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Minunata anormalitate/ Beautiful Freaks

Su Shi

311 vizualizări

Turcia/ Turkey 28 - 30/07


Pe la jumatatea diminetii celei de-a patra zi de cand suisem la bordul navei, nu mai eram singuri pe mare. Mediterana parea neschimbata, dar orizontul era intrerupt de siluetele catorva vapoare. In sfarsit! Am asteptat ca ceva extraordinar sa aiba loc, dar nu a urmat nimic deosebit. Viata la bord era prea usoara, iar trecerea dintre cele doua continente ni se parea total anti-climatica. Ritualurile noastre nocturne obisnuiau pana de curand sa includa urcatul unui deal (nu era cazul, aici aveam la dispozitie scari), curatatul unui petec de pamant de buruieni inalte pentru a face loc cortului (dar arhitectii se ocupasera deja de asta), cuibaritul in sac, sub stele, in jur de 7 (posibil, dar ar fi trebuit sa dormim pe punte). Sufeream o criza teribila de postpartum pentru Afriica, si ne rasfatam masochist cu amintiri si planuri de intoarcere. Traversarea cu feribotul nu avea destul miez ca sa ne tina in priza cu ceva, si sincer, dura de o vesnicie. Dupa ce ne marinasem in suc propriu zile la rand, ne simteam mintea ca o marmelada, muschii moi si ochii incetosati de lenenveala in hotelul pe ape. 

Abia la pranz orizontul s-a deschis, si am vazut Asia in forma orasului Mersin. Soferii si-au manevrat TIR-urile, transpiratia a curs rauri, pana cand si noi si Tenere am ajuns de pe vapor, pe pamant turcesc. Eram in Asia, dar nu cea care trebuise. Ne-am consolat cu faptul ca granita aceasta avea sa fie usor de rezolvat. Pentru ca - dintr-un motiv sau altul - Turcia mai aspira la aderarea la UE, formalitatile sunt simple si gratuite. Nici vorba de vamuirea vehiculului, nici macar de viza, si bineinteles ca la doar cateva minute de cand ne aflam in fata ghiseului, ni s-a oferit ceai turcesc in semn de bun venit. Singurul aspect negativ: pretul benzinei, nu mai putin de 2 euro pe litru! Nu imi imaginez cum se descurca turcii. Poate ii ajuta fabuloasa gastronomie locala.    

About half-morning on the fourth day since we had climbed aboard, the ship was not alone anymore. The sea appeared to be as changeless as always, but in the early haze of sun, a couple of ships - of which not a glimpse had been given before - littered the horizon. At last! We were waiting for something big to happen today, but again, nothing did. Our guilty indulgence was nursing the postpartum of leaving Africa behind and planing how to come back. We felt cheated by the mellowness of the easy life onboard, the seamless transition between two continents. My usual nightly rituals used to include climbing a hill (no need, we have stairs), clearing a bit of bush (the interior designer had taken care of that), hitting the sack around 7 p.m. under the stars (couldn’t, unless we slept on deck). Sailing just wasn’t jazzy enough to keep us interested. And frankly, it was taking a LONG. DAMN. TIME. After marinating on the sea since forever, we had marmalade for brains, flabby muscles and cloudy eyes. 

Only at noon the horizon cracked open and Asia gleamed in the form of Mersin. Truckers maneuvered, sweat flowed, hours passed, and us and bike were out of the ship gut and on Turkish soil. Not the bit we had planned, but as least this side the border was really easy. Turkey is striving for some reason to join the EU, so formalities were a breeze. There was no talk of bogus customs clearance, even if we had arrived in a port. No costs, not even a visa, and of course that minutes into the process we were sipping on free turkish tea. The only downside was the abominable price for petrol: 2 bloody euros per liter! Frankly, I don’t know how these people cope. Maybe the world renewed turkish cuisine helps. 


Am testat teoria asta cu delicatesa din poza de mai sus: un carnat bine condimentat, la gratar. ‘Bucatarul’ a plecat in bucatarie cu un buchet de patrunjel si menta, si s-a intors cu o salata peste care a presarat sumak. Ceaiul, desigur, din partea casei. Mini festinul a contracarat lipsa noastra de entuziasm pentru lumea la care urma sa ne re-adaptam. Cu prima ocazie am evadat de la drumul principal, catre Parcul National Ala Dağlar, unde masivul Demirkazık umple zarea.

What we have here is a southern special: spicy sausage on charcoal. The ‘chef’ carried a spring of fresh parsley and mint into the kitchen to chopped us a sumak-sprinkled salad. Of course tea was still on the house, and it did a lot to pop my bubble of scorn for the world we were to adapt back into. As soon as I could, I took my bike off the main tar, to where the Mt. Demirkazık of the Ala Dağlar National Park blocks the sun.


In curand eram din nou singuri, noi si motorul. Uitate gandurile deprimante si tristetea; locul asta ne inspira la bine, la planuri pentru cum sa ne intoarcem si sa exploram si mai adanc, si mai intim Africa.

Soon there was not an ounce of steaming memories left, either — it was again just us and the bike. It was a great place to start making peace internally with our feelings for Africa and to strengthen our resolution to nomad back on its less beaten tracks as soon as we could. 


Am traversat, din ce in ce mai veseli, sate atipite in umarul muntelui, magarusi lenevind la soare, verdele nesfarsit si aromat al dealurilor. O zi pe placul meu.

Keyword: KaBOOM. I was a spring of energy, and it felt great. Dormant villages, donkey lazying, the smell of mountain grasses. Our day was happening, right there. 


Dupa amiaza ne gandeam deja la un loc de campat. In libertate, normal, pentru ca nu e nimic mai fain decat sa te intinzi pe pamant si sa simti cum energia circula liber intre natura si tine. Unul dintre cele mai bune locuri pentru asta e in centrul Anatoliei: Cappadocia.  

Wild camping is rad, because it gives us unrestrained chances to revive our connection to our environment in an intimate way. But what good is a camping spot if it’s on fenced land? Cappadocia, situated in central Anatolia solves this problem, offering access to plenty of unclaimed ‘properties’.


Locul in care ne-am oprit trebuie sa fi gazduit candva calatori mai veseli. In stadiul acela al aventurii noastre moto, eram consumati de grija proximitatii cu locul din care ne incepusem odiseea, si de contradictii legate de itinerariu. Nu eram nici pregatiti sa trecem linia de ‘sosire’, nici in postura de a continua in conditii optime spre est. Buget, echipament, GPS - doar cateva dintre ratiunile pentru a face un pitstop mai serios. Felul in care calatorisem ne facuse si rau, si bine. ‘Intimitate’ devenise un cuvant gol, ziua o petreceam priponiti de un scaun motorizat, iar noptile intr-o camera de panza de nici 3 metri patrati. Dar asta era casa noastra mobila, o importanta constanta intr-o lume mereu in schimbare. Si chiar si atunci cand lucrurile nu erau chiar in regula, izbutisem sa ne tinem cu dintii de un minim haz-de-necaz, pentru ca se gasesc mai usor solutii la probleme cu o gluma si optimism. De data asta insa, vedeam viitorul mai sumbru. De fapt, nu era mare lucru de discutat. Romania era prea aproape ca sa nu fie destinatia evidenta pentru un popas, sa ne tragem sufletul, si sa ne organizam calabalacul. Ocolul prin Cappadocia, cu gand sa ne pierdem o zi-doua urma printre seminee de lava si canioane roz, era doar un semn ca ne aflam inca in faza de negare. 

Those stars had seen quieter campers. By this time into our two-man show we had grown quite anxious at the proximity with our departure spot and we had an itinerary to plan. We were not ready to hit that invisible finish line yet, nor were we able to to continue our quest further east. Moneywise, gearwise, GPSwise, we needed a pitstop badly. Traveling like we did had done both good and bad to our longtime relationship. Our living space had shrunk to a moving chair by day, and to a 3 sqm room by night. But that was our mobile home, an essential constant in an ever changing world. Even when things got sketchy, we managed to hold onto our jeu d’esprit, a low-stakes way to keep a hand in the game, while trying to deal with the problem with some charm and a few laughs. Which is more than what could be said for what was going on now. Really, though, there wasn’t much to discuss. Unavoidably, we were going to Romania to sort our shit out for a while. Coming to Cappadocia to get lost among its surreal fairy chimney and pink canyons was just being in denial. 


Spre norocul nostru, Cappadocia ne-a dat mai mult decat am sperat. Acum 10 ani Ana petrecea o mare parte din an in Turcia, si imi povestise de multe ori despre un paradis offroad. In Turcia nu ma aflam pentru prima data, dar in Cappadocia da. Eram nerabdator sa verific informatia. 

Luckily Cappadocia delivered. 10 years ago Ana was spending a lot of time in Turkey and this place, she told me many times, was an offroad paradise. It was not my first time in Turkey, but it was in Cappadocia. I was eager to verify that information.


Cu 3800 de ani in urma, pe final de Epoca Bronzului, Hittitii incepusera sa se instaleze in Cappadocia, care avea sa fie colonizata si de Persi, si de Romani, devenind in secolul al 4-lea un refugiu pentru primii crestini. Turcii au sosit mult mai tarziu, dar au avut o politica de toleranta pentru comunitatile de calugari trogloditi. Asta a facut ca regiunea sa aiba in continuare un destin izolat de restul natiunii, desi teritoriile istorice sunt vag delimitate din punct de vedere geografic (la est de Eufrat si la sud de Muntii Taurus). Cappadocia este practic un podis situat la peste 1000 m altitudine, presarat cu vulcani stinsi (unul de aproape 4000 de m inaltime). Semi-arid, fara acces la o sursa importanta de apa, locul asta nu arata ca nimic altceva pe Pamant.

3800 years ago, during the late Bronze Age, the  Hittites started to settle on this land which was to be colonized by Persians and Romans, until becoming a refuge for early Christians in the 4th century. The arrival of Turkish didn’t disturb life in Cappadocia, which grew even more isolated from the rest of the region. The relief played its part. Vaguely delimited by the upper Euphrates to the east and by the Taurus Mountains to the south, historical Cappadocia consists of a high plateau over 1000 m in altitude. Volcanic peaks, one of which reaching almost 4000 m, piercing through a semi-arid, landlocked territory. There’s nothing quite like it on Earth. 


Acum 10 milioane de ani aici era un infern vulcanic. Literalmente. Diferentele de temperatura intre straturile de lava au generat o armonie cromatica care face uitat trecutul geologic atat de violent al Cappadociei. Eruptiile au continuat pana nu demult sa construiasca un peisaj suprarealist. Este o destinatie mondiala de top pentru safari cu balonul, si trebuie sa fie intr-adevar fain sa plutesti deasupra unui astfel de loc. 

10 million years ago this was an inferno of bubbling volcanos. Temperature differences of the lava layers generated a soft color harmony that speaks nothing of such a violent geological past. The eruptions continued until recent times, further shaping a surreal landscape. It’s a world renowned ballooning destination, and indeed, it must be wonderful to float above such a beautiful place.


Am plecat din satul Göreme, centrul turistic al regiunii, catre Ürgüp, printre pliurile de lava din Valea Rosie.    

We set off from Göreme village, the tourist hub to the region, towards Ürgüp, through the pinkish folds in the Red Valley tuff.   


Panorama cerea o gustare, cu picioarele atarnand deasupra minunatului anormal. 

The view required a snack, feet dangling above more beautiful geological freaks. 


Acolo unde stratul de 100-150 metri grosime de lava solidificata este acoperita de un bazalt rezistent la eroziune, Cappadocia e acoperita de stranii coloane. Seminee de lava, inalte, galbate la baza, suple catre capitelul de piatra, macinate de eoni de ape meteorice si vant, nascande ici si colo din desertul de cenusa vulcanica. 

Where some sort of erosion resistant basalt caps the softer, 100-150 m thick tuff stratum, the Cappadocian land is populated with strange columns. These are hoodoos (also called fairy chimneys), tall, totem pole-shaped spires of rock, shaped over millennia by flood waters and wind, protruding from the bottom of the arid consolidated volcanic ash.    


Peisajul selenar ne-a alinat dorul de Africa. Eram in desert, dar ma simteam din nou ca pestele in apa. 

The fragmentary, Dadaist moonscape was proper detox for our Africa postpartum. I was again in my prime environment. 


Am urmat o poteca ingusta pana intr-un sat ascuns in vegetatia uscata care umplea valea. Un barbat calare pe magar ne-a aruncat o privire gen ‘de pe ce planeta ati aparut?’, si asta nu ne-a mirat prea tare. Pentru ca daca o decada in urma Cappadocia isi primea turistii fara sa-si lepede traditiile, astazi regiunea e inundata de vizitatori, care rareori ajung in astfel de sate. Nevazute de ochii turistilor, caisele anatoliene sunt cultivate in vai, femeile cu batice albe coc gözleme acasa. Viata cappadociana ‘in exil’ merge mai departe. Acolo unde Ana isi amintea drumuri de pietris, am gasit o retea eficienta de sosele. Avanos nu mai era un catun de olari, ci un orasel in toata regula, cu propriul hotel Hilton. Sigur, nu trebuie sa ne temem de modern, si poate ca e buna democratizarea Cappadociei, unde nu mai vin acum doar hippioti. Dar apetitul omului pentru profit, se stie, are putine (sau deloc) limite. Ana, cautand in zadar semnele unei Cappadochii de altadata, devenea din ce in ce mai trista. Imaginile de mai jos sunt facute acum mai mult de zece ani in Valea Dragostei.

We took a small path that eventually freewheeled us through a diminutive village hidden in the bush-littered valley. A man on a donkey gave us the ‘what planet are you coming from’ look. No wonder. If a decade ago Cappadocia was a place where the traditional life magically coexisted with the arrival of tourism industry, today that trickle of vacationers has become a flood, and such villages have become almost extinct. Anatolian apricots are still grown in the valleys and gözleme still cooked on hot plates at home, but tourists are rarely aware of all this. Where Ana spoke of dusty gravel now lays an efficient network of tarred roads. Avanos, where she once informally played with clay, has become a proper town and pottery legend, with its own Hilton resort. Of course, we must not fear modernization, and I suppose it is more democratic  to allow more than the regular hippies into the region. But man’s appetite for profit has little if any boundaries, and for Ana it was difficult to look in vain for traces of lost Cappadocia. These are photos from the Love Valley taken more than ten years ago. 



Peisajul si-a pastrat intacta magia. Ne-am zis ca eram deja prea norocosi sa ne tina inca Heidenaul pe spate, dar ziua noastra tocmai devenea si mai faina. Undeva intre Avanos si nu-stiu-unde, am fost ademeniti de roca orbitor de alba. 

The landscape has retained its mesmerizing allure. We thought the absence of punctures in our well worn Heidenau would be reward enough, but somewhere between Avanos and who-knows-where, white sandstone started glowing. 



Tot depanand amintiri, filosofand si glumind pe tema sexului anormal al mamei natura, nimerisem din intamplare intr-un loc cu adevarat de basm. Culorile, texturile si profilul neregulat al terenului alcatuiau un peisaj nepamantesc in care yang-ul motorului meu isi gasea yin-ul. 

Romanticizing the past, talking and riffing an occasional fully formed joke about the rocky genitalia of mother earth, we had effortlessly rolled into a particularly fantasyland section. Any sense of order and any imagination provoked, and subsequently defeated by the many colors, textures and irregularities of the land. I could have been in a whole other galaxy for all I cared — this landscape was making my Yamaha look good.


Cappadocia are o gramada de locuri ascunse. Cum ar fi o poienita de nisip in mijlocul unui palc de seminee de lava impietrita.

Cappadocia doesn’t overbill the ‘you’ll love to ride it’ angle, either – there’s plenty to knock things off any offroad to do list. Like deep sand in a forest of fairy chimneys.  


Apusul era aproape, iar eu ma simteam din ce in ce mai bine pe lava. In urmatorul sit mai interesant a trebuit sa trec cu vederea aspectele comerciale, dar odata ce am intrat mai adanc in peisaj, nisipul si piatra m-au facut sa ma simt de parca Cyril Despres ar fi aparut de dupa un copac si mi-ar fi propus sa fiu in pielea lui pentru o zi. 

Soon sunset was getting ready to happen and tuff and I were getting serious. I had to get over the touristy layout of the next site, but once I did, the cameo that rock and sand made in a day filled with tarmac and resorts was like having Cyril Despres step out of your closet and asking if you want to borrow his life for a day. I was chuffed.



Trogloditii au sapat biserici si case in roca vulcanica, construind adevarate orase subterane. Am asteptat sa se lase noaptea, incercand sa ne imaginam cum se traia odinioara aici, ascultand randunelele incheindu-si o alta zi in vazduh. In curand cerul isi stralucea autoritar stelele asupra bolovanilor netezi, asupra vegetatiei colturoase, peste semineele amutite.

Troglodytes have carved churches and homes in the soft tuff, and even built underground cities. We waited for the sun to set, while trying to imagine what it must have been like to squat in this unworldly place, and listening to sparrows ending another day in the sky. Soon the authority of the starlit sky over everything below it could no longer be questioned. The earthy boulders, the sand-hugging vegetation, the hoodoos, all frozen in silence. 





In noaptea aceea am dormit in casa de oaspeti a lui Ibrahim. Asa s-a intamplat, eu sa parchez in fata casei lui si Ana sa mentioneze ca gasea Cappadocia cam schimbata. Discutia asta cerea mai mult timp. Ibrahim s-a nascut si traia alaturi de mama sa in acea casa, sapata in carnea de lava chiar de bunicul lui. Rasfoind in cartea in care sunt publicate pozele de mai jos, gazda noastra ne-a povestit cum familii ca a sa se lupta sa tina pasul cu boomul din turism. Cum ce a ramas din generatiile ajunse la senectute sunt prizonieri in propriile case pierdute in noul fief al statiunilor de lux si al coruptiei. Am varsat o lacrima pentru toti acei oameni pe care ii vanasem in van toata ziua, pentru tarancile care nu mai gatesc pe platforme imbracate in chilimuri, pentru taranii pe magarus pe care Ana si-i amintea ca prin vis. Pentru proprii nostri bunici, ale caror opinci si strung de lemn au ars demult, odata cu etapele eludate in procesul de modernizare a Romaniei. 

That evening we stayed in Ibrahim’s guest house. We did not plan to, but it turned out he had been born in that very house, carved in the age old tuff by his grandfather. His mother still lived there as well. Ana mentioned how Cappadocia had changed and that kickstarted a conversation that required more time. Zapping through one of his books, Ibrahim told us his own story of how to cope with the boom of tourism. Of how what is left of older generations has become home prisoner in a land conquered by 5 star resorts and a bit of corruption. We shed a tear for those people we had searched in vain for all day long, for those white-scarfed ladies who used to cook lunches on their kilim-covered platforms, for those donkey riders Ana could vaguely remember. For our own grandfathers, whose pigskin shoes and wooden tools have long burnt into the pits of modern Romania. The photos below are from a government sponsored album and some are more than 30 years old.




Curtea lui Ibrahim e decorata cu obiecte ‘de familie’: un pieptene pentru razboiul de tesut, o roata pentru tors lana, o sa. Candva obiecte din cotidian, acum decoratie romantica.

A few old bits hanged on the walls of the inner yard: a comb for weaving kilims (traditional Anatolian wool carpets), a spinning wheel, a saddle. Once useful tools, now charming decoration. 





Doar printr-o la fel de romantica figura de stil, Göreme mai poate fi numit ‘sat’. Are restaurante stilate, cafenele tematice, un panou digital pentru informare turistica, chiar si o gara rutiera, iar strazile pavate ‘modern’ gem de vehicule de toate tipurile pentru inchiriat. 

Göreme itself hardly resembles a village anymore. There are fancy establishments and cafes everywhere, an information touchscreen and even a bus stop, and streets are lined with vehicles of all description available for rent. 





Ne aflam in patria uneia dintre cele mai celebrate gastronomii din lume, dar ne ‘alimentam’ numai cu telemea, masline si rosii. Toate delicioase, dar din supermarket. Restaurantele de pe aici nu mai sunt pentru buzunarul de overlander, si mancarea traditionala e cvasi-imposibil de gasit. Am mancat mantı (versiunea turceasca de ravioli), künefe (cataif umplut cu branza si copt in sirop) si supa de linte. Toate nu atat de bune pe cat le stiam a fi. Dar cu toate mofturile si dezamagirea culturala, locul asta este aparte.

Ethosul comercial care a devorat atatea locuri extraordinare din lume nu e atat de prezent, aparent nici in cererea din turism, nici in politica administratiei locale. Poate ca optimismul asta e nefondat, pentru ca noi am fost acolo, e drept, intr-o perioada foarte calda, cand sunt putini turisti. Daca dezvoltatorii raman in limita asezarilor existente si a bun-simtului, legenda va trebui adaptata, dar va continua sa existe. Cu ireala sa frumusete, Cappadocia este in fapt o poveste despre dragostea de libertate, de a crea, de ‘a fi’. Si asta e indeajuns pentru noi.

Despite being on the territory of one of the world’s best cuisine, we were fueled by nothing but white cheese, olives and tomatoes, all good, but all bought from the supermarket. The restaurants are no longer for budget travelers, and traditional food is virtually nonexistent. We did find mantı (turkish hand-rolled ravioli), künefe (a honey drenched pastry with a cheese filling) and lentil soup. They tasted nothing like they’re supposed to. But gastronomical and cultural disappointments aside, this place is still undeniably alluring. 

One pleasure still afforded by Cappadocia — whether because of public demand or a sensible development policy — is a relative lack of the commercial ethos that consumed so many other places. Of course, as we visited during a heatwave when few people were around, our optimism could be unfounded. If developers stay within the confines of settlements and common sense, the legend will have to adapt, but it will be allowed to go on. With its impossibly beautiful landscape and its constantly changing sameness, Cappadocia is only advertising the love for freedom, to create, and to be, and that in itself is enough for us.



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