by Ron McGinty
To appreciate the rare terrain of Cappadocia, Turkey, is from hundreds of feet above wandering through in a hot air balloon. Hundreds of balloons ascend into the air each morning at daybreak. The baskets glide close enough you feel you can touch the tops of the snow cone-looking mountains.
Mother Nature spawned volcanic eruptions many centuries ago, and erosion triggered the anomaly of shapes. Many say it seems magical or mystical to experience this phenomenon.
The former prime minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, describes its uniqueness. “Turkey is a European country, an Asian country, a Middle Eastern country, a Balkan country, a Caucasian country, a neighbor to Africa, Black Sea country, Caspian Sea, all these.”
Cappadocia is a symbol of rareness and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you drift across the terrain, you can visualize the deep history. Bear with me, and I will try to cover centuries in a few sentences, kind of like the Cliff Notes.
The Hittites were the earliest to manufacture iron weapons and tools. They ruled Cappadocia until the Persians took over in about 550 B.C. Next was Alexander the Great and subsequently the Roman Empire. The luxury of the Romans is evident in the area’s ruins.
The area was a sanctuary for Christians during the time of the Byzantine Kingdom. Christianity grew in Cappadocia, where the remains of many churches survive still today. Following the Romans, the Muslim Turks conquered this area, and today the current population is predominantly Muslim.
Cappadocia’s wealth resulted from a route to the silk trade, as was Petra in Jordan. Hopefully, this little bit of history will set the stage for why Cappadocia is such a mystical area and not only for its uniqueness of terrain.
The balloon parade is the most-watched event each day. It passes over mountains and hotel tops with masses of spectators taking selfies with the balloons as the backdrop.
For the true story of today, our hotel was the Anka Suites Hotel, a very charming place. It is a cave hotel built into the mountain, so it is four stories tall. We asked for the first floor, but that is the ground level. Unfortunately, the entrance is on top. You guessed it, and I had to walk down and up stone steps to my floor. The steps do not have railings the whole way. It happened, I fell.
Trying to save my camera, I went head first. The most significant part, they called an ambulance to take me to the hospital. The hospital was new, with a very attentive emergency room staff. Four nurses and a doctor greeted me, administered a brain scan and MRI, and patched me up. I told the doctor I was responsible for the charges because I had no insurance outside of the United States. I went to the front desk to check out, and the bill was only $550 United States dollars, including the ambulance. I said that was very cheap by our standards, and the lady laughed; she was used to hearing this. You are only paying for our services, not for any of the outside solicitors. We both laughed.