First: business - Is anyone in the States getting my emails??? I can email outside the US, but it's been radio silence for the USA since I got to Turkey (I get emails, just no responses to important questions).
I've decided to stay at Tabiat Pension for the rest of the week. Big breakfasts won in the end. That, and I like the folks that run in. I found out how to work the hot water, so I can survive the cold nights. I did have a pretty rude experience with the toilet, though. Turkish toilets have this hose (I don't know the proper name) that shoots out water to clean you when you are finished. Fine - I kind of like how clean you feel after. But Göreme must pump it's water in from some hidden glacier - I turned the knob and went into shock as a blast of icy alpine freshness shot up my ass at 7am. I didn't jump, I didn't scream; I just sat there in shock. I think I might have stopped breathing for a minute, I can't remember. Then I got up, went to my room, and crawled back under the covers.
I spent the day wandering the valleys around Göreme. I didn't have a destination in mind, which was good because I also didn't have a map that was worth a cent (I think there's a grant waiting to be written to produce some good hiking maps of the area). I packed my bag with water, Sultanı crackers, and Turkish chocolate (dark, rich, and slightly bitter, it's been one of surprises of Turkey) & headed out into the wilderness.
I had some vague directions from İbrahim at the Pension: start at the UFO Museum, head into Kılıclar, the Valley of Swords, cross this, then climb out and over into Rose Valley and Güllüdere; follow this to the small town of Cavuşin. Ten minutes past the road and I saw my first abandonned city. I left the path to explore. I wouldn't find it again for four hours. I had lots of chocolate - I wasn't worried. That, and one of the beauties of the high desert (we are at 1200 meters) is that you can climb any peak and see to the horizon. I was always oriented, even when I didn't know where I was.
I just posted sixty pics from the hike (Cappadocia / Day 2 Valley of Swords). These are out of the hundreds I took. When you look at them, remember that these were all places I stumbled upon; none were marked and I was rarely on the path. This land really is full of the kind of wonders that it doesn't matter which way you turn - you will see something. And the beauty of ıt was it was all mine to explore. It was just me and the birds for most of the day.
I followed the ridge up past the first town, and saw a doorway that for all the world looked like an entrance to a hobbıt's house. I crawled in, and the other end of the house opened up onto a fabulous valley. I sat to admire the view, and was thinking silly thoughts about hobbits and rings of power and wouldn't it be pleasant if Bilbo stopped by for a smoke. That's when I noticed a cross carved into the alcove to my left. I looked at it more closely, and realized that the bottom of the alcove had been hollowed out. I had seen this before at Saint Barbara's Church. I was looking at a child's grave. And that's when it hit me that this was a real place, not a fantasy for my enjoyment; that another generation had been born here, were loved, died, and then mourned.
I crawled out in a more sober mood, and went down into what I assumed was the Valley of the Swords. I thought that if I could just scale the other side I would come out onto the path to Güllünder and Cavşin. I tried many times, and discovered many wonders, but I couldn't find my way up and over. I would near the top and find an unclimbabe cliff, or head down a promising side valley only to have it dead end.
I decided to take the long way out, down the valley instead of up and over. And then stumbled upon the path. Cool. I told myself that I would stick to it the rest of the way. And I did. For ten minutes.
Well, more like five. There was just so much temptation outside the path, so many fantastic places to explore. The pictures can show you the rest.