Spring has disappeared from Cappadocia for a while and we are cold here in Ibrahimpasa. Sunday the flakes were flying so Willemijn and I decided that the hamam, or Turkish bath, was in order. This is a fantastic institution that I think Canadians should embrace, particularly in a cold, snowy winter. The hamam we visited was the Elis Kapadokya Hamam in Goreme.
Hamams were central to Ottoman culture, both because, according to the Koran, washing is an essential part of Islam and enjoying the company of friends, making contacts and sizing up potential marriage partners also took place there. Willemijn called ahead to reserve the hamam for us so we were able to enjoy the larger men’s section all to ourselves.
First, at least 15 minutes in the sauna. Then, wrapped in a small, thin towel, 30 minutes lying on the hot raised marble slab – and I mean hot! Then, being rubbed very vigourously with a rough glove to exfoliate dry skin and after, massaged with soap suds and cups full of warm water poured all over the body by the masseuse. Then, half an hour in the small, warm pool followed by another session in the sauna and more cups full of water over the body. Finally, a shower and towel rubdown – what luxury! Especially on a cold, wintery afternoon. When we emerged three hours later, the snow was thick and sticking on the roads. Feeling very relaxed, we enjoyed a wonderful steak meal at one of Goreme’s best restaurants, the Orient, then made our way over hill and valley back to the ranch.
Today Willemijn and I ventured into downtown Nevsehir, the largest town in the vicinity. Willemijn had business to conduct and then we were on the hunt for various items, including wooden clothes pegs for my installation, cushions for the BCH’s terrace, sweaters, and a large-scale reproduction of one of my images, also for the cave house installation. The men in the print shop were making fun of my large self-portrait poster, saying that I must be running for mayor since I was having such a large picture of myself (actually two composites of Tracey and myself) made. (They are in the middle of municipal elections here and huge political posters of smiling Turkish men are everywhere at the moment). Everything was successfully completed and, as a final stop, we sampled Kus Mehmet’s fancy new toast machine at his shop in the village square. Ibrahimpasa does not have any restaurants or coffee shops so KM’s toast is it as far as dining out goes. The machine looks like a large scale grilled cheese or waffle maker and KM fired it up with his own recipe of salami, cheese and egg on two pieces of very large French bread, served with a flourish and two cups of tea. We call him the Toast Master. He’s also quite a comedian.
See pictures here.