If you’ve followed our satellite tracking map, you might have noticed that our last few days have been spent in Cappadocia, the warm heart of Turkey. The decision to stay multiple days in this adventure wonderland, a Dr. Seuss world of ancient cave houses in tall pillars of rock, has put us at the back of the rally pack but at the top of adventure.
While our parents worry that we will run into trouble in the country of Georgia, we have been pinned in tiny holes in the ceilings of thousand year old cave houses as our feet hang below us scrabbling for a purchase in thin air.
You maybe wondering how we came to have our elbows pinned by our ears and our belt loops caught wedgie style on rock protrusions.
I’ll tell you. Religious intolerance. Wars between the Crusaders and the Islamic Devotees is what led us to be dangling from the roofs of caves.
The local denizens of Cappadocia have been living on the doorstep of the crusades. This meant that no matter what religion you were, sooner or later someone was going to come along and tell you that you were wrong. Then kill you.
Therefore the Cappadocians turned to their bizarre landscape for protection. The cliffs and rocks spires of the landscape is made from Welded-tuff or rather solidified volcanic ash. This material lends itself well to carving and a home built into the sides of these cliffs provides protection, a cool refuge from the scorching desert heat, and the ability to store food in a cold environment.
In doing so they left thousands of cave rooms, houses, and underground and cliffside warrens to explore. We had come across dozens of these adventure playgrounds dipping our heads in to find walk-in-closet sized churches and some larger single or double rooms. However, when we came across a 7 story high conical rock standing alone with a black, dark, hole in the side we dove right in.
The multi room house was great and proved to have a second exit. This didn’t intrigue as much as the hole in the ceiling with shallow divots in the side of the wall.
Hans said something along the lines of, “Oh yes old creepy cave house, I would love to climb into your attic.”
Had Roberta and I been alone we would have probably climbed into the hole, but seeing Hans survive the clambering challenge we followed in short suit.
We found ourselves in what the experts probably call a pigeonarium. This was an upper level in many homes and cliffs that held messenger pigeons. These played a great deal of importance in the war between the armies of the Cross and Crescent Moon.
For the Cappadocians it was their abundant poop that was valued, a precious fertilizer in a harsh, sun-baked land. Their eggs were also used for eating and the eggs whites used to mix with coloring to make paint for church frescoes.
While the Cappadocians have moved on from the old caves, the pigeons remain, nesting in thousand year old boxes carved high in the cliffs.
Fortunately, Hans sniffed out another hole which was a bit larger. This led to another, smaller, pigeonarium and another couple holes.
This room had an actual window compared to the little pigeonholes in the walls of the previous rooms. We climbed out into a spine of the rock with the expanse of Cappadocia spread out below us.
We took our pictures, ate snacks, then presumably Hans started talking about how epic a grain of sand was. At this point my mind wandered and I found myself examining the rock above the window we had come out.
I found a smaller window ten or so feet above, and thought, “Wow! Another level! I bet Roberta would be impressed if I waved to her from it.”
The entrance to the next floor was hard to find. The hole was about the width of a basketball hoop and buried in the deep dark recesses of the roof.
“Yeah, she’ll find it funny.” I told myself.
Because climbing into a dark, small, hole isn’t enough of a challenge the cave house made sure that there was a hole dropping to the floor below, just under the one I planned to climb.
Fueled by an uncommon and short lived courage I hopped up and scrabbled, twisted, and scraped my way to the last level.
I ran over to the window and yelled to Roberta who was suitably impressed. Feeling like the hero I was, I decided it was time to go down and meet the impressed lass for a heroic kiss.
I got delayed when I looked down the opening into the dark room below. And the one below that. And perhaps another but it was too dark to know.
But then again there wasn’t another option was there?
I left my hero status in the top level of that cave house because Roberta came in a bit later to find me stuck in the ceiling with feet kicking wildly.
Since you know I made it down the cave hole* I will skip to reassuring you that I approached the rest of my stay in Cappadocia with caution and only ended up getting stuck once more.
In a cave city.
150 feet below the surface.