Cappadocia under the snow

The blue porcelain lid over our heads silently cracks and pours down flakes of cold cotton from its grey sleeve. The stony giants of Cappadocia obediently slip into their snowy garments while patches of cheddar coloured grass rebelliously reject the crispy hug of the winter blanket spread over the Anatolian plateau. Lonely poplar trees swing to the rhythm of the wind, as if to warm up their invisible feet. The winter has fully taken possession of its seasonal throne in a simple and elegant gown of white and yellow, adorning herself here and there with bracelets of ruby rose-hips. Alas, in this time of the year the sun works part-time, and those who dare contemplating this spectacle of wintertime colours have only a few hours of joy per day.

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Amazed by this sight, we alternate between motion and stillness. At times flying in the valleys like the birds that flock around, at times solidifying into dazed sculptures that want to merge with these immobile shapes and travel across time. But our happy and idle explorations are abruptly shortened by the approaching darkness.  So we desperately search for a place to hide – a pigeon-hole in the chimneys, worm-like corridors from the earth to the sky, windy rooms with windows to the night. We walk, and search and finally find something we could use as shelter for a night. But no wood is to be found in the darkness, and we feel as if coming to the the end of a steep slide down – from a 4*hotel, through petrol stations and now to the cold walls of a flint stone house.

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Frozen in flight

We head back to Göreme to pick our backpacks up, with the bitter certainty that we are going to enjoy the cold tonight being only mitigated by the thought of a wonderful view promised by the morning.  Houses with no doors, and glass less windows do not combine well with a zip-less sleeping-bag and our empty camping gas, so we decide to warm up our hands and throats with a last glass of tea before heading back to our den in the valleys.  But luckily tea in this part of the world is always served with sugar and talks, and yet again salvation waits around the corner. Ali, the friendly waiter of this shiny place, rejects to conceive the idea of letting us freeze in the night of Cappadocia, and kindly invites us to stay at his little place just on the floor above the table we sit on. Ali is an Iranian-Kurdish refugee, who unknowingly has made a triple somersault, from the fire to the pan, and works shifts of 20 hours below minimum wage while awaiting a freedom that only official bureaucracy can grant him. He shares with us everything he’s got in this place far away from home, and makes us remember our friends around the world, that travel with no luggage and the illusory hope that a British, Spanish or French passport will bring joy to the “illegal lives and wanderings” they have to endure. He says the house is the empty and cold home of a refugee, but admits that despite the lack of kitchen, shower or gas, the place is enough for him, and so it is definitely good for us too.

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Walking home?

On this first evening nobody notices the snails playing dice in the corner, happily waiting to be taken home. A day later, we come back after a long walk in the snow and warm up our toes by the wood-stove, greeting the staff and owners and enjoying the privileges of being guests.  But something happens then, and one day later the door of the same restaurant opens again, this time to welcome us no longer as customers, neither as guests, not even as the friends of Ali, but as waiters for a day, ready to help our new friend and work for our dinner that night. We broke no plates and spilled no wine, so we were in no-time offered a promotion, from bar-tenders to tour-guides, the package including a car and the elite company of wealthy tourists. From tramps to free-lancers in a single eve!

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Living at Old Cappadocia. Thanks to Ali (left)

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