Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. ~Maya Angelou
Our time in Cappadocia is limited and the area is vast so we decided to take a guided tour today to see as much as possible of this beautiful land. Generally, I prefer to sightsee on my own time with a book to absorb knowledge at my own pace. The logistics of this trip would not allow us the luxury so, at the recommendation of our hotel proprietor, we boarded a small bus today for a one day tour of some exciting historical sites.
One highlight (or lowlight pardon the pun) of the guided tour was a visit to an ancient, underground city that was abandoned long, long ago. A city that was built beneath the surface of the earth with virtually no discernible structure above ground to give away it’s location to its enemies.
This particular city was 8 stories down, 8 subterranean levels of living quarters for humans and their animal livestock. There were rooms for schools, traps for enemies, deep wells to harvest water, long ventilation shafts, and rooms for worship. For lighting, small pockets were cut out of the rock which held oil that was burned. Gathering the amount of oil required to keep this city lit and keeping the flames burning must have been a full time job for many people.
We descended all the way down to the 8th level frequently bending because the ceilings were low. By trip end, my knees were sore and my quads ached from squatting as I navigated the passages. The longest descent composed of 110 steps, 110 steps of closed in walls. I tend to be a bit claustrophobic so had to calm my heart on more than one occasion.
The engineer in me was awed at this amazing world beneath the land, amazed at how skillful the people must have been to create this world, wondered how they were able to bore shafts with nothing more than hand tools, hand tools and a will to persevere despite the hardships.
I tried to imagine how challenging it must have been to live beneath the surface, away from the rays of the sun for days, weeks, perhaps even months at a time. How challenging it must have been to raise a family in the close confines. How challenging it would be to dwell beneath the surface of the earth. I don’t know if I could have lived that way and stayed sane.