Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aug 3 cappedocia

Aug 3 Cappadocia
The tours for Cappadocia all start in Goreme. The town is beautiful, with stone cliffs and homes all around the little village. The geologic formations occur due to softer tufa or ash layer from volcanic activity, with harder basalt capping it. As weathering occurred, the basalt tops look like mushroom caps. The area also has a very interesting history, beginning with the Hittites then Persians from before Christ. What interested me was the early Christian community who took refuge here from around 400 AD. Paintings in the caves showed Jesus as a Middle Eastern man with dark hair and eyes and a very kind and gentle expression. He looks more “real” in the cave paintings. Our guide told us that Joseph had a wife before Mary and had 4 brothers, but no one could say what happened to the wives. Did he have two wives? Did the first wife die? Did he have even more wives? All a mystery with women largely ignored or forgotten.

It was really interesting getting to hike the second day, wandering through a streamside canyon with cliff dwellings surrounding the trail reminiscent of the Anasazi. Saw cottonwoods, willow and sycamore as dominant native vegetation. The creek side rich soil was primarily planted with melon, grapes, fig, olive, pear and apricot. The understory reminded me of California with annual grasses, a teasel like plant, white hollyhock, white chicory, lavender aster, a plant that looked like teasel and one that looked like deep blue flowering vipers bug gloss.

It was touching to see such long history of Christians and Muslims living in this area. At first the Christians hid here from the Romans. They co-existed for many centuries with a live and let live attitude, many of the Christians being monks and in retreat. At the end there was a time in Anatolia, around 1924, when the Christians were all considered Greeks and were forcefully evicted and the Muslims in Greece were sent back to Anatolia. Need to find out more about the history. It’s sad when people can no longer live side by side, and World War I in particular deeply divided and fissured the Middle East. No help from Britain, France, Germany and Russia trying to maintain their imperialist empires. When you see the beauty and antiquity of the cave paintings, the faces of the saints and prophets, it’s hard to imagine going from peace and a spiritual life to war. When the Muslims did come into power in the region, they often scratched the faces off angels and paintings so they would not be considered graven images, or worshiped other than Allah. There was one picture of Mary holding baby Jesus with tears running down her face, her pretience of her son’s life causing her grief even in her birth. Maybe all mothers fear their children’s suffering and eventual death, wanting to protect them from all harm and all hurt, and being unable to.
There were large underground cave cities, as a way for early societies to hide from their enemies. I found out I was claustrophobic and could only go to four rooms and then had to go to the surface. Fortunately, there was a puppy to hold and play with while I waited. My room was at the bottom floor of an ancient stone house, and was made of stone. I also felt closed in, hot and claustrophobic in my room and was really ready to leave.
I don’t like being a tourist, with tours and large groups of people. I’m sure the claustrophobia in the caves was from large numbers of people crowded together. While I liked Cappadocia and felt my tour was adequate, I don’t like being herded in large groups. I would have loved to hike the canyon alone (which I did in a way through lagging behind) and feel ing the cave paintings and ancient worship and sacred nature of these caves unadulterated by the energy of so many people, so much noice, so much irreverent energy

No comments:

Post a Comment