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Dust and Color

Colors of Petra

We were thrilled to be able to spend time with Cody and Vanessa in Amman.  We were excited to be back towards the Middle East and to add another country to our list.  We were looking forward to exploring a new cuisine.  And after seeing Venice and Berlin, we really had to finish off our Last Crusade set list with a visit to Petra.

Djinn Block

Tony in the Siq

Canyon light

Canyon colors

Chariot in the canyon

First glimpse of The Treasury

The Treasury

The Treasury

Donkey friend

Cave homes

Bedouin and donkeys

Tony takes a picture

 

Bedouin minstrel at High Place of Sacrifice

Tony's Ebeneezer

Alicia in her tree

Garden Tomb

Soldier Tomb

More color

All the colors

This guy invited us to tea.

Green valley

We spent eighteen hours over two days hiking the dusty canyons, declining incessant four-legged taxi offers, climbing to the high places in the blazing sun and making our own way through the wilderness to sit and finally understand the phrase deafening silence.  At night, we stayed at a Bedouin camp, stuffed ourselves with our only square meal of the day and drank sugary sage tea by the fire.

Inside our tent at Seven Wonders Bedouin Camp

View from our tent

Dinner

7 am

Our second morning was November 7.  As we walked through the kitsch gauntlet at the main entrance, we heard an Arabic radio station say a name we recognized: Obama.  We did an about-face and asked the vendor what the news was.  He paused a moment to find the right English word. “Obama… fortune.”  We hadn’t expected to hear the results until we returned to Amman.  Just a few days earlier we were able to vote by email, thanks to Jordan being on a list of special countries where absentee voting doesn’t require you to obtain and mail back a paper ballot.

Colonnaded Street

Lion Triclinium

Palace Tomb

Goats on a cliff

Sami's stable

Monastery from afar

Destination Unknown

After spending the morning hiking the 900 steps up to the Monastery and back, we ran into a retired Taiwanese couple from Flint, Michigan that we had met the day before. We decided to hike together for most of the day, taking a back trail that would overlook the Treasury. I’m pretty sure by the end of it WE were the ones keeping up with THEM. We had many good conversations and wished we had exchanged contact info!

Alicia and Yvonne

Alicia and Yvonne at the top

four Americans

Sami, one of the many Bedouins who actually live in Petra, makes his home at the very end of the trail.  He made us tea while we played with his kitten.  He showed us a photo album and told stories of racing horses, hunting with his falcon, and about the off-limits trails that only the local people know. Sometimes he climbs straight down the ledge which gets him to the Treasury in five minutes (instead of the long way around which takes an hour).

Sami

Confusion the cat

It happened to be one of the few times all year that we remembered to bring our small binoculars with us and remembered to actually use them.  Sami asked to borrow them and leaped to the edge of the drop-off.  Of course he didn’t look at the Treasury; he sees it all day.  Instead, he looked far off in the distance to try to spot his friend who tends goats at the top of another mountain.The binoculars were going to get way more use with this guy, and we’re always looking to lighten our packs, so we left them with Sami, along with our thanks for one of our favorite memories this year.

Sami's binoculars

(Watch our quick video from Petra)

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Dec 2012
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A Few More Photos from Cappadocia

A rug emporium in Göreme
A rug emporium in Göreme

Icky Kitty
Icky Kitty

Neighborhood hens
Neighborhood hens

Firkatan Kilisesi
Firkatan Kilisesi


Firkatan Kilisesi (chapel)

Tony in the dovecote
Firkatan Kilisesi (dovecote)

Firkatan Kilisesi (tunnel)

Exploring Rose Valley
Exploring Rose Valley

Rose Valley trail
Rose Valley trail

Another chapel
Another chapel

Inside the chapel
Inside

13
Aug 2012
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Hasan’s Tea Garden

-or-

The Day We Went For a Long Hike, Met Some Narcoleptic Turtles,
and Hitched a Ride Back to Town With the Turkish Air Force.

Pigeon Valley

On our second-to-last day in Cappadocia, we decided to hike from Göreme (the town our hostel was in) to Uçhisar via Pigeon Valley. Things started off rough. We lingered too long over breakfast and didn’t get started until just before noon. There was no breeze, the sun was hotter than ever, and despite the fact that we were in one of the most beautiful places on earth, we were both a little grumpy.

Turtle housing crisis

Pigeon Valley

Pigeon Valley

A tiny stream

Eventually, the discovery of a little stream, some shade, and the stillness of the valley softened us. Pigeon Valley is a beautiful place.

Tony

Pigeon Valley

A little meadow

Pigeon Valley

Tony hikes in Pigeon Valley

About three-quarters of the way to Uçhisar, we saw a cardboard sign that read Hasan Tea Garden. Now, the last thing you want towards the end of a long and sweaty hike is a hot glass of tea. But when you are on said long and sweaty hike and a shack with benches and cushions and a man with a teapot appears out of nowhere, you stop.

We were still out of breath from the last pitch and Hasan intercepted us before we sat down. His face was expressionless. “You have reservation?” We stared at him blankly for a moment, and then his eyes crinkled and the three of us laughed together. He served us tea and little cookies and a dish of peanuts. The sparrows fearlessly begged for some treats, so we crumbled some of the nuts and tossed them at our feet.

Hasan

Tea time

sparrows

When we finished our tea, Hasan asked us if we had seen any turtles. We said that we saw a turtle shell earlier in the day, but no live turtles. “I have turtle. She sleeping.” He motioned for us to follow him. He brought us to a tree that had a ladder leading up to a platform with a pink blanket on top. “Turtle sleeping. You look.”

Uh huh.

He herded a thoroughly skeptical Tony towards the ladder, and as soon as he started up the rungs, Hasan turned to me and pointed excitedly at my camera. I waited for Tony to gingerly lift up the corner of the blanket.

The turtles

Hilarious

Hasan was very pleased with himself. He generously sent us back on the trail with one of his turtle’s “babies.”

A present from Hasan

Uçhisar

The landscape smoothed out into soft pink ripples as we approached the top of the valley. We finally reached Uçhisar. We stood in the sun at the main road and realized we hadn’t checked the bus schedule. Not a big problem. Since we had just hiked uphill the entire way to Uçhisar, the road back to Göreme would be an easy descent.

We hadn’t gotten very far when we saw a blue van pull off at a scenic overlook, and some men in blue camouflage and berets got out to take photos of the valley and of each other. We said hello and exchanged the usual friendly “where are you from”s and continued on our way. A few minutes later, the van pulled up alongside us, the side door slid open, and the man in the front passenger seat offered us a ride.

The one who spoke the best English told us they were members of the Turkish Air Force on their way to report for duty. This was three days after Syria shot down one of Turkey’s fighter planes. We weren’t sure if it was related to that or not, but we didn’t bring it up. And we didn’t take any photos. They laughed and joked to each other the whole way and dropped us off a few blocks from our hostel. We wished them good luck, headed back to our cave bunks, and spent the rest of the afternoon in the swimming pool.

-A

Shoestring Cave Pension

Shoestring Cave Pension

Shoestring Cave Pension

(Here’s a panoramic of Pigeon Valley.)

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Aug 2012
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Hiking with Brooks in Zelve

We had been looking forward to going to Cappadocia since before we even sold our house. We saw a photo and, in our best Liz Lemon impersonations said, “I want to go to there.” So we did. After a few days orienting ourselves in Trabzon, we took a night bus to Göreme, in the very center of Turkey. (The night bus itself is another story for another time.)

Göreme

Nazar boncuğu (amulet to protect against the

Besides the epic hot air balloon ride at dawn, we also were able to get our Indiana Jones on. We hiked through dusty canyons and scorched ridge lines and felt our skin cringe and shrivel under the relentless sun. We climbed up and into and through only a few dozen of what must be thousands and thousands of cave homes and churches carved into the soft and strangely eroded volcanic rock. It was exhausting and exhilarating and we always stumbled back to our hostel completely filthy.

An olive bush above Rose Valley

Hands

A ruined church

Wildflowers near Goreme

Wildflowers near Goreme

Tony and Brooks meet

On one of our hikes near Rose Valley, I had wandered off to stare at some wildflowers, as I am wont to do, and when I returned to the spot where I left Tony, he had already made friends with Brooks From Atlanta. We took each others’ photos and exchanged email addresses and went our separate ways. Later that evening, Brooks saw us having dinner in town and we made plans to meet up the following day and hike through the abandoned cave city of Zelve.

Zelve was inhabited by Muslims and Christians (mostly simultaneously) for over 1,500 years before the citizens were evacuated from their increasingly unstable cave homes in the 1950s. Today you can hike through the three valleys on the nice government-installed footpath, or you can be a little more intrepid and blaze your own trail.

Brooks and Tony starting our hike in the abandoned cave city of Zelve.

Starred Agama lizard.  (I think.)

The little holes across the valley on the right are dove cotes.

Other than the sunbathing lizards and the flocks of swallows and martins zipping through the air like mini fighter jets, we mostly had the whole place to ourselves.

Zelve

Brooks

The ladder cut into the rock has worn away to almost nothing.

More dove cotes.  We read that the entrances were decorated to attract the doves.

Inside a dwelling

Climbing up

The red shorts are the source of his power

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-WWKBMT93YZc/T-NwV8g_ixI/AAAAAAAAJLQ/1L-WjjjgBy8/s800/IMG_5953.JPG

Spider friend

A tree grows from the ceiling

See the light at the end of the tunnel?  You don't want to know how they got up there.

Tony and Brooks find another ladder to climb

We're the best three friends that anybody can have…

Ladder

As you are reading this, Brooks From Atlanta is now Brooks From New York City, since he just moved there to go to law school. It’s so great when we cross paths with people who can share our adventures with us for a day or two. Those are the best days of all.

-A

12
Aug 2012
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