30.07.2010 43 °C
Well as the temperature rises we do our best to keep cool so have spent the last few days hanging out at the pool and enjoying getting to know a few of the local people. Albeit our conversations are short and there is lots of sign language and shrugs of the shoulders. Our day started today seeing 3 hot air balloons come right over our verandah while we ate breakfast and land just metres away. Later we headed to the Goreme Open Air Museum. Its a UNESCO World Heritage Site and had fresco's dating from the 9th century. The kids had lots of fun exploring the caves, some of which were churches with beautiful painted walls and ceilings. They had a good try at deciphering the stories that the pictures told and were fascinated by the skeletal remains in one cave that were unearthed in 2006.
Probably the highlight for Holly and Toby though was a ride on a camel - their faces were beaming the whole time, they held on tight and only looked slightly worried at the end when the camel sat down to let them off. From there we walked to Goreme to catch a taxi back to the cool haven of our cavehouse. The walk to Goreme was probably the hottest of my life. It was 43 degrees!!! however I have to say the kids coped very well with the heat, they were hot but there was no moaning at all except a few "how much furthers". Goreme had changed hugely since we were there in 2001. It was like the Queenstown of Cappadocia and judging by the accommodation and amount of tour buses the back packers have disappeared as well. So then it was back home and straight to the pool for a cool off.
The kids have made some great friends at the pool 2 girls (Ozge and Aybuke) and 2 boys (Berkay and ?) around 11 years old who pretty much hang out with us for the entire time of our swim. It is great to see the kids completely unfazed by the language barrier. Bellie is now swimming with floaties and Holly and Toby are enjoying their increasing confidence. This is one of the reasons we have decided to stay here for a further 3 weeks (originally booked for 1). We set out with a goal of introducing the kids to another culture and we have been lucky enough to become a part of that here. We are recognised by many of the store owners who enquire about the kids and the staff here at our accommodation are also lovely. The kids at the pool are teaching us all a few Turkish words - yesterday's lesson was how to count to five. It's funny they have gone from quiet, reserved interactions to now mobbing us the minute we arrive and immediately grabbing the kids and wanting to dunk them - which our kids are less than happy with.
We have also had lots of fun talking to Koray about the Turkish culture. They really seem to hold a strong value on Family and children are very precious. Children are very respectful of their parents and there is apparently very little crime. Alcohol is not a big part of life - thus maybe the lack of crime. He also told us there is a saying about teachers having heaven just under their feet. Teachers are highly regarded as they hold the key to the future - a nice way of looking at it.
We are really enjoying the food - everything is made from scratch using fresh ingredients there is a notable lack of processed foods here and it is interesting how much healthier you feel, how quickly the sugar cravings disappear and the lack of headaches. The afternoons are filled with bowls of watermelon, oranges, apples and kiwifruit. The biscuits that can be brought are really pretty dry and tasteless so we just don't bother with them. The other three strange and unrealated things I like are 1) Front loading washing machines - seem to get the dirtiest children's travelling clothes clean, 2)Huggies $15 for 66 - a bargain (let me know if anyone wants me to import them). I tried to have a conversation with a lady at the pool yesterday as to where to get the huggies swimmers that she had her baby in. After some puzzled looks and a final statement that you have to go into the city to get them she ended up giving me her babies one as she left the pool - not the usual item to use second hand. Finally number 3) kitchen handitowels which have a half sheet perforation (I know I am strange but am sure mothers of young children will appreciate that one)
Matt went with Koray for a shave at a Barber shop yesterday - I'll let him describe the experience:
I went for a Turkish shave yesterday with Koray at his local barber. An interesting experience. Starts with a 5 minute soap up with hot hot water. Once you have about a inch of foam on they get out the flick blade and run it over your face. The shave was great and very close. When they do under your bottom lip they put their fingers in your mouth to pull away your bottom lip. To stretch the skin and under your nose they pinch your nose pulling it up to achieve the same - was a wee bit taken back by this. However the best was when he dunked a over sized cotton tip in some meths then lit it. It was a "what the fuck" moment. The flame was about 4-5 inches and made me glad Koray was there with me, so in a high pitched voice I screeched to him "is this normal or are they taking the piss cause I'm a foreigner". He laughed and relayed my comments to the 4 guys working in there who all laughed for some time at my expense. So what was the flaming cotton tip for! - they cup your ear with 1 hand and with the other flick the flame inside your ear to burn the hairs! The cupping hand covers the outer ear to stop any burns - that is the Health and Safety part. He did both ears 4 or 5 times each and I must say the warm flame in your ear and the smell of hair burning inside it was a very very different experience, but a pretty cool one too. All in all it took about 20 minutes for a shave and set me back 5TL about $4.50. Was all worth it though when we went swimming that afternoon and Berkay the young Turkish boy came up to me a said, "You look like Ryan Giggs". Nice one.
So that the news from our part of the world - take care and catch you soon.
Bellie getting ready to Skype