Monday, May 12, 2008

Whoa!

A
n exclamantion I never had to utter because I was riding on the slowest horse on four legs :-) This is Yildiz ("Yil-does"), my mount for our two hour ride through the Rose and White Valleys in Cappadocia.

The day before, when Lei and I were walking to the Göreme Open Air Museum, I had noticed horses and riders galloping in one of the valleys. In planning for the trip, I hadn't come across any mention of horseback riding in Cappadocia so I never considered it. After seeing the riders, I made a mental note to check with the folks back at Kelebek Pension to see if I could arrange for a ride. Going on horseback through Cappadocia would be a memorable experience....and as our luck would have it, Kelebek could make the arrangements for us!!

From Kelebek, we were picked up by one of the ranch hands and taken to the ranch. Immediately, we were introduced to our guide, Ilkeş ("Ill-kesh), and the horses. Lei would be riding on Nuray ("New-rai") and Ilkeş on Çiçek ("Chi-check"). With help from the ranch hands, we mounted our horses and headed out towards the White Valley.



I was excited to be able to ride into the valley. Visions of trotting and galloping in wide open spaces with the wind running through my hair. Spectacular scenery would provide the backdrop. By alas, it was not to be. I had the slowest horse on the planet. We clopped along at a pace that I thought I could crawl faster than. For the most part, I could enjoy the scenery if I looked either to my right or to my left. If I looked straight ahead, all I could see were the backsides of the two riders and horses ahead of me. So sad :-(

Unfortunately, no matter how much Ilkeş and Lei called out to Yildiz and I tap his sides, he would not move any faster than snail's pace. It was all pretty comical. Sometimes, we lagged so far behind that I lost sight of both Ilkeş and Lei. I wasn't worried though. Trail horses are so accustomed to their route that they know their way home....at least I hoped that was the case with Yildiz :-)























I gave up with Yildiz and just let him have his way. It was a sunny day and pleasantly cool. I sat back in my saddle to enjoy the ride and soak in the scenery. More of the amazing volanic cones and pinnacles that dot the landscape of Cappadocia. Somehow, I never got tired of seeing the landscape - I thought it rather magical and fantastical.






















Every now and again, Yildiz would just stop in his tracks to take a bite or two or three..... He's a stubborn one. If I yanked on the reins to try and stop him from eating, he would neigh at me....at it was definitely not a happy neigh! At one point, I had to dismount and walk Yildiz down a hill which was quite slippery from loose sand. Since I was in the lead, I was worried Yildiz would slip and fall down over me but I guess he's been down this path so often, he knew what steps to take. We descended with ease.









































 

Because I always lagged so far behind them, I never really got a chance to speak with either Ilkeş or Lei about their riding experience but they looked like they were enjoying themselves. I was particularly concerned about Lei as we only decided at the very last second to go horseback riding and she was not a very experienced rider. Fortunately it was a relatively easy ride - even though her horse, Nuray, was described by Ilkeş as "the problem child". Not sure exactly what he meant but I was hoping we wouldn't learn the hard way. Turned out Nuray behaved herself the whole time except for a brief moment when we were trotting through town and she was spooked by a passing bus. Off she took with Lei hanging on for dear life! It was during that brief sprint that Lei also lost her beloved white sweater - something she had bought in Morocco and wore with her on every trip. No worries though as it would shortly be replaced by her (now beloved) "Clint Eastwood" shawl!































It was a short two hour ride but oh so enjoyable and relaxing. Towards the end, it started to drizzle. Fortunately, we arrived back at the ranch before it really began to pour. I dismounted, rubbed Yildiz on the cheek and gave my thanks to Ilkeş. Lei and I headed back to town.