..and continuing Day 5, back on the ground.
After a traditional Turkish breakfast (olives, cucumbers and tomato slices, a variety of cheeses, breads, yogurt, honey, jellies and jams of some sort and the occasional egg), we set off to explore the little village of Müstafapaşa: Completely charming, primitive, dirty, and endearing.
We first visited a local wool dyer:
Many of the houses are built on top of each other and into the sides of the hills, creating a sort of road that spiraled upward. Homes boast nothing but the basics, with many of the poorer ones utilizing scraps of tin and metal for roofs. However, almost all of them were equipped with solar panels. Some had small balconies; nearly all had some sort of make-shift garden, whether they be planted in the earth directly, in pots, or in old car tires.
We visited a local woman who makes rugs. Their little girl was adorable and insisted we each pet her cat. The cat was not thrilled.
On our walk we came upon a group of men sitting along the side of the road. I can’t remember if it was something they were wearing or something they were doing so I’m not sure exactly how Cemil (our guide) knew they were in mourning. One of the men’s brother had died that very morning. It is customary when you pass by that you should extend your condolences; he taught us the correct phrase.. “Başınız sağ olsun”…and our entire group shook his hand and tried our best to pronounce it correctly. The burial would be that evening. Muslims believe the dead should be buried as soon as possible. When Cemil’s father passed away many years ago he had to demand they delay it for several hours to allow him time to travel home. They weren’t planning on waiting for him.
We loaded onto the bus and headed for the Göreme Open-Air Museum. During Byzantine times, cave-like churches and monasteries were carved in the cliffs. Some still boasted 1,000 year old frescoes that looked like they were painted only yesterday, in particular the Dark Church. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but I’ve linked to this site which contains some great images.
Back to the bus and onward to our next destination, a real treat: We were invited in by a local woman for a home-prepared, Cappadocian-style lunch. We were welcomed by an adorable pint-sized lady, rocking blue plaid parachute-type pants and a floral head scarf. After washing our hands at the sink outside, we took off our shoes, greeted Fayima (women- a kiss on each cheek; men- a handshake) and entered a room set apart from the rest of the house. It was simply decorated but oozed old-world charm. The windows were adorned with lace curtains and offered spectacular views of her village. Cushioned benches lined three of the walls and the floors were covered in an assortment of rugs- all made by Fayima (I hope I’m remembering/spelling her name correctly). On her walls were old portraits of family, water color paintings, plates and serving platters, and vases of flowers. She bustled back and forth with the help of her daughter and spooned up enormous portions of white beans, rice, lamb, and homemade bread for all twenty-six of us.
I wanted to stuff her in my suitcase and take her home with me. She didn’t speak English but we were able to ask her questions through our guide. Among other things, we found out she had an arranged marriage, thinks that all of America looks like NYC, and had lived in this home for over 50 years. After many, many “Teşekkür ederims” (thank-yous) and hugs, we left her grinning from ear to ear and waving to us from her front door.
The last item on our agenda for the day was a visit to a carpet manufacturer, Carpetium, where we learned about the centuries-old tradition and artistry of Turkish carpet-weaving.
They were excellent salesmen. After taking a tour of facility, they led us into the show room where they immediately offered us beverages – tea, wine, raki…whatever we desired. They seemed to really push those with alcohol… all under the guise of their infamous hospitality, of course. wink wink.
For the next half hour or so we were treated to a dazzling show case of beautiful handmade rugs of all colors, designs, and sizes. And while many of them weren’t something I would want in my home, they were all truly spectacular. I did fall in love with one in particular, a 3×4 all natural lambs wool rug which just so happens to match my couch perfectly. The picture below on the right is the snapshot I took of it that day. They wrapped it up and shipped it to me so I didn’t have to lug it home. It arrived just a few weeks ago actually, and I’m researching the best way to display it on the wall. I’m not about to let anybody walk on this thing!
That evening after dinner at our hotel, we were ushered into an adjacent room for a “surprise”. It turned out to be a troupe of musicians and a rolly-poly man in belly dancing garb, finger cymbals and all, gave us the performance of a lifetime. He danced and bounced and sang in circles, dragging each of us into the center of the circle to join him. His joyous nature was infectious and even the shyest among us (mainly me) were compelled to join in his happy little jig. The evening ended with the entire group dancing and clapping and playing makeshift drums. It was a hoot. Unfortunately the pictures came out a little fuzzy.
Finally. After an exhausting but exhilarating nineteen hour day, we called it a night.