In Cappadocia After 25 Years
25 years ago along with my sister Oya and two friends, Nurhayat and Beatrice we headed to Cappadocia. The most lunar of all places on earth that I know of. The land of fairy chimneys, amazing homes carved in rock, inhabited some 2000 years ago, underground cities where people hid…just to name a few of the attributes. As a band of four girls with good shoes, we had seen almost everything that there is to see in this valley of marvels. One person had helped us shape our trip. Süha Ersöz, who is the owner of the Esbelli Evi which is a bread and breakfast which defies the notion of bread and breakfast.
This is a residential complex of stone homes connected very organically as if offering a different view of the world. A proposal pulled out of the many colors of Anatolian home culture, telling us that there are others spaces, other ways of living. My grandmother was from Ürgüp, where Esbelli Evi is. My grandfather is from the other side of the beautiful Erciyes mountain one can admire from Cappadocia. Although I have never lived in this area, Cappadocia feels like home to me. Once a volcano, with a sibling to the west, Beydağ, not less ferocious, the explosions of the two formed the valley of Cappadocia which offers very peculiar rocks.
As time went by like most corners of Turkey, Cappadocia suffered its own fate of aggressive tourism. A land where the rock and earth are natural homes to people, tourists came riding their motorbikes over this amazing scenery, off-road, damaging all that is beneath their fast wheels and absurd exhaust fumes. But last winter, when Turkey suffered random terrorist violence, tourists stopped coming. While this is detrimental to the survival of the locals depending economically on tourism, I can not stop considering that maybe Cappadocia’s fragile and mesmerizing nature will get a break for some time. Why is it so hard for us humans to live in harmony with nature? The answer is manyfolds, it goes without saying.
I felt so fortunate to be back in Cappadocia after so many years along with my family, to visit Süha Bey and witness how he expanded his Esbelli Evi, to spend a night in a cave home of 1800 years and to perform at the Cappadox Festival. The latter’s imagination goes well with the place. One evening in a monastery for a solo recital, the next with Canadian cellist and good person Rebecca Foon under the full moon of the Kızıl Vadi, playing freely (Red Valley named after the iron found in the stones, which turned red over the centuries). The spring was also there, displaying its lush green only interrupted by wild flowers scattered all through the rocks.
And it was wonderful to spend some time with our good friend, artist Burcu Aksoy whom we ran into!