Boundary Dam, Seattle City Lights
Our train lurched to a stop and I groggily raised my head from the pillow after being awoken by the train conductor knocking on our door and yelling something that I was unable to process because for one, it was in Turkish, and two, IT WAS 7AM. Ashlee and I scrambled to slip out of our pajamas and into our clothes for the day. After stuffing our belongings into our backpacks, we dashed down the length of the train and off onto the platform where the rest of the group had congregated. Succumbing to the grumbling of my stomach, I popped open a jar of hazelnut spread and starting digging in with the packet of crackers that I had grabbed as we were running off of the train. I can imagine that I was quite a spectacle for the Turkish men and women at the train station to witness as I jogged along the platform, hair all amuck and awry in a loose pony tail. My Northface was stuffed so full that laptop cords, articles of clothing, and my toothbrush peeked out and from its many unclosed pockets. My wrinkled pants and oversized shirt only served to add more disorder to my already disheveled look. To top it all off, now I’m shoving disintegrating crackers into an open jar of spread, and then proceeding to stuff the broken crumbs into my mouth. I would like to take a moment to apologize to my mother. Mom, I know that you raised me to be much more lady-like than I demonstrated in that moment.
Once we were aboard the bus in Aksaray, our driver immediately headed out towards our next destination—Konya. As soon as we had left the city limits of Aksaray, the only thing that could be seen from the outside of our windows were fields. Endless amounts of golden fields, the occasional sunflower garden, and ever so often a small house could be spotted in the distance. To be quite honest, I rather enjoyed staring out and seeing nothing but fields for miles. For the past two weeks we have been living in a city center that overloads your senses in every way imaginable and is visually packed with sites of building, after building of mosques, artisan shops, restaurants, apartments, and masses upon masses of tourists and Turks. It was almost soothing, in a sense, to finally view things that played on the minimum side of visual stimulation. However, as soon as we reached Konya, the overloading of the senses returned.
Twenty minutes after our arrival at the hotel in Konya we were already on our way to the first museum. Within the span of one day we managed to visit the Mevlana Museum, the Turkish Karatay Tile Museum, the Ince Minare Wod- and Stone-Carving Museum, and the Alladin Mosque. Three museums and one mosque was definitely a record high for the number of sights that we had visited in one day out of our entire trip to Turkey. Each museum has something about it that stuck out in my mind. The Mevlana Museum had an incredible collection of Korans of various sizes that had some of the most incredible illuminations that I had seen since during our time in Turkey. The tile museum was made up of the most striking hues of blue that made a feeling of calm wash over you and pull you into a state of contemplation and pure relaxation.
After a day spent on our feet all day long running through the streets from museum to museum across Konya, being able to sit down to dinner on the top floor of the hotel and watch the sun set over the skyline dotted with mosques was a feeling of relief unmatched by any other. It was our first night away from Sultanahmet and amidst the warm laughter and conversation over plates of steaming eggplant and lamb, we all seemed to have a silent agreement that this was the start of yet another adventure.
Embarking early on our journey towards Cappadocia from Konya, only two bus stops separated us from the final destination. First stop at a station that once housed caravans during the night to shelter them from raiders, the second for lunch, and the third at the first sighting of Fairy Chimneys.
For those who have not an inkling as to what a Fairy Chimney is, I turn to the source of all reliable knowledge, wikipedia, to assist in my explanation.
Hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, and earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basinor badland. Hoodoos consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They typically form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.
Being the stereotypical white boy that Jon is and myself being an Asian girl raised by a pack of white NorCal boys throughout all of high school, the sight before us translated into one thought: ROCK CLIMBING. I started down the hill with Jon close behind as we darted back and forth across the sandy rock and sediment, leaving a trail of golden white dust clouds behind each footfall. As soon as we reached the base, we begin circling the bottom of the hoodoo, scanning for the best possible route up into one of the doorways high above our heads. ”Aw yeah! CHECK IT OUT!” Scrambling down from where I stood and circling counterclockwise around the hoodoo towards Jon’s voice I turned my head upwards to watch as Jon began his ascent. It wasn’t a particularly high climb, but just high enough to make those butterflies flit their wings around in the pit of your stomach. I kicked off my Sperry’s and gripped the first toe hold with my left foot. Push up, grab with the right, find the next foothold. After the short ascent to the second doorway into the fairy chimney we pushed open the dilapidated, yet still somewhat sturdy wooden door and peered inside. Thoroughly satisfied (more by the short climb then the actual destination), we shimmied on down the rock face cautiously, making sure to test each hold before trusting it with our weight.
Hopping back down and slipping my shoes back on Jon and I decided to have a quick run around the valley and explore the open playground of a landscape before us. It was only a few minutes before we heard the group yelling our names, beckoning us away from our exploration and back onto the bus. Reluctantly we make the most of our last moments of freedom and sprinted back through the dry brush and up the side of the hill, our footing slipping every few steps as the sandstone hillside crumbled easily beneath the tread of our shoes.
My last glance over my shoulder as we boarded the bus made me begin to wish— to wish that I was a nomad being able to wander aimlessly through the vast landscape of desert rock outcroppings and ancient stone dwellings, to wish that I could truly appreciate the creations made by man from the creations of God, to wish that I could live simply in a place such as this.