Leaving Istanbul on a night bus to Goreme, it in itself shouldn’t have been difficult, but I had fallen in love with this city.
I haven’t done a twelve hour bus trip for a while, sleeping was difficult, but the seat was comfortable, as a photographer not seeing the passing landscape made me feel I was missing so much.
As the leaden sky started to lighten with first light of morning, I could make out we where travelling by a huge lake in a barren landscape, I started to get excited for the destination. Cappadocia being famous for its amazing landscapes, coloured rock formation, fairy chimneys and rock phalluses.
In the far distance the plains were giving way to snow capped mountains, just visible as we started to rise from the valley. Stopping soon after, changing buses, and still heading east. I could sense the excitement from the other travellers. As we headed into the direct light of the still rising sun, casting big black shadows in the bus blinding chalky eyes with it’s blinding bright light, all of a sudden we came to the edge of this high plain and caught sight of the rift valley, here we where in this strange other world, often mistaken for the one that appeared in a Star Wars film
Quite surreal. Soon arriving on the valley floor of Goreme, just like an excited schoolboy I bounced off the bus grabbed my pack from underneath, and quickly found great accommodation in one of the cave pensions. Finding a cool relaxed pension with a view north just on the edge of the square, I checked in, meeting the three staff, I was invited to sit down to freshly arranged breakfast, this place was all mine, completely empty, the only guest, even after an exhausting journey, rest was out of the question, their was exploring to do, off like a school boy, still chewing my last my last mouthful, off I went, following the advice of the manager an ex- balloon pilot, he kindly showed me on his map one of his favourite walks, only 4-5 hours long, he explained how to find a little know track outside town near the camping area
The first thing I had noticed on arriving in Goreme, it was quite a bit warmer, the air dryer than Istanbul, having got used to the soft salt laden breeze, blowing off the Bospharus river or coming down form the Black sea.
Being a little tied from the bus trip, in stead of walking the 4 kms to the start of this goat track I hitched, I was picked up instantly by a woman and her aged father he looked close to 90 years but very fit and healthy.
Found the track next to the camping area, which was right beside where my Samaritans own home where the old man lived, right on the adjoining property, who would have guessed, a perfect start to a already brilliant day, pack on back camera in hand off into this other world experience, what a feast for the eye and soul.
In the end I spent 3 days wondering, walking, exploring and hitching, from tracks end or to the start of these incredible walks.
Just off track, one other experience, I had the most incredible moussaka dish ever, unfortunately I wasn’t alone, a dog had come up and sat beside me, face not more then 30 cm away for this plate of heaven, Perplexed, this dog, I already knew had great taste, not wanting to be distracted from this incredible dish, I kept repeating go away! go away! to no avail, it was very distracting, dog breath, I was sitting in an open square, the waiter was hanging off to the left he was watching my plight, secretly with some amusement I am sure, finally he came over, looks at me then the dog, and says this dog, it does not speak English, it’s Turkish you have to say Gitmek! Gitmek!……… We laughed so hard, well how does a German Shepard learn English
There are very few men in the middle east with a shaved head, so it all becomes quite a novelty for these expert hair removers, It was well past my time for a shave, one of the quite times after lunch when everyone sees to melt into their own worlds I found a barber who was just opening, we agreed the price, down I sat, all was fairly normal until the moment of clean up, he picks up a piece of twisted wire and places a piece of cotton wool on the end then dips it into a clear fluid, not knowing what was coming next, my curiosity peaked especially as he reached for a cigarette lighter, about to ask what he intended
I caught sight of a young man entering the room, just as the cotton wool burst into flames, he waved it at my ears instantly causing a catastphi what seemed to me like a very large fires, they seemed to last far to long as I could smell cooking, pulling my hands from under the cloak bashing the side of my head trying to extinguish the two fires, [to much accelerant for sure], out of the corner of my eye in the reflection of the mirror, I saw the look on the teenagers face, it was one of shock, made worse by the smell of burnt hair and flesh, he ran from the tiny room with his hand over his nose, after the smoke had cleared, some moments later he re entered I am sure to see what was left of the fires, the sizzling had stopped for sure but the smell and pain was still very evident to me. Days later I could still smell burnt pork every time I turned my head to quickly. The funniest thing was the youth manned a store, which I walked past regularly, every time we looked at each other we would bust into galls of laughter. We chatted a few times……. no he said, is normal, what burning ears, no remove all the hair …….