the center of the city
) and as the muezzin began calling out for prayer, the bus suddenly stopped and it was time to disembark, with a fictional arrow cutting towards another journey from which I didn't quite know where to begin. With the puzzled illustrations on the faces of the other passengers aboard reflective of my own, I had no idea what to do or where to go but the driver had already abandoned ship and so it were, my path now laid out somehow bleak and
promising all at once.
So as the crowd of us all sort of shuffled in circles, there was a little old man meandering between us muttering "taxi" (eyes squinting) with a smoke flanked by his lips
. I couldn't help notice and I couldn't stop laughing, so after the others just ignored him, I settled on proper. I answered his calling and then followed his lead, along a busy narrow street (and) a few doors beyond, where his tattered blonde taxi lay asleep in an alley. The door handle was broken and the engine was stubborn. The astonishing stares from (even) the locals had me a little skeptical (no doubt), but I sat up front as he lit another smoke, pumping the gas and swearing (I'd guess) until she sputtered and choked on her own black smoke. Soon we were blazing the cobbled streets en route to Goreme (about a twenty-minute drive) where my reservations had been made nearly four months earlier. The car continued along the country roads, the hood bouncing madly up and down as the gears mulishly slipped back into neutral. All the while, an enormous gulp of laughter laid eager to escape the threshold of my belly. This was about perfect for me (I'd prefer it no other way), a rightful beginning to (another) day of unknowing.
Eventually we arrived at the hotel and said our farewells, but when I walked up the stairs and spoke to the man at the counter, apparently my reservations didn't survive the transition of management that had taken place a few weeks earlier. He told me that it was likely that I was now to be staying at the Travel Inn Cave Hotel a little further down the street. Rather than getting annoyed I just thanked him and followed his directions instead
. Upon arrival, I cleared up the confusion by speaking with Suleyman (the manager) and he showed me the room. A cozy little nest not lacking some nice amenities but not over the top, and at eighty lira a night (about fifty US dollars), it suited me right. There was a very nice rooftop terrace overlooking the village, as well as a small bar inside the hotel if one so chose to stay inside and sip on some local wines. After a few minutes of checking the place out and grabbing a map from the lobby, I strolled over to a coffee shop for my first cappuccino of the trip. Along the way I had walked past a scooter rental shop called Oz Cappadocia, and my plan all along had been to attempt to tour this region in such a manner. I finished my cup and walked around for some time, until I became happily fraught to locate a bike to adopt. Naturally drawn to the ones I had passed, it didn't take long before I met up with Isa (the manager of Oz) and started shaking his hand. He invited me into his office for a cup of apple tea while discussing the pricing and so forth. When he learned for how long I had planned to rent one, he gave me a deal (or so he said, and that was good enough for me). Within fifteen minutes or so, I was somewhat cautiously (for a little while anyway) roving the village. Another (ridiculous and) nameless tourist shamelessly pretending to blend in. Nevertheless, it didn’t really matter, I was simply happy to finally be...remembering why I came.
From there, the following six days can actually be summed up rather easily. My new boots had become a little softer, and a little more worn. They had been dragged (used like training wheels) through the muds and sands of valleys and trails that I had once never imagined having the chance to explore. I hiked along hills of ancient caves and tunnels and rock-cut churches that were triumphant in rendering me into a state of wonder (and) without words. I overindulged in teas and wines and pottery kebabs. I spent nearly seven hours in the open-air museum at Zelve, and hid in a cave while a brief rain passed overhead. I raced children in the streets of Avanos after getting lost. I climbed the Uchisar Castle and then took a nap at the base of it while Turkish police were watching curiously above. I drove the wrong way down a one-way street in Urgup, ate some cheese and then walked it off. Even with the tourist buses abound the region, it never appeared too congested, and by simply turning off onto an unmarked road (from time to time), I was still able to ruse (and satisfy) my mind into wondering if perhaps I wasn't one of the first to have ever uncovered this all before. It was relaxed, unhurried, scenic, and memorable...the people too. Whether it were locals part of the tourist industry or not, or the majority of tourists themselves, it all (almost effortlessly) made perfect sense
. While there are a fairly ample amount of things to do and see, it doesn't really force it upon you. (Meaning that) the region (and the towns within it) are seemingly exempt from the hustle and bustle of big city movement - where it's entirely okay to roam aimlessly around like a child exploring the landscape (of an endless playground) OR to just be there, lost in thought (or a book), or doing absolutely nothing. For a place capable of conjuring such an array of musings and satisfactions, I would consider it nearly improbable for anyone not to find theirs, here
Honestly, at first I didn't get it. The delicately-wrapped swimming soul that was my own, still struggling for breath after the extended spell of another Afghan winter had finally passed. So now after only an hour of sleep (and a brief flight from Istanbul), I was boarding a free shuttle to the city center of Nevsehir (meaning literally,