2/6/90

After a hot shower (4,000TL extra each) we walked out into the cool morning to explore Konya. The city itself is very old, dating from Roman times when it was an important agricultural centre. At nearby Catalhoyuk there are ruins of an organised village dating to the 8th millennium BC and thought to be the oldest town on Earth.

The city of Konya, however, reached its cultural peak between the 11th-13th centuries during which time a poet called Mevlana founded the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, the ceremonial aspects of which continue to this day.

After a stop at the Tourist Information Centre we went to a berber (barber) where I had a shave which included face massage, hair removal (ouch!), the hair burnt out of my ears with a lighter and hair trim, all for 5,000TL. After that we went for some brunch followed by some apple çay and a conversation with some locals in a jewellery shop.

We wandered around at random for a while but lacking any real plan we decided to catch a local bus up to the village of Sille in the hills 7 kilometres north of the city where an old rock village and a Byzantine church are situated.

It was raining when we got off the bus so we walked from doorway to doorway through the quiet and ramshackle village with the rock dwellings dug into the cliff rising sheer behind. Outside the local police station, a policeman hailed us to come and have some çay and a “conversation” conducted with hand signals and drawn pictures. After we had established what we had come to see, one of the officers arranged for a guide to take us up to look at the rock dwellings.

Sille

The labyrinths of tiny rooms have been dug into the soft rock of the cliff and are very old, although just how old we couldn’t find out from our guide, Kemal. They are perhaps as old as 5,000 years. After we had scrambled around in the tiny houses for an hour or so, Kemal took us to see the old Byzantine church which is around 1,500 years old.  Inside the chapel were ancient frescoes of biblical scenes, most of them cracked and defacerd but still recognisable. A man who lived in a tiny room up in the buildingS rafters played us some Turkish songs on a sort of guitar , the mournful sound echoing through the old church while outside the gentle rain continued to fall through the leafy trees beside the church.

Then Linda told me that our guide had made a pass at her, the slimy little cunt, so we insisted that it was time to leave. We went back down to the police station and took a few photos with them then caught the bus back to Konya.

The local police at Sille.

When we got back to the Otel Mevlana we had a bit of a rest then wandered around the bazaar for a while. Linda bought a pair of shoes and we bought a couple of bags of Locum, a Turkish sweet sort of like marshmallow. We also bought some strawberries and ate them as we wandered around. The fruit and vegetable market was especially good, the smells and colours of the fruit, spices, cheeses, vegetables and meats reminding us of Africa.

Later in the evening as we were having çay in a café, the young guy from the barber shop came in for some soup and invited us back to his shop for çay. We spent a couple of hours there talking, drinking çay and taking photos while Linda had a haircut and I had another shave. However, the evening was somewhat spoiled when the creepy little barber, whose name was Mustafa, began making inappropriate gestures toward Linda.      

Berbershop Quintet, Konya.

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