Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cappadocia, Turkey

I seem to be on a horse-bender lately.  Since I'm already in Turkey, I thought I'd take a break from digging up previously-undisturbed sections of Troy and pay a visit to Cappadocia ("the land of the beautiful horses").  I'd heard good things about the place.  I was mildly intoxicated at the time, but I vaguely recalled hearing that the entire region was inhabited by fairies of the lonely bachelor variety, إن شاء الله.  These reports piqued my scientific curiosity, so I made off (quite heterosexually, mind you), armed with my safari hat, favorite trowel, and a Wagnerian tune in my heart.

Well, you can imagine my disappointment when, upon my arrival to the Nevşehir Province, I discovered that the description of lonely fairies hadn't been entirely legitimate.  That's what you get for obtaining your information from locals who don't know the first thing about the rigorous methodical standards we archaeologists must adhere to.

Standing tall
Apparently, the fairies in question are actually natural geologic formations referred to as "fairy chimneys," or "hoodoos".  They are tall, thin shafts of sedimentary rock that protrude upwards, resembling a pole or a column.  The main body of the formation is topped by these "heads"a firmer stone that protects the rest of the structure from the elements.  Alongside these are many spires, which start off thick around the base and taper into the sky.  I took numerous photographs for my "special folder".

Into these structures residents of Cappodocia carved their monastic dwellings (I suppose this is where that Mohammedan got "lonely bachelor" from).  Several underground cities also exist, where members of the then-heretical Christian cult hid from prosecution.  It is here where, within ten minutes of my arrival, I made a remarkable discovery, which I just know is going to titillate my colleagues!  With the aid of a mysterious "guide" holding a microphone and her assistants (mostly elderly men and women, oddly enough), I climbed until I couldn't go any further.  Luckily, by then we had reached our destination. Upon entering one of the larger rock faces and shoving aside a small crowd of children that had gathered thereprobably to catch a fleeting glimpse of the famed explorer that is Heinrich Schliemann (sorry children, I expect you wanted my autograph, but I simply hadn't the time in the midst of my discovery)—and lo!  An entire monastery carved into the hills and decorated with frescoes dating back to the Byzantine era!  

Most of the art was of a religious nature, including one depicting Saint Onophrius, a virgin female miraculously transformed into a man and depicted with a long beard and breasts.  I again found myself strangely intrigued.  Scientifically.

The frescoes were quite a find, indeed.  I think now you can see how I received my illustrious reputation.  In my excitement, I may have accidentally sent an elderly gentleman colliding into one of the delicate, expertly-painted icons of Christ and rubbed out a good half of the image, but I made sure to repair the minor damage to the piece with the permanent marker I always keep in my front pocket (for those occasions where I'd need to sign a head shot of myself).  Why, I think my addition of a handlebar mustache and devil horns actually improved the value of the piece!

 
My inSPIREation

The whimsey of the fairy towers inspired me to compose a poem.  I'm something of a renaissance man, you see.  I call it: Pointy Rocks.

كابادوكيا ذات ابراج عالية.
الجمال الطبيعي من هذه الارض لممثلي مشابهة يتم مواجهتها.
وأتمنى أن يقوم شخص بناء تمثال بي.
أما تمثال على طول الجبال.

Translation, for you simpletons who aren't fluent in as many languages as I am (fourteen):

Cappadocia with towers so high.
The natural beauty of this land is comparable to my handsome face.
I wish someone would build a statue of me.
A statue as tall as a mountain.

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