Friday, November 21, 2014

The Magical Cappadocia

During our road trip, we stopped for a few days in Cappadocia. Wow, what a magical place!

Cappadocia is heavily salt'n'peppered with these interesting "fairy chimney" rock formations. All sorts of cave homes and churches, some hundreds of years old, have been carved into the rocks.

A view from a cave window.

Izmir, A Hamam, Ankara, & The Salt Lake

Ferit had arrived at a good pausing point in designing his family's home, so we were ready to embark on our road trip.

As Ferit and his mom needed to tend to some matters in Acipayam, Alaattin, and Izmir, our road trip began with a visit to these three locations.

On our drive from Alaattin to Izmir, we stopped for a picnic at a roadside playground.
Left to right: My mom, Ferit's mom, and Ferit.

While Ferit and his mom took care of some business in Izmir, my mom and I had some time to explore the third largest city in Turkey.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ghost Town & The Blue Lagoon

One afternoon we drove to see the ghost town at Kayaköy. The town, located on a mountainside, has a very interesting history.

Kayaköy -- the ghost town.

You may recall from my Hanging Out in Thessaloniki post that we visited the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk when we passed through Greece. At Atatürk's birthplace, I learned about the compulsory population exchange that occurred shortly after the Republic of Turkey was established. As part of the exchange, the Muslim population living in Greece was exchanged with the Greek Orthodox population leaving in Turkey. The purpose of the exchange was to achieve ethnic-national homogeneity.

Hanging Around Fethiye

My mom came to visit Turkey for two and a half weeks in October and November. Prior to her visit, my mom thought Turkey was all about scarved people riding camels across deserts. I think it's safe to say that my mom's visit provided her initial thoughts to be rather inaccurate.

The original plan was to take a road trip with my mom around Eastern Turkey, a place that neither Ferit nor I had yet visited. Alas, about a week before my mom's arrival, we started receiving emails from the US Embassy advising US citizens to use extreme caution when traveling to the east; there had been demonstrations related to the fighting in Syria, and some of the demonstrations had resulted in casualties.

Given that we'd be traveling in an automobile with German plates, it'd be quite obvious that we were foreigners. And given that the automobile was a BMW, it'd look as though we were rich foreigners. We decided it best to take our road trip in central Turkey instead.

But before we could leave for our trip, Ferit had some work to do. He had been designing a new family home to be built in the village of Alaattin, and he needed to get to a certain point in the design process before he could slip away for the road trip.

For about a week, Ferit plugged away on his home designs while my mom and I kept ourselves busy in Fethiye, the coastal town where Ferit's mom lives. Fortunately, Ferit was able to peel himself away from his work in the evenings to serve as our tour guide.

Ferit, hard at work designing his family's home in the village.

My Bayram Mission: Save the Goat

[NOTE: This post contains graphic photos of an animal sacrifice. Sensitive readers should exercise caution.]

As mentioned in a previous post, in early October we travelled to the village of Alaattin to celebrate the Kurban Bayram ("Sacrifice Holiday"). This is a four-day Muslim holiday during which the sacrifice feast is celebrated.

There are some stories that I vaguely remember from my vacation bible school days. The story of Abraham is one of them. As described in the Old Testament, Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his first-born son, Isaac, as an act of faith and submission. Abraham brought Isaac to the alter. But before Abraham brought the knife to his son, God replaced Abraham's son with a lamb. An animal was sacrificed in lieu of Abraham's son.

The story of Abraham is the same in the Koran, though Abraham is called "Ibrahim" and Isacc's son is named "Ishmael." During the Kurban Bayram, Muslims sacrifice animals to commemorate the Prophet Abraham and his devotion to God.

We acted out the upcoming animal sacrifice.
I am the unlucky animal. 

The Kurban Bayram is about community, visiting family and friends. It's also about charity, giving clothing and food (including a portion of the sacrificed animal) to the less fortunate.