Cappadocia: Hot-air Ballooning
It’s a rare day I’m up before daybreak. It’s an even rarer day I voluntarily expose myself to the cold; being an island girl, I’m literally not built for it (or so I like to say). Today is that rarest of days when I’m not only eager to arise at 4:30am, but also willing to stand outside in the 35°F (2° C) cold.
It’s incredibly dark, save for a single lamp hanging above the coffee table. Faye, Jed, and I chat with Bruno and Geronimo, our new Argentinean friends, in an unnamed valley in Kapadokya (Turkish for Cappadocia), poking fun at Kamille and Missy hiding in the van. A slow, distant rumbling indicates an approaching vehicle in this rocky terrain. And across the dry plateau, I see our basket being unloaded off a trailer. Before long, a flat green canvas grows into an oversized balloon.
With the arrival of faint morning light, the very first balloon floats into the air, rising up to meet the moon. And as we inch our way off the ground, other balloons become visible beyond the hill.
The sun ambles up slowly, higher and higher into the sky, and we match its leisurely pace. The balloon drifts with the wind, up, down, left, and right. The view grows more and more spectacular the longer we drift, the higher we climb.
As dawn breaks over the horizon and the panorama grows increasingly visible, one can’t help but marvel at nature. The passing of time seems irrelevant from my daily perspective, but the rock formations below are evidence that time is very relevant: The rocky terrain is riddled with peaks, points, pillars, cones, balancing boulders, and volcanic ash naturally shaped into towers called fairy chimneys. The craggy landscape is so photogenic that it doesn’t matter if none of my photographs are taken with an actual camera (Dear iPhone, how do I love thee?).
Kapadokya, thank you for this unforgettable experience.