Wednesday, May 23, 2012
My legs were already begining to ache when we decided not to go to the bazaar. My friend Hung Yu and I had decided to explore Konya in out free time, but I was becoming nervous from the narrow winding city roads that threatened to swallow us up, never to return to the hotel.
"Maybe we chould go back" one of us suggested, but the thought of spending the rest of the day at the hotel wasn't appealing to either of us, so Hung Yu checked her guide book and suggested we check out a little church a half hour a way by bus.
Of course, this plan had draw backs of it's own. We were unfamiliar with the bus system, and we were worried the busses might even stop before we got back, but it turned out using the busses was very easy. There was a prominitely posted bus schedule and we were easily able to buy a two-use bus card at a nearby kiosk. So we waited for bus 64 to Sille
Once we had all made it on, the bus winded through the city until we had left the crowded sprawl of small shops behind and had entered an expanse of dusty grass spotted with a few resiliant shrubs and the occasional tree.
"How will we know when our stop is?" I asked Hung Yu
"It's the last one" she replied
Finally I saw a minaret in the distance and a small village came into view. Our bus pulled up the the covered bus stop, the most modern looking thing in sight.
The church was visible from the bus stop, but as it turns out it was under restoration, so we climbed up to a small castle nearby, passing an old graveyard from Ottoman times on our way.
We still had some time until the bus came back, so Hung Yu suggested we walk through the village, towards some caves we had seen in the nearby hills.
The village was peaceful. A few children chased each other and two women in colorful headscarves made there way slowly down the main road.
We turned right at the mosque, and climbed a little ways to find the caves, but it was definately worth it. Although, at the time we didn't know any details about their history, it was clear the natural rock had been modified for use by humans. Some caves were seperated into small rooms, and there were recesses in the rock I imagined could have been used for storage or as a fire pit.
While exploring, we ran into two local boys , Ahmet and Mehmet, who gave us their highly imaginative version of what had gone down in the caves, which included lots of torture and a lion.
They were disappointed when, ultimately we refused to pay them for it.
We left Sille after that, but the mystery of the caves continued to haunt me. After dinner, I tried to find information about them online, but there was very little information about Sille, and even less about the caves.
Despite this setback, I was determined to learn the history of the caves, so the next day I approached our tour guide and showed her the pictures I had taken.
As it turns out, people have been living in those caves for eight thousand years! The first peoples settled in around six thousand BCE and since then those caves have been used as housing, storage, and even a monastary! Stone from the caves was used to to make some of the buildings we were to tour later that day.
The city also had an interesting history , it had been home to Greek and Turkish Christians up until the population exchanges of nineteen tweny two. Before that, the population had been protected by the poet Mevlana Rumi, and the people for many years were charged with maintaining his tomb. The village was also a stop along the silk road.
Needless to say, I think our detour turned out very well. Just goes to show, you never know how what you will find until you try a detour!