The Untold Story of Steve the Saz, part does it even matter, this story is endless.

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Like stretching in the cave ever wasn’t weird.

We woke up sore.

Really, really sore. Sore enough to question how good our friendship was, and if massages were acceptable. Not yet.

“No post today… What’d you guys do?” NOTHING.

But the great thing about living in a cave is the stretches you can do against the walls. And ceiling. And floors, and windows, and everywhere rocky because it all feels like the ground. Which led to ten minutes of absolute absurdity as we ached to stretch the correct aching muscles.

We questioned the appropriateness of uploading these photos… But then decided there is nothing less sexy that these pictures or the tan lines in them.




Exhausted. I can play mountain climber for about four hours, but that is IT. Thank god Adam’s thoughts of horseback riding and then taking motorcycles and a bottle of wine up the cliff for the sunset didn’t pan out (not kidding).

There are a lot of bugs here. A lot of flies, and a lot of bees. Always around us. I like to think the food must be fresher here, thus the surplus of bees. We talk often about the Bee-to-Mouth ratio.

But here’s the thing, I’m exhausted. So this monologue happened at lunch today as poor Andrea watched me crack up to the point of tears.

I’m going to write a children’s book about a bee named Humblebee. He’s going to have a shy friend named Mumblebee, and they’ll go on adventures.

And then, if it’s a series, they’ll have more friends. Like that hot mess friend? She’ll be Jumblebee.

And of course, don’t forget their depressing emo friend Numblebee.

There will be the clumsy twins Tumblebee and Fumblebee…

The cook will be Crumblebee, and that one with digestive issues?


Yep. That’s where I’m at, kinda a Dumblebee.


New heights. Part five.


Our parents.

We stop at a pottery workshop, because this day just gets greater. We learn about the three important things in any art: patience, respect and love. It takes twelve years to become a master pottery maker. Andrea gets up and makes what turns out to be a cereal bowl. It was beautiful, and the entire tour group sighed with disappointment when she didn’t get to keep it.

We end the tour, exhausted, on one more patch of land overlooking Cappadocia’s valleys as the sun goes down. An absolutely perfect day. The night to follow would include winding down with our Efes, talk about life at our perch above the pool, Adam and family sitting, chatting, below. We talk to Adam about differences in cultures, family life, friendships. Being open to talking to new people, new experiences. Laughing. Being funny while still being nice, sincere. The American girlfriend he once had. Overcoming barriers such as language, geography, culture. We went for a late dinner to the third brother’s restaurant, at a discount (though not free, this was not a date). Just a day of memorable experiences and conversation.

From an unbelievable sunrise to an astounding sunset… No complaints here.







New heights. Part four.

We’ve had an unbelievable day, already. Balloons at sunrise, underground cave, and I’ve beat my fear of heights and dying twice so far. Adam had started the day by telling Andrea and I “you’ll never forget this in your life.”

Our new family for the day is perfect. Dad tells me to keep up with Andrea, walking at the front of the pack. “Go up with your friend. Keep together. Keep smiling.” Mom has the heartiest, greatest laugh, made better by the fact she’s sarcastic and cracks herself up.

Our gorgeous valley walk ends at a small house/restaurant. We sit for a long time, chatting with our family, laughing. Pang, the youngest new friend, and I bond over having hard-to-introduce names. Hers is pronounced as though you’re mixing a “p” and “b” sound at the same time, and we laugh over our tendency to use fake names at Starbucks. “But then, you’re staring off in space, and they’re calling “Sam, grande mocha for Sam… SAM.”

In the van, Andrea, Adam and I share the back bench and learn about each other. Adam: “It is… My life strategy. I ask you what music you like and your hobbies. And then, maybe I know you.” We dance to the music we share. We talk about how I like to write. He says maybe someday I’ll write a book that has covers with pages inside.


We’ve stopped at multiple sights by now, and we pull up to a winery. Toast with Adam and his brother, the driver, also our chef every morning at breakfast. Adam says when he looks at Andrea, he can tell she is the crazy one. I’m appalled. “I’ve climbed MOUNTAINS with you today, and SHE is the crazy one?”

Picture Turkish accent, slowly thought out sentences.

“Well, she looks crazy, fun. You, you are different. Your outside and inside are very different, I think. I think, when I see you, ‘She is serious. Boring maybe.’ But then, we talk, and inside, you are very fun, and that comes out. And when you climb, you are wild.”

I’m having flashbacks of three years ago, when in broken English, someone told me his ideal date was “an average looking girl with a great personality,” moments before asking for my number.

Back in the van, post winery, Adam flatters Andrea and I more, as he eats seeds straight from a dried out sunflower. “You see, in my job, not everyone wants to talk to me. And some days, its very serious and boring. Usually, I am only saying there is the valley, those are the fairy chimneys, this is the church (“WAIT, we could have been learning historical information today?”) but you make it seem like we are old friends. Like one or two years already. There is this positive energy around you. So, thank you for making me… Be myself.”

Side note, to my side as I write is Andrea. “You’re kidding me. You’re kidding me. The new iCal I just started? In Arabic. HOW DOES IT KNOW.” The girl needs to get back to the states.

Scenery photos at various stops…



Up next, another valley (names escape me, I’ll mark them down later) with a massive rock shaped like a camel.


And when I decline to climb it, Adam is disappointed in me. Andrea has a long discussion about his disappointment in me.


“She comes to me, and says help me, I am a poor, boring American girl in need of stories. And I say lady, I have many people to entertain today, but I’ll do my best to help you. And then, she becomes a master climber and doesn’t need me anymore, and she will go make her millions with her book that has covers and pages with words. And it is fine, I don’t need my favorite climber, another will come along. I will go home tonight, drink one bottle of red wine, and be done with her.” Andrea does her best to egg this along. “I know, just look at the way she’s walking now, her nose in the air like that. Look at her.”


Granted, I was getting a little independent.


Look for part five, when the day wraps up.

New heights. Part three.

We’re on our way to lunch. We find cave church, one after the other. We pose, we climb, we laugh. It continues to be a fantastic day.




And then Adam, our Tarzan the Tour Guide, finds somewhere new to climb.


And wow, is he high, but god, that looks really, really awesome. And suddenly Andrea is saying “Janae, your parents, your parents… Forget that… RYAN IS GOING TO KILL ME.”

But… I’m going up! And up, and up. To the panicked “the first thing he ever said to me was KEEP YOU SAFE! And I can’t do that with you up there!!!” coming from below. With Adam saying, who is that, because if it’s boyfriend, man, I wouldn’t let her go anywhere. She is too crazy.



It was… Nothing I’d ever done or thought to do before. Second-story scaffolding on my Habitat for Humanity trip in January had made me dizzy. But not today.

And then, we climbed down, and went to lunch, and it was only 2:15. Many, many more stories tomorrow.

New heights. Part two.

We’re at this amazing cave church, up these significantly steep steps. But suddenly, Adam is Tarzan, and scales the side of the hill in no time. It’s easy, he says. Easier the faster you move. I’ve done it since I was a little kid. And soon, Andrea and I are far above our new family members, and soon after, it’s just Adam and I. Really, really high.


And higher still.



And this is our view. Far, far above anyone else.


And as we tell Adam not to jump from one cliff to another, caring friends that we are, …


We learn a new phrase. One for new friends, for people you care about and care about you. I made him autograph my journal with it. Beni kalbimden vurden.

“You shoot me from the heart.”

And we climb down, and I in my Greek sandals, got stuck on the side of the cliff, but it was incredible. Such a freeing, fun, so fun, experience.

Plus, everything, everything we’re seeing today? Breathtakingly gorgeous.




And next thing you know, our careful, non-climbing family friends are eating green apples straight off a tree. And I just scaled a steep cliff, and we’re giggly, and Andrea is wondering what happened to her friend this summer to suddenly make her adventurous, and when handed an apple from our mom, we’ve never had one any better. It’s an absolutely perfect day.



A different view of the churches we’d scaled previously…


But we weren’t done climbing. Look for part three.

New heights. Part one.

We should have known the next 24 hours were going to be amazing when we sat down for dessert at an outdoor cafe last night, opened our menus, and fireworks started bursting in the background. Only for two minutes, but they definitely happened.

I’ve had a string of really, really good days. Upwards in the ninety-straight area – Andrea called it “buckets of positive energy” today – but nothing could have prepared me for today. Today was constantly insane, moving, increasingly more impacting and memorable every hour.

After our hot air balloon morning, which will remain unwritten until I can fathom how to do it justice, Andrea and I sat eating our breakfast. We had booked a tour with a local but major Cappadocia touring company. The pregnant woman who runs the hostel approached us. With a nervous giggle, she asked if there was a reason we’d chosen that specific tour- the hostel’s special local tour was running today. Having no specific reason why we’d chosen one over another, and factoring in our need to support this unborn child, we switched to the hostel specific tour. Why not.

At 9:40a.m., we hop in the hostel’s van. It’s us and a six-person family from Thailand. A 31-yr-old and her parents, and possibly aunt/uncle? Immediately, mom showers us with hard candies with images of teenage male models on them. Says they are marketed toward girls our age, not children.

Adam, our tour guide, introduces himself. In Turkish, his name sounds more like uh-dem, and shockingly, my name gives him no trouble, but “Andrea” is the tough one.

We arrive at our first stop on the tour – an underground city. One of hundreds in Cappadocia, but one of the less toured ones. It’s cold in these underground cities, cold and dark. We have a guide specific to this place – I dont know his name but he was creepy and loony as could be.

Case in point, he made me crawl into this hole, and then organized the rest of the group to line up so I’d have to crawl through their legs to make my escape.


What followed this little experience was Thai dad getting in the same hole, and when the legs started being directed to make a tunnel, mom being stricken. “No, no Thai man goes under woman.” And me feeling uncomfortably crass for being so whatever about it moments before.

And the fun doesn’t stop there. Ask Andrea about the time the lamp-carrying guy disappeared for minutes only to stick his hands out of hidden holes and grab her.


Yeah, this guy was full of tricks. We reach a decision point. You may take the path to the door, or climb five stories out. Well, obviously, Andrea and I are climbing out. And the family? They say hell no, you crazy bleeps. We’ll meet you outside.

Enjoy these claustrophobic climbing photos.





Three different levels we climbed, us and our crazy (cray-cray-crazy) tour guide. One climb even required a belt around us, and our tour guide was always so helpful in getting us up that last step. After nightmares on public transportation this week, Andrea stated “at least we BOTH got groped this time.” Enjoy escape from too small cave below.


At our second stop, we scaled some extremely steep and smooth steps to an amazing cave church. Amazing. Our adoptive family for the day made the trip up those steps.


And this is where things reach new heights. Look for Part Two.