Day 5 – Cappadocia

Today was a wonderful morning.  I was missing hiking in the hills of LA and traditional breakfast.  I got a pleasant surprise when I went down for breakfast and there were omelettes. 

I was in for another treat.  We went to Camel valley and walked up the steep inclines and named the rock formations as we went.  Camel Valley would be Turkey’s Grand Canyon. 

Camel Valley in Cappadocia

Afterwards, we headed to Avanos Pottery.  At Avanos, they make and hand paint ceramics and clay in honor of ancient Hitit traditions.  We were throuroughly impressed by the workmanship and the professionalism of the owner.  He was very forth coming and fills orders many times with the US.  When he asked if anyone in the crowd was from Chicago, I eagerly raised his hand.  Mayor Daley had been there recently.  I believe everyone got at least one souvenir because it was impossible to ignore the beauty of the handmade ceramics.  In other words, when it’s time for my wedding, you’ll know where to find my registry – fircaceramic.com   😉

Inside Avanos Pottery in CappadociaHitit Pitcher, unique to Turkey

It was then off to Pashaba for lunch.  There was a scene we actually saw yesterday at the Ethnographic museum that looked exactly like today.  Women made homemade pancakes just as they did hundreds of years ago.  These pancakes were cooked on the grill with the choice of cheese, spinach, and potato.  Unfortunately, I was not a fan of the cow cheese that they used. 😦  I took a bite and had to pass it on to one of the guys.  Thank goodness for Louis Pasteur! 

Women preparing Turkish pancakes in PashabaHitit Pitcher, unique to Turkey

While leaving, one of our Professors, Rochelle, ran into some US Senators & Congressmen from Georgia that are in town looking for ways to work with Turkey.  She was gracious enough to make sure we met them.  I’m unsure if they’ve decided on anything specifically, but I can say like me, they’ve been pleasantly surprised with how wonderful Turkey is. 

It was then off to the Saruhan, a recently renovated caravansaerai.  A historic caravan stop where merchants would park their camels, horses, and wagons while they sold their items at the market.  It’s now also a theater where the Dervishes perform.  The Dervishes are followers of Rumi.  I’ll tell you more about that in a later post as we’re going to see them perform soon.  🙂

Sarihan (Caravanserai) from Selcuk Period

Before coming to Turkey, the few people I spoke to told me to be leary of carpet salesmen.  They don’t allow you to say no.  :-p  While I’ve only been hastled by one salesman, it’s not as common as everyone has told me.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of carpets and salesmen.  

Silk production, removing the silk from the cocoons

At first glance, Turkish styled are the same carpets that a year ago I would have turned my nose up and felt were old lady carpets for sitting in the foyer of nana’s house.  But when a carpet is done right, it is a labor of love and more than a craft, it’s art.  We met with Bazaar 54 owner, Korkmaz Karakaya, the carpet warehouse/school where they teach women who live in smaller villages the art of creating carpets and also sell them.  It’s co-sponsored by the Turkish government to ensure that the craft of the Turkish carpetry doesn’t die.  When learning about Turkish carpet, you will never look at carpet the same.  These hand woven wool and silk masterpieces are not only a part of the Turkish cultural history, they are workmanship like no other carpets and last longer than any other carpets.  The secret is in the knotting and materials.  Real Turkish carpets are made in Turkey and are certified by the seller.  Your name, sales date, picture of the carpet will come with a certificate of authenticity.  The design tapestries are common from indigenous tribes and passed down through family… 

Dying fabric in Cappadocia, TurkeyAshley learns to weave the famous Turkish knot

Maybe carpet salesmen are effective… They made me fall in love and after knowing the work that goes into it from silk and wool production along with dying and weaving, it’s no longer Nana’s carpet.  I’m banking on wedding registration at some point… I’ll post the website later. :-p

Carpets on display in Cappadocia

Today was a great day for handmade arts and getting back to nature.  Tomorrow, we are bound for Konya.

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