Day 25 Part 2: The rest of the day in Cappadocia

Posted: August 15, 2014 in Cappadocia, Goreme
Tags: , , , ,

After hot-air ballooning, Marie and I headed back to the hotel and let Caitlin (who was still sleeping) know that the balloon hadn’t crashed and that we had survived… I think she mumbled something along the lines of “that’s good” or maybe it was “go away and let me sleep.” In any case, we decided to let her sleep a little longer so Marie went and found a comfy lounge chair in the sun to catch up on her emails while I went to the restaurant and had some tea and worked on the blog and sorted pictures from the trip. Eventually we figured that Caitlin needed food more than sleep so we woke her up and we all headed up for the hotel’s breakfast… Marie and I figured that since we were staying in a cave hotel which is really a hole in the ground, we could act like hobbits and have second breakfast… We were earlier this morning so Efe was there to make some scrambled eggs (as promised) for Caitlin and I tried some Menemen ( a mixture of tomatoes, peppers, scrambled eggs and spices… It was delicious!

After breakfast, it was time for showers and getting cleaned up and then up and out for our last day of adventures in Cappadocia. First up, we rented a scooter (for me) and a quad (for Caitlin and Marie) and went for a 1 hour tour of some of the valleys around Goreme. It was a ton of fun as we bombed around on some of the backroads around the town and checked out some of the valleys and sights… There wasn’t much of a “tour” but it was a lot of fun driving the bikes and Marie and Caitlin got a kick of the ATV… especially Marie’s tendency to close her eyes whenever they went down a steep hill.

After our motorbike tour,  it was time to grab some lunch. We picked a place where you lounge on little sofas instead of sitting at chairs and a table… It was quite comfy and the food was decent and lounging on the sofas felt quite decadent.The only complaint was the flies… They were brutal and we ended up bailing out sooner than we would have liked because they were driving us crazy (mainly Caitlin who does this whole spastic seizure thing every time a fly touches her).

After lunch, Marie and Caitlin went souvenir shopping while I went to find a traditional barber for my straight-razor shave. What an experience that was… As I walked up to the barbershop, there’s three guys sitting outside on the bench smoking… One of them gets up and seeing the 6 days of growth on my chin makes a shaving motion (or maybe it was a throat-slitting motion… it was hard to tell) and gestures for me to follow him inside… He points to a chair and gestures for me to sit… So I do. As I settle in the chair, a younger guy (an assistant or apprentice perhaps) comes over with a  tin cup with a bar of soap in it and they drape a couple of towels over me covering me from neck to crotch (this concerns me a little… I mean how messy is this going to be?).

Once I’m all covered up, the barber starts the process of lathering me up for the shave… This is apparently an art in itself as he lathers up the brush and covers my face in thick creamy soap at least 5 times… I can’t see anything without my glasses on but by the time he’s done lathering my face, I must look like Santa Claus… Then he pulls out the straight razor and gets down to business… One of the main reasons I’m doing this straight-razor thing is because of a story I teach in my Grade 11 English classes – “Just Lather, That’s All” (some of you might remember it from when you were in high-school). It’s a story about a barber with revolutionary leanings who, while shaving the face of a ruthless counter-revolutionary leader, contemplates slitting the throat of the man while he is helpless in the chair… I’ve never had a straight-razor shave so thought I should experience one to get more out of the story… Let’s just say there were a few moments where I was sitting in the chair, head tilted back, throat exposed thinking of the barber in that story…

There was nothing to worry about… A few deft strokes and the job was done. Then he’s lathering me up and doing it all over again to make sure he got all the whiskers… Then the rest of the experience starts… First he pulls out the scissors and trims my hairline and sideburns and makes sure that everything is neat and tidy. Then he pulls out a plastic tub and carefully pulls the lid off and grabs a paint brush and proceeds to slather the contents all over my face… Then heads out for a smoke… At first I’m thinking this is just something they do to make the tourists look stupid… after all I’m sitting there with what amounts to a face mask on… Until I see another guy (an obvious local) come back inside with his face all painted up as well… After about 15 minutes this stuff has hardened to the consistency of a plaster cast and has burned all the remaining hair (and a goodly portion of skin) off my face… Finally the barber returns and bends me over the little sink in front of the chair and washes it all off… I’m sure this technique is where the CIA got its inspiration for water-boarding… Then he pulls out a roll of thread and puts one end in his teeth and then makes a complicated “cats’ cradle” type string thing with his hands… Which he then scissors back and forth over my nose and cheeks and forehead… The net effect of this threading process is to pull out any small hairs left on my face… It brings tears to my eyes… Then he pulls out a pair of electric clippers and trims my eyebrows, nose hairs, ears and neck… Then it’s a pair of scissors up the nose to get the hairs halfway between my nostrils and my brain… Then he pulls out a long piece of wire with a cotton ball at the end and dips it in the solution they use to sterilize the combs… Apparently that’s so he can then light it on fire and whack it against my ears to get the hairs the clippers couldn’t reach… Gotta say, I wasn’t expecting to have my ears lit on fire today… And yes, yes it does burn a little…

Then it’s time for a massage… Which basically consists of him pinching and twisting and jabbing his fingers into my shoulders, neck and back… It was not relaxing… Nor was the arm massage he gave which consisted of a couple of “rope burns” (you remember those from elementary school… grab a person’s forearm with both hands and then twist your hands in opposite directions…)… After beating the crap out of me for a couple minutes, it was time to slather on a final “cleansing” and “cooling” lotion… Not really… basically he pours about a gallon of what – judging from the way it stung – must have been pure rubbing alcohol on my freshly shaved, clipped, threaded and “massaged” face… To say it stung a little would be an understatement… In all the process took about 40 minutes and left me feeling pretty squared away and tidied up… Although as far as the shave went, I found it was about as smooth as I can get from a shave with one of the fancy 5 blade razors I usually use…

After the shave it was back to the hotel with enough time to change my clothes before my ride arrived to take me for my sunset ATV tour…

At the ATV place, I was given a hair net (to wear under the helmet) and a German soldier style helmet and sent out to pick a quad from a lineup of about 15 bikes… We got about 5 minutes of “this makes you go… this makes you stop…” instructions and were told repeatedly to “keep 5 metres between next rider” and then headed out for our 2.5 hr tour… It was fun. We bombed around on the bikes over a bunch of backroads and through some of the valleys until we ended up at Love Valley for the sunset… The only downside to the whole experience was the dust… It wasn’t bad if you were near the front of the line of quads but at the back it was brutal… Especially when you have people who think it’s fun to zig-zag back and forth creating huge clouds of dust for anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck behind them… And the ride back was even dustier as there must have been 100 quads from various companies gathered at Love Valley to watch the sunset… In all though, it was a good time.

While I was quadding, Marie and Caitlin went horseback riding…

This is Caitlin’s version of what occurred…

I thought horse back riding would be a really good idea. So I went into this imagining a beautiful horse, a beautiful sunset and hopefully a beautiful cowboy that happened to look just like Hugh Jackman’s character from Australia. I also thought that the riding would be easy because I had ridden twice before, albeit this was when I was very young, but I figured it would be just like riding a bike. Well I was partially right about what happened… The horse was definitely beautiful, I read in the Lonely Planet that the owner of the ranch (Dalton Brothers) trained wild horses and there is no question that they are well cared for. The sunset was also absolutely gorgeous. They took us up to the top of a rock castle where there was a nice viewpoint and gave us about thirty minutes to explore. Mom and I were told by one of the guides that there was a rock church just down the hill so we set off to find it trying to follow his mumbled instructions of down there and left…or right. We couldn’t find it and didn’t want to run out of time so we turned back and realized that in five minutes we had gotten lost. Only my mother and I could get lost going back the way we came but somehow we did and spent a couple minutes scratching our heads and looking around but we eventually made it up to the top. The next part was the highlight of the whole trip for me. THERE WERE PUPPIES!!! 1 MONTH OLD PUPPIES!!! They were quite possibly the cutest things alive (with the exception of my dog Ladybug, she’s obviously the cutest thing alive and we miss her and love her) and at 1 month were very content to be picked up and played with. The people that owned them/looked after them/used them as pick up lines on unsuspecting female tourists that just want to play with puppies said they were the only ones left from a litter of seven. Anyways they were cute and provided a nice happy thing for me to think about for the rest of our interesting journey. So now I was right about two things from my little ranch fantasy but on the other two…not so much. The “turkish cowboy” looked nothing like Hugh Jackman and spoke no English. Every time I panicked he would look back and go “ok, no problem” and then resume chain smoking. Now I think I might be being a little unfair because he was actually pretty safety conscious and good with the horses but it would have been nice to have a guide that was able to explain where we were and who could speak/understand a little bit of English in the event of a problem. None of this would have been a problem however, if I had been right about riding horses being like riding a bike. We had explained to the owner of our hotel that we had very little experience and that we hoped that it wouldn’t be a problem. His response was that it should be fine and he would make sure they gave us nice horses…or a donkey… Halfway through the ride, I began to regret not asking for a donkey. When we got to the ranch they put me up on the horse, gave me the reins and said left is left, right is right and pull is stop and then we were off. Now let me get one thing straight, horses are tall and that means when you ride them you are a long ways from the ground and I’m very much afraid of heights. So right now I have no clue how to steer the horse, it feels nothing like I remembered from the safe little trail rides I did when I was eight and I am swaying in a saddle that would never pass Canadian safety standards and we are going up and down steep little trails that if the horse steps wrong it’s going down with me on top. Long story short, I was terrified. At first, I thought I just needed to get used to it but after twenty minutes of the horse going wherever it wanted (it was really hungry and kept wandering off to eat) I was almost ready to get down and walk. However, after the umpteenth time of the horse leaving the trail and me panicking, the guide either got fed up with having to stop or felt really bad for me and got down and attached a rope to the horse that he held for the rest of the ride. This helped a lot; however, I never felt really comfortable until we were back at the ranch two hours later and I was safely on the ground. Now I realize that I’m making this sound a bit like the horse ride from Hell, however, I actually really enjoyed the experience and it was a great way to see Goreme and the fairy chimneys and I would like to try riding again although maybe at home…with a guide that speaks english…and maybe on a pony…or a donkey!

This is Marie’s version of what happened:

So here’s what really happened during Caitlin and Marie’s most excellent horseback riding adventure in Goreme, Turkey. Caitlin and I had been really looking forward to horseback riding long before we left Canada. So the day arrived on the heels of Caitlin recovering from having her first ever bout of traveller’s illness. But the lure of the horses helped her improve. The company we choose, based on the various online reviews, Dalton Brother’s, came and picked us up from our Pensuine, private car nonetheless, just for the two of us. This was a good start considering the very small number of recent reviews that weren’t exactly glowing from previous participants (like the horses threw five riders during one group’s ride, or the trails were too narrow and steep for the horses and riders to handle). Having read those prior to heading out did create a wee pause and question of what we had got ourselves into, however, the staff at the Pensuine had recommended them and they hadn’t steered us wrong yet. 

We arrived at the little ranch just past 4:30 pm after a very short ride. It looked at first like it was just going to be Caitlin and I but then we chatted with a newlywed couple from France who were the only other riders. The guy was clearly nervous. They handed us the same baseball style helmets we used previously that afternoon for ATV’ing and showed us to our new four legged best friends for the next 2+ hours. 

Other than my saddle looking like it came from Toys’r’Us (you know the clear plastic kind that go with the plastic horse!).  It had a cover on it, not entirely sure what it was made of, and no saddle horn to hoist oneself up and down with or to hang on to.   As we started out with me behind the guide and Caitlin behind me, all was going well, until the guide looks back and says, “from Afganistan, no English.” It was going to be an interesting ride…

So I’m happily riding along and I look back to check on Caitlin and ask her how she’s doing. To my utter shock (because she was so pumped and excited to be doing this prior to actually getting on the horse) I see a statue frozen in utter terror, that mostly resembles my daughter, holding the reins of the horse in a death grip, which of course is giving her poor horse whip lash, preventing it from seeing where to step because Caitlin’s grip has the horse’s head looking straight up into the sky. I ask her if she is okay and I receive a very feeble “not sure, it’s kinda high up here”. 

It will help put things into context to know that before we left we asked the owner of the Pensiune to let the driver know we were inexperienced riders.  We chatted for a few minutes with them and the owner jokingly suggested to Caitlin that she ride a donkey. At one point during the actual trail ride I heard Caitlin say “they should have given me a donkey”. 

Very early on into the ride Caitlin’s horse decided she was tired of the view of the sky and decided to take charge and put her head down and forage for food. This caused Caitlin some concern. I asked the guide to stop as Caitlin’s horse was going to show Caitlin who the boss was and start to walk off the trail and up the side of a wee mountain. I tried to motion to the guide that she was nervous and he finally understood and hooked a lead rope to Caitlin’s horse and they walked together in tandem. This helped immensely.

About an hour later we got to the top of a viewpoint, dismounted (my butt was very sore) and Caitlin announced she was walking back.   We milled around the viewpoint for half an hour, played with adorable one month old puppies, took some pics, had a good laugh when Caitlin and I managed to get ourselves a wee bit turned around on a very short trail while looking for an old cave church one of the guides suggested we go see. The path had two directions, once we walked the 20 feet to it from where we left the horses, you then turned left or right. We choose left, didn’t find the church, and then overshot the steps to go back up.  Caitlin said “don’t tell dad!”  Clearly, Caitlin and I have the odd navigational challenge. 

After the puppy therapy Caitlin had found her zen place again and was able to get back on the horse. The ride down was good, Caitlin’s horse seemed to have forgiven her for the previous whiplash and we made it back all in one piece. My “Toys’r’Us” saddle provided me with the most colourful bruise and pretty amazing swelling on my butt, however, it was totally worth it.


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