|On the road at 8:15.
Our first stop was a guided tour of the ancient underground city of Kaymakli. These cities were carved out of the relatively soft tufa rock. The main reason for the existence of these cities was to provide refuge from the invading armies. Up to 5000 people could live here. We were able to crouch through narrow tunnels to experience living quarters, granneries, stables, wine cellers, and wells! We went 4 stories beneath the ground. It was amazing!
Then we visited the picturesque village of Guzelyurt...the birthplace of St. George. Here we visited with an Imam. He was not at all like I expected. He was a young, clean shaven man who was a soccer player! He graciously answered everyones's questions about the Muslim beliefs and rituals. He began his studies to become an Imam as an 8th grader...going to a special school through high school. He then studied Theology of many religions at University. To be an Imam he must memorize the entire Koran! As an Imam he is the spiritual leader and teacher for a community of people.
Our next stop was lunch at another truck stop...cafeteria style. It was 20 Lyra ($14) for a piece of meatloaf and a brownie and water...way overpriced!
Next we visited a medieval caravanserai...one of a network of fortressed stops for traders along the Silk Road. These immense stone structures (Armenian architectural style) were spaced about 10 hours of walking distance apart. They provided a safe place for traders to sell their goods, trade, and sleep. They offered protection from thieves and the elements.
Our last stop of the day was the Mevlana Museum where we learned about the whirling (not twirling) dervishes. These are men who use the whirling ritual to obtain a trancelike meditative state to seek enlightenment.
The area we traveled through today reminded us of eastern and northeastern Oregon. A lot of agriculture...mainly grain and some smaller garden plots at each home. We saw many families out working the soil, planting and weeding...a lot of hand labor.
We shared a bottle of wine in our room...this old section of Konya is "dry". We were on our own for dinner tonight with no help or recommendations from Alp. We found a place...no English spoken! Took a chance...ordered something we thought was chicken kabobs. Best and cheapest meal we've had so far! Pita breads, sautéed onions, chopped salad, fresh onions, Turkish salsa, whipped yogurt (use like sour cream), two chicken kabobs...all for $14. The three of us were stuffed with some leftover.