When I first looked at the rocks, they looked straight out of a Starwars movie or maybe from a scene in the Flintstones cartoon. But they are real, an act of nature, so sublime and ethereal, that you can just sit and gaze in wonder at the landscape dotted with rocks carved, shaped, re-shaped and exposed by natures' seemingly cruel hand.
Cappadocia, in Turkey is a land that compels you to imagine.
There are rocks and there are caves.
Empty, bare, stark in summer and covered by a white sheet of snow in the winter. And then, there is history. Millions of years of history, steeped in those caves, hiding from the sight of the casual travellers who are happy to get another photo opportunity clicked for the latest Facebook Post. Fairy Chimneys, the rocks were called when they were first discovered, no doubt because they looked a bit too unreal to be true, as if they could only exist in the land of fairy tales.
Each rock seemed to be hiding its own story. A rock shaped like a monk saying his morning prayers, another rock shaped like a yogasana gone wrong, one tiny rock shaped like a man with a slumped back, who just lost his dream. Each rock, an invitation to the imagination. But there's more, underneath, literally.
Beneath these rocks are remmants of the underground cities of Cappadocia. Multi-level underground cities that saved generations of Cappadocians from invading armies. A march down the caves is not for the claustrophic. As entire families fled the fairy chimneys to hide in the underground cities, there were spaces for cooking, prayer, even for hanging people, could be traitors or enemies. We'll never know.
The geography still remains a testimony to the regions' uniqueness but the history remains sketchy, at best. Did the enemy warriors ever find out about the underground cities? Did the underground cities get used as bunkers during the World Wars? Answers we'll never know. No one wrote an Anne Frank's diary in these caves, after all. So, we can imagine. Just imagine.
And wonder. We have not seen the last of these caves. As late as December 2014, a new archaeological site has been discovered at Nevsehir, by accident, by a building company.
It's almost like you could try hitting a nail on the wall and by accident, stumble onto a new underground city. An archaeologist's dream for sure. Give me a shovel and let me dig, I say.
But coming back to the rocks. They aren't sharing any of the secrets. Maybe, over their rock gossip, they discuss the old tales one more time. We can only see them, and what better way than to float above in a hot air balloon waiting for the sunrise to paint the entire panorama in a mystical, magical, mythical glow?
A new dawn breaks. The faces change. Visitors change. New travellers come and marvel at the rock formations. From a distance, it feels like the rocks are having an evening get-together and joking about all that is changing around with, with them; a nose that got shaved off, a head that got tilted - exfoliation they call it, all part of the game. Tomorrow is a new day. As always.