Monday, September 15, 2008
This is going to need a few posts, because I just returned from one of the coolest places I have EVER been, and I have lots of great photos to share. Twenty-five of us teachers rented a bus service to drive us to Cappadocia for the weekend. (I win out of all the new teachers for being here 4 weekends, and going away each and every one of them. I told the director of the school today that I don't need to rest on the weekends; that I go to work to rest. I soon realized that he is probably not the best person to say that to, but since I met him, I'd say 90% of what comes out of my mouth is of the foot-in-the-mouth nature. For some reason, his presence causes me to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.)
Anyway, Cappadocia: an awesome landscape bearing an ingenious relationship between people and nature. I aliken it to the Badlands, SD meeting the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings of the southwest. Brief history: Three volcanoes erupted a LONG time ago, depositing meters and meters (yes, I have gone metric) of ash that compressed over time into soft sandstone. Water and wind erosion ate away at the sandstone, leaving behind buttes, hills, and phallic looking pinnacles. Then came the people. Anatolia (or present day Turkey) was the most vital center of Christianity for a long time, until a 300-year period of Arab raids. The inhabitants responded to the turbulence with the coolest idea ever: they carved out little homes into the "fairy chimneys" as they're presently called, making the entrances high up so that they could only be reached by ladder which could be pulled up in case of a battle. In the plains, the Christians dug underground cities, but I haven't seen them yet. In Cappadocia, they took to the hills, and carved over 1000 churches into their communities during the 6th and 11th century AD. The iconoclastic controversy (700-800 AD) forbade sacred images from being depicted in churches, but the churches built before this time period had the most beautiful images painted on the ceilings.
My favorite was St. Onophrius, a hermit who lived in the Egyptian desert in the fourth and fifth centuries, eating only dates, with a leaf loincloth for cover. Of course, the Cappadocian Christians would worship a hermit. He was originally a woman, and a temptress at that. When she repented her sultry ways and asked to be delivered from the desires of men, she was granted her wish and received a beard. You can see on the frescoe, she kept the boobs.
These photos were all taken in the town of Göreme in the Open Air Museum.