That was quick. A week and a bit into the rally, and we already were ready for a break. Not surprising. Look at the adventure map. Jokers have dropped out. Teams have been torn asunder by police corruption. Handguns have been brandished in Russia, and a couple teams have prudently headed westward, retreating to the basecamp of Europe before making a final push eastwards. Like a climber on Everest, acclimating to the clime.
But we have taken a different tactic. We drove into Turkey and are on our third night in a posh little cave hotel. We are living up to the high standards which British explorers became known for while expanding the Commonwealth.
That’s right. We are off the rally for two days. But adventure abounds.
We are currently in Goreme, main city of Cappadocia. This region of Turkey is known for their welded tuft. A type of rock made from fused volcanic ash (or some such nonsense. Hope I got that right, lest my parents disown me). This alone would make the region only as exciting as Eastern Oregon. Except, unlike Eastern Oregon, Byzantines and early Christians carved homes and cities in their rock. Leaving massive shafts and adets stretching into the rock.
Yesterday, we set out by foot to explore these dwellings. After Roberta took a camel ride (and got our best map eaten by said camel), we headed into the valleys of homes.
We dodged from cave to cave, in complete awe of the fairy-tale like hills that surrounded us.
I also quickly learner some things about my companions. Well, one thing. Roberta and Shane are not fans of enclosed spaces. So, when we were on the fourth level of a cave house, trying to fit through a hole barely wider than a basketball hoop, Shane is not the happiest of campers.
“I don’t like having my shoulders pinned,” he noted.
Me, I was ok with the shoulder-pinning, since it kept me from tumbling down fifteen feet to the cold hard floor two levels beneath me. It seemed they liked stacking their holes together, which made ascending the highest levels quite an exciting proposition.
This became more evident when we visited an underground city. The main ventilation shaft stretches vertically a hundred feet straight into the ground. Each side had small hand and footholds dug into the rock. Climbing the entire shaft must have been terrifying.
Great fun was had as we dodged between rooms, trying to sneak up on each other. Cleverly attempting to peek our head out of the most improbable hole. Shane and I did our best to startle Roberta. But her relationship with Shane has tempered her against being easily scared. In fact, when Shane dissappears for more than a minute, she will wander into the largest open area possible and hold her ground so as not to be startled.
Other people have had no such training, and I inadvertantly scared the jeepers out of a Turkish girl who was not expecting to see another human lurking about in an ancient window.
However, our vacation from our rally came to an end, as all vacations do. We readied ourselves to drive off in the morning. Roberta found a Turkish bath to spend the afternoon at. I found the best coffee since leaving Seattle, a delightful cappuccino with a perfectly free poured leaf on top. Shane had a nap and bought four meters of chain from a Turkish auto shop to secure our roof rack with.
Tomorrow, we rally again, heading again to the shores of the black sea. Continuing eastward for the former USSR and parts unknown.