated by what he calls the Egyptian method of building this 40-ft tall wall.  As the men complete a 4-ft high section, then dirt is piled alongside the wall they have just finished and they start on another 4-ft high section; row after row of this until they reach the top of the hill where the road and sidewalk form the top of the wall.  The dirt is then removed and they move down another 100-ft and start the process all over again.  Bill will enjoy watching this project progress over the winter.  Yacht Classic Hotel should be capable of handling a lot more visiting yachts next year.

Our little dock is not full for this winter.  I don't think the hotel did anything at all to market available berths for the winter season.  The only reason we knew about this hotel is that friends on a boat just like ours stopped here in early May and sent us an email about the place because they knew we were shopping for a place for this winter.  There are only 4 boats at this dock which are occupied for the winter, us and 3 French boats.  Plus 4 unoccupied boats that are berthed here whose owners have returned to their respective home countries for the winter.  Plus 1 boat our size that is occupied by a paid captain, and 2 large Turkish yachts occupied by crew.  That is it.  And we very much enjoy our tiny community or lack thereof.  We like the town of Fethiye much, much better than Marmaris.  The lack of fellow cruisers is fine with us.  The large Ece Saray Marina is next door, and we have met the owners of 2 boats docked there who will be living aboard all winter.  We prefer our small dock rather than the larger marina.  The hotel showers and restrooms here are well-heated and the hotel restaurant remains open all winter.  The restaurant and bar beside the dock closed last week for the season; the swimming pool is being drained today.  The large supermarket is about a 1 mile walk (each way) into the main part of town.  The city-run dolmus (small bus) picks up and drops off right at the front door of our hotel; so in inclement weather there is alternate transportation rather than hoofing it.

Rainbow on a hazy day in Fethiye
In early December we will fly home to Texas for the annual visit.  Nothing else planned at the moment.  Bill has been shopping for new sails.  He has whittled down the list of possible sailmakers to 2 and we hope to rent a car this week and drive to Izmir and Marmaris to check out the lofts of those 2 manufacturers.  Bill is nervous about having new sails made because of our friend's experience in Thailand where his new mainsail was constructed wrong in every way possible and would not even fit on his mast.  This is becoming an agonizing decision and I will be glad when it is over.  The sails will be produced during the winter and we will take delivery in March so that we can get VAT refund when depart Turkey.  Great; that means months of worrying about these new sails.  

Barnacle encrusted deflated fender that attached
itself to our anchor chain

One last thing I meant to mention in a prior posting.  We had anchored in the western side of the huge bay here in Fethiye for 17 days before moving to this dock.  When we raised the anchor there was something entangled with our anchor chain.  It was a deflated fender with a very long line attached.  Somehow the bitter end of that long line had managed to thread itself through our chain.  We don't know how this was possible because the rope thickness was exactly the diameter of the chain link opening.  It would be hard to force that rope through that chain if you tried to do it.  But it did.  And then twisted the line round and round our chain.  A nasty barnacle covered mess.  When we first pulled it up we thought it was going to be a major hassle to get it free off our chain.  But when Bill found the bitter end of the rope and cut it, the rest fell away effortlessly.  The sea can do some strange things.

As always, click on any image for larger view.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our first Hash

Hash House Harriers.  Ever heard of this group?  Many cruisers are familiar with this  organization whose members or participants are called hashers.  We have seen hash groups in Grenada and across the globe in Malaysia; it is world round, even in Hanoi.

Borrowing from Wikipedia, here is a explanation (I have removed the usual Wikipedia links):

"Hashing originated in December 1938 in Kula Lumpur, then in the Federated Malay States  (now Malaysia), when a group of British colonial officers and expatriates began meeting on Monday evenings to run, in a fashion patterned after the traditional British Paper Chase or "Hare and Hounds", to rid themselves of the excesses of the previous weekend. The original members included, Albert Stephen (A.S.) Ignatius "G" Gispert, Cecil Lee, Frederick "Horse" Thomson, Ronald "Torch" Bennett and John Woodrow. A. S. Gispert suggested the name "Hash House Harriers" after theSelangor Club Annex, where several of the original hashers happened to live, known as the "Hash House" where they also dined.
After the end of World War II in an attempt to organize the city of Kuala Lumpur, they were informed by the Registrar of Societies that as a "group," they would require a Constitution. Apart from the excitement of chasing the hare and finding the trail, harriers reaching the end of the trail would partake of beer, ginger beer and cigarettes.
The objectives of the Hash House Harriers as recorded on the club registration card dated 1950:
  • To promote physical fitness among our members
  • To get rid of weekend hangovers
  • To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
  • To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel
Hashing died out during World War II shortly after the invasion of Malaya, but was restarted in 1946 after the war by several of the original group, minus A. S. Gispert, who was killed on 11 February 1942 in the Japanese invasion of Singapore, an event commemorated by many chapters by an annual Gispert Memorial Run.
The second hash group to form was by Gus Mackey on the Italian Riviera, named the Bordighera H3.  In 1962, Ian Cumming founded the third chapter in Singapore. The idea eventually spread through the Far East and the South Pacific, Europe, North America, and rapidly expanding during the mid-1970s.
At present, there are almost two thousand chapters in all parts of the world, with members distributing newsletters, directories, and magazines and organizing regional and world Hashing events. As of 2003, there are even two organized chapters operating in Antarctica."

Jean, Judy & Harvey
So, in a nutshell, this is a running/walking group that likes to drink beer and have fun.  We participated in the Oludeniz Hash House Harrier group at the invitation of our port side dock neighbors, Harvey and Jean aboard S/V Guitar.  Harvey and Jean own a flat nearby and winter in Fethiye, sailing the Med the rest of the year.  They have sailed over 90,000 miles in Guitar, circumnavigating twice.  And they are a lovely, friendly couple.   

When we arrived at the appointed location for this particular 'hash' at the entry there was a banner sign in Turkish which translated "Farm of the Sacrificial Goat."  Jean said when we finished the hash maybe all us old goats were going to have our throats symbolically slashed.  Soon about 60 people had gathered and instructions were provided for the course to be followed.  It sounded pretty straightforward -- follow the splashes of white flour on the ground that marked the direction to proceed.  We would encounter a circle of flour when paths converged.  There usually are several false paths to confuse the runners in the front of the pack.  Once determining the correct path, a runner is supposed to mark the circle of flour (kick up a space in the dirt) so that people following will know which direction to go.

I knew from the day this invitation to participate was extended that I would not be doing any running.  I do not run.  Ever. Under any circumstances. Period.  Even when I was young and very fit I hated running.  Absolutely out of the question today in my old age.  So, as I would be bringing up the rear, the path would be clear to me.....just follow the butts in front.  Bill opted to walk with me.  He used to be a runner and might have enjoyed a little bit of running this day, but I think he was happy to walk with me.  That spring is no longer in his knees.  This group was mostly old people like us and most people walked.  There were only 4 runners going uphill and 6 runners downhill.  We started out in the middle of the group but soon dropped back near the rear.  Only a half-dozen or so people were behind us walking up the hill.

Sad to admit, but I never made it to the top of the hill.  Supposedly there was a beautiful view from up there but we missed it.  The path was flat for a short distance and then began a continual incline of probably only 15 to 20 degrees.  That was enough to get my heart to pumping (and backwashing because of the prolapsed mytral valve).  Soon I was completely out of breath and stopping for rest breaks.  Guess I made it maybe 2/3 of the way before the route circled back.  This prolapsed mytral valve has never given me any trouble except for getting out of breath on any inclines.  When climbing castle steps high on the mountain in Cyprus last spring, I felt chest pains for the first time and decided to stop the exertion.  Walking up this incline for 45 minutes caused those same chest pains, so I again stopped the exertion.  My new self-imposed rule is that I can do any physical activity (even when it causes all the huffing and puffing) until chest pains start.  Then I stop and rest, whatever the activity.

I stopped and said it was time for me to turn around a few minutes before one of the runners from the front of the pack passed by on his return.  He said the last part was extremely steep, so I am glad I had decided to stop at that point.  If I couldn't handle a 15 - 20 degree incline that the runners considered nothing, there was no way I could make it up an incline that they considered extremely steep.  I wasn't the only one who didn't make it to the top of the hill.  Four others stopped in the same spot and we all turned back together.
The level where we turned around.  That is Fethiye in the distance on the left by the water.

Going back downhill was a breeze for me and painful for Bill.  The angle of the incline caused his hip to hurt.  Once finally back on the level path, the pain subsided.  Gosh, we are falling apart in our old age!

After everyone had returned to the starting point, they gathered in a circle and made a few announcements and a few awards for various things.  One guy was given his new name.  That is another of the hashers traditions.....members are given fake names.  For example, Jean is known as Sea Hag.  Theory being that you can act bad when being a hasher and not be known for your bad behavior under your real name.  Sort of like, if it happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas.

Then about half of us went to a nearby restaurant for beer and pide (Turkish pizza).

A nice day.  We will do it again if invited.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Antalya and Duden Waterfall

Tuesday and Wednesday, 23 and 24 October 2012
5th and 6th days of our group tour
As always, click on any image for larger view.
After a leisurely breakfast we checked out of the hotel and boarded the bus for 09:00 departure.  Today would be a very full day of driving.  Rather than return to Fethiye via the route by which we had arrived in Cappadocia we would be driving to Antalya on the coast.

Cave at Duden Waterfall

Several comfort stops and 8 hours later we arrived in Antalya to find rain.  Glad the rest of the trip had been clear weather; could not have been any more perfect.  We were supposed to go see a waterfall late this afternoon, but the rain changed those plans.  After the long drive I think we were all quite happy to have comfortable hotel rooms.  Kick back and watch a little more propaganda on CCTV -- Central China TV.  

Dinner was in the hotel restaurant, thank goodness.  We did not feel like going out and were happy to stay inside the hotel and make it an early night.

Bill inside cave at Duden Waterfall

The next morning dawned sunny and bright once again.  After breakfast buffet we loaded back into the bus and soon were at the Duden Waterfall, the site we missed the previous afternoon due to the rain.  

It was muddy and wet but not too bad.  There were stone pathways almost everywhere we went in this park and no rain fell on our little noggin heads, so all was good.

Stream at Duden Waterfall

This was not a big waterfall but we could easily see this being a very popular spot during the hot summer months.  We walked around and down to a cave of sorts that overlooks a large stream that was flowing quickly due to yesterday's rain.  We walked down one side of the water, over a bridge and back to the bus.  Pretty place, even with mud puddles.

Yivli Minare Camii (Fluted Minaret Mosque)
built in 1230 and is 125 feet high

We loaded back into the bus for the short drive down to the old harbor area of Antalya.  About half of the group accompanied Tas down to the old harbor.  I was done walking up and done hills and Bill was glad to hear me say that I was not participating in this venture down just to turn around and huff and puff back up that hill.  I have seen enough old harbors and Hadrian's Arches.  Didn't feel that I would be missing anything.  Bill was relieved and stayed with me.  He didn't want to do it either.

Look closely to find the old harbor wall just left of center

We walked around the old bazaar district of Antalya for an hour while the others did their thing.  And we enjoyed this a lot.  It was hot and we found a McDonald's for a cold drink.  Tas had warned us that we would not be stopping for lunch this day, so we bought a couple of apple pies at McDonald's to save for a snack during the comfort stop en route to Fethiye.  

A spice shop in the bazaar

Brass knuckles for sale outside a shop
It was funny walking through It 

 It was fun walking around the bazaar.  The merchants standing outside their shops would speak to us in German or Russian.  When we did not respond, they would switch to Turkish.  When we did not respond to that, they would switch to English spoken with a British accent.  When we responded in our Texas twang drawl they were really confused.  Not an accent with which they are familiar.  But when asked where we are from and we replied "Texas" every single one of them knew about Texas.

A  real sidewalk sale

At a corner near the entrance to the bazaar someone arrived and placed a bunch of stacks of clothes on the sidewalk in front of a business.  Within minutes a crowd of people built up.  They were selling clothing.  Looked like there were some real bargains going down and the clothing looked first class new.  But since we don't speak Turkish we stayed away.....sort of stood 50-ft away and watched.  Sure enough, within 10 minutes the police arrived and shut it down.  Wonder if this sort of thing happens frequently.

Really?  Viagra comes in a tea now?
Soon we met up with the group at the appointed location and once again boarded the bus.  Three and a half hours later we were in Fethiye, home sweet home aboard BeBe.

This was a really good trip.  I would recommend Koral Tourism to anyone planning such a trip.  They do know how to put together a good tour with good accommodations.  Thanks very much to Gwen on the yacht K.W. in Marmaris for arranging it .

Turkish Night

Monday evening, 22 October 2012
4th day of our tour trip
As always, click on any image for larger view.
First belly dancers.  Or were they hip dancers?

Twelve of the 14 members of our tour group opted to attend Turkish Night.  The other couple wanted to go shopping because they had not seen a shopping mall in about 2 years and there was one right across the highway from our hotel.  None of us knew what to expect at Turkish Night except that there would be a very brief demonstration of the Whirling Dervishes.  We had to see that.

 I have already explained the Whirling Dervishes in a prior posting, so I won't go into all those details again.  The exhibition that we saw this night lasted only about 15 minutes.  A real Whirling Dervish ceremony usually lasted far longer, sometimes hours; and the Dervishes appear to go into a trance, although the devotees claim the trance is simply rumor.  The demonstration we saw was exactly as described in my prior post.

2 tables of our group

The lights were dimmed to darkness and the Dervishes entered;did their performance; and exited.  Out of respect to them, no alcohol or food was served during the performance.  Then the lights were brought back up and the Dervishes re-entered.  They twirled a few times for photo opportunities; then exited again.  Turns out that these same young men were the dancers in the rest of the dances we would see that evening.

One of the men's dances

The first dances were performed by men.  Lots of footwork.  Much later in the evening these same men performed a most impressive dance with extremely high jumps.  Heck, bet even our best professional basketball players wish they could jump even half that high!  

Knife thrower -- from his teeth.

This guy on the left did a slightly different type of performance.  He did not actually dance this time; instead, he placed a 14-inch large knife balanced with the tip on his lower front teeth and the side of the blade against his nose.  Then he flipped his head in such a manner that the knife would flip over and over, landing upright with the tip stuck into a large piece of wood placed on the floor several feet in front of him.  How he accomplished this without cutting his nose escapes me.  I've never seen anyone do that.  

Only once did the knife not land tip down into the wooden block.  That once it went flying across the center of the room, stopping well short of hitting anyone in the audience seated at the tables.  Good darn thing that there wasn't a waiter walking by at just that moment.  But I guess they have done this enough times that all the waiters know to stay well clear.  Guess it was really a darn good thing that a customer didn't decide to go to the restroom right that moment.

Headless guy dancing for tips
Going to the restroom apparently was challenging.  I didn't go so don't know if I would have had the same experience, but several people (including Bill) reported how they exited our dining room and found the restrooms easily.  But when returning, they somehow ended up in a different dining room that was identical to ours.  Everything was exactly the same.....except the customers seated at the tables.  The dance teams went from one room to the other so sometimes even the dancers performing were the same as when a customer left his dining table.  Walk into the room and find the same dancers doing the same dance as when you left the table....except you were in a completely different room.  We saw confused faces entering our room all evening; so I guess this was a common occurrence.

Getting his money from Bill
During one break in the dancing, two guys in headless costumes came into the dining room and cavorted around.  They would go up to people seated at the tables and do a sort of belly dance right into their faces.  One did it to me and I could see a $1 USD bill folded into his belt, so I assumed he was asking for a tip.  I didn't have any money and said so and he moved on to another person.  She and her husband had heard me saying "he wants money" and had quickly pulled out a 5 lira bill.  The headless guy proceeded around our tables, ending up seated next to Bill so that Bill could put money into his belt.  

Selma teaching Tony to dance

Selma with her wings

The last 2 dances of the evening were performed by Selma the belly dancer.  She was one of the better belly dancers I have seen.  She arrived with a costume having big silver panels of fabric that attached to wrists and fanned out like wings as she danced.  Those were soon removed and she then danced a short while before bringing up 3 members of the audience to dance with her.  One of the people she selected was a member of our group, Tony.  He was a very good sport about it.  Good selection on her part.

There was one German gentlemen who really got into it.  She had to tame him down a bit.  He was having a great time.  I have included a video of him below, along with videos of several of the dances.

Mark and Dorothy Hazlett from Hawaii
Tony and Elaine from UK

Here are a few photos of some of the couples in our group that evening.

Dennis and Janet Knight from UK

Archie and Liz from Scotland

The way videos are uploaded to this site it is impossible now for me to give each video a label or title.  But be sure and click through until you find the ones of Selma.  The last one should be the best.

Soganli and carpet weavers

Monday, 22 October 2012
Afternoon of the 4th day of our tour trip
As always, click on any image for larger view.
Must move out of the old and into the new.  Free.
After touring the underground city we drove maybe 20 miles to another community in the Cappadocia region.  This one looked different.  It was a long narrow valley between high mountains.

Along the main road to Soganli we passed many fairy chimneys and evidence of hundreds of rock homes.  These homes were carved into the mountain and cliff faces.  Interspersed among the rock homes were small communities of relatively newly built brick homes.  The homes were not grand but they were also not small.  They looked quite nice.  

More moving out of the old and into new FREE homes
 Tas explained that the Turkish government is building these homes FREE for the people who live in the rock homes.  The government wants people to stop living in the rock homes, claiming safety concerns.  These new homes are constructed completely free of charge to the new occupants.  Of course, now the occupants will have to pay for electricity and water.  But their housing is FREE from the government.  The people have no choice in this matter.  The government has declared that they must accept the free homes and must vacate the rock homes.  (Maybe the safety concerns are because this part of the world continues to experience relatively frequent earthquakes.)

Karabas Kilise, The Big Church

Soon we turned off the main road and into the valley where the village of Soganli is located.  The tiny village is still inhabited, the new structures blending into the old.  There were a few houses where one could tell it was originally a house carved out of the rock, then added on with stones placed atop one another and mortared into place, then added onto yet again with more modern concrete block or brick construction.  All combined into one building.  Not how I would chose to live but I think it is good that the local people continue to live as they have for centuries, with only the barest of intervention by the modern world.  The villagers seemed quite happy with their lives.

Inside the Big Church

The small bus wound up the hillside on the right side of the valley, about one-third up the mountain.  We exited and climbed up stone steps to a small church -- the Karabas Kilise or The Big Church.  It really wasn't all that big,  But then I didn't have to carve it out of the stone.  I imagine it felt pretty darn big to those people who did this work around 500 A.D.

Tas describing the Big Church

The church was re-built (expanded?) in the 11th century and again in the 13th century.  One thing that obviously was done during these renovations was covering the original frescoes.  This was evident on several places on the walls.
The stone steps leading up to the church entry were very worn.  It would be easy to take a tumble there.

Infant Jesus

The 'doorway' (no door, of course; this is a rock church and they did not have doors) leads into the first and main part of the church.  There are rooms on either side of the main chapel area.

The walls and ceilings were originally painted in simple patterns and stripes, using earth colors.  After the discovery of oil paints, the earth colors were painted over in the new oils.  And they must have really liked very dark oil paints as it seems very black inside this church.

Baptism of Jesus

The images are of Jesus as an infant, his baptism as an adult, his religious struggle, and the persecution of the Byzantines by the Seljuks.  There were many more images than these 4 described, but these 4 dominate.

Old earth colored paintings beneath the dark oil paintings.
Notice the Greek graffiti everywhere.

What was upsetting (especially to our Turkish guide) is that every surface of the church has been defaced.  In Greek!  These paintings were done by Greeks and have been defaced by Greeks.  Why would they do that to historic paintings of their own heritage!

Yet more religious paintings inside the Big Church

We boarded the bus again and motored down the road to another church.  I think this one was called the Snake Church.  Bill and I opted not to climb up to this one.  Tas told us the best one was the church we had just seen; and, quite frankly, we were getting tired of seeing the interiors of rock churches.  We stayed on the lower level and enjoyed the scenery of the valley and mountains on either side.

Little did we know what was next in store for our little group.  Another hike!  

Fertilizer collection rooms cut into rock

Only this one was a bit more uphill than the others had been.  We trudged off up the hillside on to the left side of the valley.  Tas said it would be about half-hour to 45 minutes for us to walk back to the village.  I think we took a little longer than that because we stopped so often to enjoy the scenery and to check out more rock houses and churches and formations.

White around 'windows' to attract birds

One of the many things that Tas pointed out to us were the white spaces painted around the tiny window openings cut into many of the rock faces.  The white is put there to attract the birds (doves this time; the places yesterday were attracting pigeons).  Then their guano is collected to be used as fertilizer.  Use whatever is naturally available in the area since shipping fertilizer in (even today) would be cost prohibitive.  They have been doing this guano collection for fertilizer here for over 1500 years.  Guess it works just fine.

Slowly up we go
Looking back down valley

As we continued up the hillside the scenes became more striking. 

First turret church

Another turret church

On this side of the valley were several more rock churches as well as many rock dwellings.  The structures on this side were more deteriorated than the other side of the valley.  Maybe they were older.  Or maybe the wind is stronger on this side.  Whatever the reason, the difference was obvious even to our unschooled eyes.

A turret standing alone
A couple of the most deteriorated churches had what looked like turret tops carved from the stone.  Wonder how people got up on top of those tall pinnacles and managed to do these carvings.

Inside solitary turret
And the turret tops were also carved out inside to create interior rooms.  A lot of work went into making these churches from solid rock.  This is not sandstone or limestone.  It is solid rock.

One I did not climb into
Looking out for the holes
in the ground!
At a couple of places there were holes broken through the earth that revealed more rock rooms below the surface.  Care was needed to walk on this path near the top because these holes were right in the center of the path.  Falling down inside one of those rooms would be a real eye opener!  And painful to get back down to the road level.

A different looking one
As we began the descent the sky darkened so we quickened the pace and the group began to split up.   By happenstance we were among the first 4 people to reach the village level.  A dog with the most unusual coloring around his head and ears came to say hello.  I tried to get a photo of his white face with the dark gray markings with his dark gray ears framing his face.  But every time I clicked the camera he would turn to greet new arriving members of our group.  A sweet friendly thing he was.

Village ladies selling their wares
Friendly dog

The village ladies had set up tables of crafts and things for sale.  One lady held up a handmade doll that looked cute and called out "1 lira" so I walked up to her table.  Once there, she changed the price for that particular doll to 5 lira.  That is still a cheap price but it annoyed me that she named one price to get me there and then a higher price to actually buy, so I walked away without the doll.  If she had held up that doll and said "5 lira" in the first place, I would have bought it.  But 'bait and switch' is a sales technique that annoys me greatly and I refuse to participate in it.
Still living in this one.  Note the blue doors.

Looking back from the village toward side we hiked.

The village restaurant had set up a long table outside beneath a tree for us, but several members of our group felt cold and wanted to eat inside.  All the other tour groups were eating outside so we had the entire restaurant to ourselves.  This turned out to be a wise move because about half-way through our meal the skies opened and rain poured.  And we all stayed snug and dry inside.

Weaving a camel designed rug

Next on the agenda was a visit to a Carpet Weavers Cooperative.  The Turkish government is doing its best to encourage some of the traditional Turkish skills and crafts, and carpet weaving is high on that list.  There are a few of these carpet weaver cooperatives spread throughout Turkey.   The carpets are always woven by local women.  

I love her headscarf.  She has such a pretty smile.

On each loom there was a small mirror hanging about eye level with the woman doing the weaving.  I asked the factory tour guide what the mirrors were used for.  His answer, "They are ladies.  All ladies like to look at themselves in the mirror.  To be sure they look nice."  Funny thing; I don't think I ever had a mirror hanging beside the computer monitor when I worked.

The ladies weave whatever pattern they like.  Sometimes
they will weave a specific pattern for a special order.

Our guide had told early in the trip that the average age of death in urban areas of Turkey is 70 for men and 72 for women.  But that in the rural areas, the life expectancy is 85 for women and 70 for men.......because the women do ALL of the work (farm and house)  and the men just sit around drinking tea or coffee and playing dominoes or cards all day.  This observation got a laugh because all of us had noticed this same behavior throughout Turkey.  The women are always out working the fields and the men are always sitting in the shade and drinking tea or coffee.  The men don't appear to do much.  All that physical activity throughout their entire lives affords the women with increased longevity.

Boiling silkworm cocoons to get the threads
Back to the carpets.  First we were shown numerous women weaving carpets of different patterns.  On the top section of each loom hung an illustration of the pattern to be woven.  The women free-hand the colors of the threads to make the pattern desired.  This skill takes many years of training.  Young girls used to do this in their spare time to improve their skills.  Today with cell phones and televisions and computers, girls are no longer interested in learning the weaving skills.  Carpet weaving appears to be a dying art.  

Separating threads from each cocoon takes practice
It takes months and sometimes years, depending on the size and pattern of the rug, for a carpet to be completed.  That is why the carpets are so expensive.  And make note that the correct name for these carpets is Turkish carpets, not Persian carpets.  Carpet weaving originated in Turkey; it did not come from Persia.  So all those folks who have Persian carpets have knock-offs.

Each silk thread is 3/4 mile long. 

Next in the factory tour was the room where silk was explained and demonstrated.  We have seen silkworm cocoons boiled and threads pulled loose in now 3 countries, so none of this was new to us.  In Cambodia they boiled the cocoons in dye, so the threads were colored before being separated from the cocoons.  Here the threads are pulled while still white and then later dyed.  Each silkworm produces 1.5 kilometer of silk thread to make its cocoon.  After being boiled and pulled loose, the result is 1.2 kilometer of silk thread per cocoon.  (For Americans, multiply that by .6 to get mileage of thread per cocoon.)  That is a surprising quantity of thread from each silkworm!

Today the best dyes for the silk threads are performed by nano technology.  And this particular carpet weaving cooperative has the machines for this task.  The colors last much, much longer than any of the other forms of dyes.

Shopping members of our group

Next we were shown into a demonstration room with benches lining 3 sides.  We sat and were served tea or wine or Turkish coffee.  And then the carpets started rolling!  The factory tour guide explained the quality and pattern and labor hours required for each carpet as he rolled them out onto the floor in front of us.  Dozens of carpets, ranging in size from very small to maybe 8-ft by 12-ft. 

This one felt the best.  Only $16,707
I am sitting, not standing, so please realize how
small that carpet really is!

People who know us will know that we have positively zero interest in owning a Turkish carpet, either for a floor or as a wall hanging.  Nothing, no matter how attractive, would be tempting us to purchase.  But a couple of other members of our tour group did make purchases.  The Turkish government pays all taxes, custom fees and shipping to anywhere in the world.  That is a big deal when purchasing these carpets.  But, again, nothing was going to tempt us to buy anything.

If the little blue one is too expensive, how about this
one; only $8,000.  It was my favorite pattern.

Just to give you an idea of the cost of these carpets, Bill snapped a photo of me holding a very small carpet made from the finest silk threads.  The price was 29,900 lira, which would be $16,707 USD.  Oh yeah, I'm going to spend 16 grand on a little bathmat sized rug.  Count on it!  But it did feel smooth as a silk negligee.  There were much less expensive cotton carpets but if you are going to have a Turkish carpet, shouldn't it really be the best or not at all!  

After all carpet purchases were finalized we drove through the Pasabagi fairy chimneys.  

The scenery was again dramatic but we were tired and ready to get back to the hotel to freshen up before going to the Turkish Night festivities.