Cappadocia, or Kapadokya, a large region in central Turkey, is home to strange rock formations called fairy chimneys as well as millennia of human history and is where we are staying through Thursday of next week. We’re staying in a cave hotel which we found out are quite common around here. We’re within walking distance of at least a dozen. We thought we’d be somewhat underground and, therefore, cool; that is not the case. Our room is part natural, part man-made and is rather warm. Other than the heat, we love this area! We’re near two mosques and can hear the five-time-a-day call to prayer, including the one at 5:00 this morning. Actually, the kids slept through that; but I didn’t. We ate a delicious Turkish lunch yesterday, which included homemade wine and lemonade, lamb kebabs, olives, cheese, and pistachio ice cream, at a beautiful, open-air, family-owned restaurant down the road. We won’t be eating any bacon in Turkey since that’s not halal. Muslims don’t consume alcohol either, but grapes have grown and wineries have flourished in this area for many centuries, so the locals still make wine…hmmm. It was good wine! Today we climbed up the many winding stone and metal steps of Uçhisar Castle which is a big rock that looks like a castle. There are hollowed out areas in the soft stone that farmers used as dovecots – places where pigeons land and poop and then the farmers collected the poop to fertilize their fields. We saw lots of pigeons (“Majestic creatures,” Laurel called them, only half-jokingly. She has a soft spot for pigeons and rats.) perched on the rock cliffs as we ate lunch yesterday. Laurel was also happy to see pigeons in their natural habitat as opposed to America’s big cities.
As I was reading about Cappadocia today, I read that when Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) took power in the early 1920’s, he signed an agreement with Greece that there would be a population exchange; the 1.5 million Christian Greeks living in Turkey were forced to leave their homes and move to Greece while the 356,000 Muslims in Greece were forced to move to Turkey.