Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Expedition in Cappadocia
A pro of traveling to an uncommon place for study abroad is that the people in my program are unique and come from around the world. We have kids coming from Ireland, Poland, Hong Kong, Sweden, France, Italy, Azerbaijan, California, and many more places. There is something to be said for surrounding yourself with people from around the world and talking about politics, religion, and well life in general.
Two weekends ago I traveled to the beautiful and extremely old region of Cappadocia in the Anatolia region with 75 of my closest exchange peeps. I really had no idea of what to expect from this trip and only had a vague idea of what Cappadocia even looked like. Boy was I blown away. To begin our trip I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and got onto a VERY cold bus, so cold I couldn’t feel my lower extremities until we got there (Cappadocia is about a 5 hour bus ride East of Ankara). Upon arriving in the morning at about 9:00 my exploring expedition began. Here's a little bit o history for ya--
Basically the fairy chimneys and structures that Cappadocia is famous for were created by volcanic eruptions over the past several thousand years. Early civilizations (Hittites) and eventually the Christians in the 14th Century, carved into these volcanic structures to create homes and Monasteries to practice Christianity in without persecution.
The fairy chimneys and structures themselves were absolutely breathtaking. They looked like sand castle sculptures, or like frozen soft-serve ice cream with sand rubbed on them. They were Real tight. The weather was nice enough that I was able to enjoy walking through the snow and admire these natural wonders. When I touched the homes, it felt like I was touching time and history all at once.
Other things we did on the trip--- eat badass food (traditional Turkish)—On Saturday night we had a “Turkish Night” where we ate lots of yummy food and watched Whirling Dervishes spin and spin and spin. But apparently these weren’t real dervishes, just ones for show. After they stopped spinning there were very entertaining Turkish dancers that came out and performed for us. Let’s just say Turkish people can move their bodies… especially the belly dancer! It was like her hips were disconnected from the rest of her body—crazy. The dancers continued to perform every couple of songs while the audience enjoyed the massive amount of beverages that were distributed. It was a beautiful thing.
The next day we went and saw some more sites around Cappadocia and went wine tasting at Turasan Winery which makes Cappadocian wine with grapes from the Anatolian region. The whole trip was fun, but my favorite place we went was Guray Seramik--- aka Guray Ceramics. We went to the Guray family studio and showroom that displayed thousands of ceramic bowls, cups, plates, and sculptures. The Guray family has been in the ceramic business for hundreds of years. The forms made come from the family tradition and consists of many sun references. The main concept of there glaze designs stem from one singular or central point. Family and heritage are the most important values, and that idea comes from the center and revolves around oneself (or something along those lines). The coolest thing was that they make their clay from the soil that only exists in the Cappadocian mountains. The clay felt so soft and fine, almost like a sticky porcelain with a deep redish-brown tone. The glazes they use are mostly underglazes with a clear coating on top, although they sometimes use glazes fired at a higher temperature. The boy that gave the throwing demonstration was only 18 years old and had been throwing for over six years---- ahhh so cool!
Ok enough—the trip was sweet and the Guray place offered me an internship!--- (my cynical self says of course they’d love an American chick who speaks no Turkish for a summer)