Cappadocia, In a word: fantastic. In the literal sense. It's a fantasy land, both in terms of history and landscape. The region is a network of small towns that have one thing in common: the weird geology of the region lent itself over the ages to people digging caves to live in. And so they did.
And, if you look at a map, and know a little of the history of the Christian church, you'll see that this area also lent itself to becoming a true cradle for the infant church–a cradle which sheltered Christians in these caves for up to fifteen centuries.
We're about five hours into a seven-hour Turkish bus ride from Canakkale (near Gallipoli) to Selcuk (near Ephesus) so I'm being dry roasted by the bus's heating system and a bit distracted by the ignored prohibition against cell phone use. Only three people are talking loudly now, so it's actually a bit better than before. And, it's a bit bumpy as we wend our way around the road construction. So, I don't know if this is going to work, but it's too dark to read, and the bus interior reading lights don't work, so I thought I'd try. The light of the computer screen, you know.
I posted about Rome six days ago, and at the time promised to go on endlessly about our subsequent visits to the sites that were destroyed by Vesuvius in 79 AD, or as the secularists say, 79 CE. Since I'm a Latin guy though, I'm sticking with AD.
So, here goes. First there was a train ride from Rome to Naples, then a change for Pompeii. We had decided to stay in Pompeii, instead of Naples, for a couple of reasons. Number one is that Naples is pretty much of a shit hole, and I can't remember the second one.
Madrileños, unlike most denizens of big cities, are genuinely friendly and eager to talk about their city, Spain, and almost anything else you want to discuss. Our first night here, we had a discussion about journalism and its position as a profession in Spanish society over beers and a plate of olives at an outdoor cafe in the Plaza Mayor with a young man named José Angel. José Angel’s girlfriend is a journalist and he’s a carpenter, so he allowed as there was some friction with her parents over his “station” in life. I assured him that their positions would probably be reversed if he came to the United States and he’d be welcome to visit us anytime the in-laws got to be too much.
Kris and I went for the weekend in Valparaíso and stayed for the rain.
The three month long drought in Chile broke all over us last weekend. We took a two-hour bus trip to Valpo on Friday even though we'd been warned that the weather wasn't going to cooperate. I don't know why we didn't just postpone until the week. It's not like we have jobs or anything that makes us note the difference between weekends and weekdays, but, at least one of us is really stubborn.
When you think of just how dry and forbidding the Atacama desert is, you wonder why the hell anyone would live there. Maybe it makes sense now, because there are things like highways and trucks and bottled water you can bring in from a distance. And maybe now because there are vast deposits of copper and other minerals there, and the export of those minerals is to Chile what oil is to Saudi Arabia.
Our weekend trip to San Pedro de Atacama was a little anti-climactic for me. Evidently, I had eaten something which didn't agree with me sometime during the previous week and it sort of came on all of a sudden–and I do mean all of a sudden–on our second day of a three day trip. So, I did manage to see the geysers on day one, and the archeological sites on day three, but missed the Moon and Death Valleys on day two. Hell, I like geysers and ruins as much as the next guy, but abject desolation is really fascinating. And that's what I missed.
Often when your life is pretty easy, like ours is now, it's too easy to get lazy. And, as I look back on this blog and realize that I've been lazy enough to only write one thing in the last two months, I guess I'm the South American poster child for sloth.
For sometimes, it's too easy to just sit here in the apartment and look out over the city from the seventeenth floor, and just turn another page on my Kindle or load up another video on the computer instead of making the most of Santiago. (Of course, Santiago conspires to keep me in with its prodigious air pollution, which both aggravates my heretofore slight asthma and my heretofore young eyes.) Only a month to go here before a brief sojourn back to the US. Then we're moving somewhere else in Chile, like Viña del Mar, where there's enough of a city to be interesting, and enough of an ocean outside the front door for Kris to keep up her surfing.
I'm trying hard to figure out how to make this come off as something less than bitter, but the truth is that Kris and I could not be happier about leaving Ecuador.
Perhaps this joy is informed by the fact that tonight we were robbed for the fourth time since we've been here. For a little perspective: in the 31 years we lived in Minneapolis, we were robbed twice. In the seven months in Quito…well you do the math.
We were having sort of a bad day anyway. For some inexplicable reason, I've been trying for the last 30 days or so to renew our visas to stay here, but today I got the final “fuck you” from the Ecuadorian authorities.