- Departure hotel for Ankara Esenboga Airport (ESB)
- Homebound flights from ESB through Istanbul
Categories : TST 2014 – Group I I
We embarked on our last day by touring Ankara with heavy hearts as we plan to leave this beautifully complex country and more importantly our treasured new Turkish friends…
Once we arrived in Ankara we were treated to a delicious lunch in the Old City of Ankara with stunning views of the city. After lunch we traveled back in time once again during our prehistoric visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. It was incredible seeing the wall paintings and Mother Goddess from Catalhoyuk, which we had visited just days before. Then onto the Mausoleum of Ataturk. This incredible tribute displayed the adoration for the Father of Modern Turkey.
On the way to the hotel we detoured through Kugulu park. Once at the hotel we enjoyed an interesting discussion with the American cultural attaché for Turkey. The highlight of the night was the skit performed by the teachers with Turkish shadow puppets. We were able to show our love and appreciation for TCF, this amazing experience, and mostly for our incredible Turkish friends. We will always remember how they shared their hearts and their works with us.
Victories may yield to continuous outcomes only by an army of education.
This morning I watched the sunrise over Turkey, a truly sublime experience. I awoke before dawn in order to meet the group for a unique opportunity, a hot air balloon ride over the rocky land formations of Cappadocia. They are affectionately known as fairy chimneys. Above the earth we could see for miles, rocky peaks building an idyllic landscape making up a terrain I had never before seen. It was a beautiful site! We shared the sky with many other balloons all rising together to meet the sun as it rose over the peaks. At the end of this journey we toasted to a successful flight with the pilot and landing crew. This was a great experience and one of many highlights on this Turkish adventure.
While some of us saw Cappadochia from the skies, all of us were able to see the gorgeous rock formations of Cappadochia from its tunnels and caverns. Cappadochian lives were carved in the soft rock of geography and remains as a monument to peoples and values who have come before. We visited the Goreme Open Air Museum this morning and saw beautiful icons of early Christianity reminiscent of those at Chora Church in Istanbul. Following Goreme, we saw the underground fortress city of Kaymakli, which served as protection from early Byzantines from Arab invaders circa 500 CE. It was amazing to see how people lived with an underground church, winery, and stable in such extensive, but tight underground quarters. We then saw much of the essence of Turkish culture, which is the process of Turkish carpet making and the importance of the Silk Road. Two weeks of intense cultural immersion led to the sharing of lesson plans, which helped us all on how to bring the lessons of Turkey directly to our classrooms.
After our lunch we continued on the bus in the high Anatolian plain. The difference in the landscape here compared to previous days is remarkable. Orhan narrated the trip with information of the area, including the ancient volcano in the distance that gave this area its unique characteristics. When we got close to Göreme, the land started to resemble giant candle wax drippings, with little doors and windows carved into them where people used to make their homes. We stopped for some Fiji moments looking down on the old cave dwellings (for lack of a better term). In the early 1950s the government encouraged people to leave the homes as they were becoming somewhat unstable…the soft quality that makes this easy to carve also is susceptible to erosion and weakening. So people moved out, but not far; they built homes nearby and used the old dwellings for stables, storage, etc. Our group had a fantastic time maximizing Fuji moments and buying souvenirs, and many of us enjoyed getting to hold a 2-month-old boy whose mother was making and selling gorgeous crocheted jewelry. We made a couple more stops to see these formations more closely; they are to be seen and experienced – words cannot do them justice.
Our neck visit was to Firca Seramik, a local ceramic museum and workshop. Keeping in theme with the day, this museum was also located in a cave. We got a whirlwind tour of the museum, starting with Hittite pottery from 2000 B.C., and ending with viewing pieces by Ismail Yigit. We then got to see artisans at work painting and glazing pieces.
Our last stop of the day was to the Saruhan Caravanserai, which was restored and now serves as a theater of sorts for Whirling Dervish ceremonies. Four musicians and 5 dervishes entered solemnly, and a long haunting chant signaled the beginning of the ceremony. It was mesmerizing to watch the measured bows the dervishes made before they began whirling. Unforgettable!
Caravan to Cappadocia with Hoops and YoYo…
We journeyed from Konya to Cappadocia today along the Aksaray highway which is dotted with caravanserais. It was difficult to leave both the amazing Rixos Hotel with its indoor/outdoor Olympic swimming pools and our new basketball friends that are competing in the U18 European Men’s Championship in Konya. As departure time nears we all pile in to the bus chattering excitedly about our adventures for today. Our first stop is the Sultanhani Caravanserais. This is the largest caravanserai of Turkey built in 1229 by Alattin Keykubat. It is a wonderful example of Anatolian Seljuk architectural design that developed in Central Asia. While having the appearance of a fortresses, caravanserais actually served as the social centers along the many trade routes that crisscross this region. With some amazing pictures our caravan of teachers make our way to Cappadocia. The landscape slowly changes from the level plains of sugar beets and sunflower fields to hillier volcanic lands covered in tuff. The power of wind and water erosion has worked its magic on the country side creating a mystical landscape that seems other worldly. In addition to the natural formations created in the tuff, humans have also added to the striking appearance of this land by carving homes in to these formations. Even pictures cannot help explain the power of wonderment that Cappadocia had on us. The final leg of our journey only adds to the magical spell that has been woven around us. The Whirling Dervishes preformed at the newly restored Saruhan Caravanserai. As fowlers of Rumi a great Turkish poet and mystic the whirling dervishes preform a union between God and earthy life that leaves the audience hypnotized with its grace and beauty.
Down a dusty road outside the city of Konya lies the Neolithic village of Catal Huyuk. We traveled there as the sun was beginning it’s slow descent, local sheep were gathering under the shade of the trees seeking refuge from the heat of the day. It’s was in this setting that we came across this site. At first glance it does not seem significant. No large pillars, no centuries old arches, no marble stones grace this location as a hint of daily life in Roman society as in other sites we explored.
A few buildings, housing for the archeologists, and two tents are all that mark this site. Yet the findings contained within these tents are no less significant. This 9000 year old village was at the crossroads of human history*. People of Anatolia were emerging from their nomadic existence and settling in a permanent place establishing communities based on farming and domestication. Yet, it was not a city.
At Catal Huyuk, what is missing is as important as what was found. There were no clear signs of government leadership, no organized religious practices (although Venus figurines were found in waste areas) no evidence of class divisions based in wealth, no evidence of warfare between or among other peoples. Most importantly the people of Catal Huyuk did not leave behind writings to give answers to our questions. What we are left with is conjecture.
According to Dr. Ian Hodder from Stanford University, Catal Huyuk was a true egalitarian community. People living within a house were not all from the same immediate family. DNA evidence shows that children from other families were sent to live with new families. Parents did not raise their own children. It truly took a village to raise a child in Catal Huyuk.