Turkey 2008 III: Cappadoccia cont’d

Wilfried convinced me to accompany him on a balloon ride over the Cappadoccian landscape. Being scared of heights and terrified of fire is not a good combination for balloon-riding; here, waiting at the Goreme U.F.O. museum while the balloon people decided whether the weather was good enough to fly, I look as though I’m not quite sure it’s a good idea.

However, after waiting for two hours, they decided it was a go and several trucks came roaring in, all pulling trailers with huge balloons in them.

Balloons come in a few different sizes; ours was a 12-seater (although they had no seats – standing room only). It was quite fascinating watching the balloons being inflated; I couldn’t help thinking about the possibilities of flaming balloon death, though. Each time the propane was turned on to inflate the balloon, it exited the tank with a great big whoosh.

I also found it somewhat disconcerting that absolutely everyone associated with the balloon business smoked … I wasn’t sure the extent to which that was dangerous, given the circumstances.

However, I did get into the balloon basket and we did ascend over the Cappadoccian landscape, along with about 13 other balloons at various heights in the sky.

We sailed quietly over the Red Canyon with only the occasional whoosh of flame as the balloon’s pilot sent us higher and higher.

Below is a picture of the view from the balloon, with Uchisar castle in the background.

I did keep a death grip on the balloon the entire time we were aloft; apparently we rose to about 1,600 meters (can that be right?!) at one point.

Once safely back on solid ground, the balloon crew gave us both champagne and a certificate of flight.

Thanks to Wilfried for the great photos of the balloon flight! On our way back to Side, we stopped at the Mevlana Museum in Konya, home of the Sufi mystic and poet Rumi and his followers, the Whirling Dervishes, whose dances, the Sema, Rumi developed, and the site of Rumi’s sarcophagus.

The garden surrounding the Museum has beautiful flowers and grave markers with elaborately carved calligraphy.

To see more pictures, click here and here.

In 2007-8 I created a book work dedicated to Rumi; to see it, and others from the Book of Hours series, click here and here.

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