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Old 28th September 2004, 15:06   #1 (permalink)
LİVİNG İN PARADİSE
 
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Travels in Turkey - Part 7

When Cathy and I arrived at the airport in September, it was hot. Neither of us had been out in such temperatures before and it was uncomfortable and clammy.

We didn't need to buy a visa this time round, as a visa is valid for six months and we would be returning to England before the expiry date. With no queue to join, we simply walked through passport control, picked up our luggage and waving at the customs men (a smile and a wave works wonders people!) we stepped out into bright white sunshine.

The usual crowd of Turkish men, lost reps and taksi drivers lingered in the midday heat. Waving them all aside, Cathy and I scanned the crowd for Mehmet.

He was, perched in his usual place holding forth with Fedai and acknowledged our arrival with a wave of his hand and a smile that lit up his whole face.

Having waited four long months for this moment, I wanted to run towards him, throw my arms around him and I did neither. It is simply, very bad manners to show your affection in public and I didn't want to make a show of myself. Strolling casually towards them, lugging our suitcases Cathy and I stood by the steps and waited.

With a final word to Fedai, Mehmet stood up shook my hand kissed me on both cheeks and told us to follow him. He and Fedai walked off arm in arm to the car park leaving Cathy and I to stagger with the cases. Quite the gentlemen. Luckily Mehmet's uncle who was the driver came to our rescue.

The car was baking. Never being aware that I could possibly have once been a jacket potato, I knew exactly how they felt. We couldn't sit on the seats without burning our legs; everything was red hot to touch and to add insult to injury the car had been parked in the shade of an olive tree for best part of two hours!

Eventually with much moaning and squealing from Cathy and me, we were seated in the car. Fedai was sat in the front, Cathy and the suitcases on the back seat and for reasons best known to himself, Mehmet and I were laying full length in the boot!

It is a common mode of transport in turkiye, with estate cars and on a good night out, cramming six in the boot, five on the back seat and two plus a driver can be achieved for maximum effect. It is not to be recommended if any of the party are feeling queasy………………..

We drove out of the airport, stopping to pay the parking attendant and on to the road to Dalaman.Regular visitors will know that there is a short cut to the Fethiye road and we set off down the pot-holed track. Every bump making the cases jump and Mehmet bang his head on the roof.

We pulled up in front of Tavuk restaurant or chicken shop to you innocents. It is a simple restaurant selling mainly spit roasted chickens with rice pilaf, although other food is available.

Climbing out of the boot we entered the restaurant and sat down at a plastic table, on a plastic chair. A jug of water was placed between us and we drank it gratefully. Good food, cheap prices but the Ritz it isn't. Mehmet asked us if we wanted Chicken and Cathy and I both said yes.

The order was given in Turkish and we sat back and talked. When the food arrived, Cathy and I were surprised to see that she and I had half a chicken between us, yet Mehmet, Fedai and the uncle had a whole one each!

Not wanting to appear rude, Cathy and I said nothing. It was only when the boys started eating food off of our plates that we protested. It is common in turkiye to be offered a portion as in a whole serving for the man and a half portion for women!!! Cathy and I soon picked up on this and whenever we went out to eat on our own, we would order the full portion. After all, we had to keep our strength up!

After lingering and drinking çay, me the traditional Turkish type and Cathy the sweet apple variety, we got back in the car to drive to the hotel. This time, I insisted that the cases went in the boot and that Mehmet and I sat on the back seat with Cathy.

Arriving at the hotel, Cathy and I were met by Mehmet's mum, his brother Bayram and his older brother Biray who was home on leave from the army. We were given the same rooms again and went off to unpack, have a shower and make ourselves beautiful.

No sooner had I got into the room, than Mehmet was there. No words were spoken; we simply ripped each others clothes off and made passionate love. After the third time, I protested that Cathy would be waiting downstairs for us. With a smile, Mehmet simply replied that Fedai was in her room.

Whatever problems I had left behind in England, whatever doubts I had about the relationship with Mehmet, they were all unfounded. We had and still have something special, we don't need to talk and read each others minds, like our own. We were soul mates then and I believe still are.

Eventually, we had a shower, got ourselves dressed and strolled downstairs. Mehmet made tea and we sat watching the sun go down and up and down the village, lights appeared in the darkness. Time passed and it was a little after 8pm, when Cathy appeared and behind her a beaming Fedai. No need to ask what they had been up to, - it was obvious he had been looking at her etchings!

It was decided that we would walk down to Hisaronu to eat that evening and we asked Biray to drive us.
On reaching the village, we went into one of the only restaurants in the place which was mainly Turkish, apart from chips! We ordered wine with the meal and ate, drank and talked until well after midnight. The boys suggested that we went to the disco, but Cathy and I had other ideas and insisted that we wanted an early night; after all we had traveled a long way that day and needed to sleep.

The dolmus in those days, stopped running at 10pm. The boys hated spending money, even it wasn't theirs so the four of us set off walking uphill to the hotel. On a good day, it should take at the most 20 minutes. With the quantities of wine we had consumed, two ladies giggling uncontrollably, it took over an hour.

Soon the hotel came in sight and we were told, by Mehmet to be quiet. No words were spoken, a simple gesture of a finger to his lips and the raising of his eyebrows.

It is impossible to walk on gravel quietly and every crunch was followed by furtive glances into the dark, to see if we had woken Mehmet's father. Not seeing a light on, we approached the stairs and there he was. The watchman! Putting our hands on our hearts, in mock gestures of shock, we bade him good morning and walked upstairs.

This was to be the first full night Mehmet and I had ever spent together. It was a moment well worth waiting for and cemented our love completely. He wasn't on the Rota for breakfast next morning, his father was going into Fethiye and his mum, wouldn't say a word.

I was shaken awake at 6am by a fully dressed Mehmet. Sleepily asking him if he was going to work, he replied no, but get dressed for the beach. I tried to lure him back to the warmth of the bed, but he was having none of it and pulled all the blankets off.

Protesting loudly, I staggered into the bathroom to have a shower. I was told, no time for that, we are going. Going where? Wait and see, came the reply and he left the room. Staggering down the stairs five minutes later, I was met by Mehmet's smiling mum, who handed me a carrier bag, a towel and told me to have a nice time. This woman never ceased to amaze me. She was told nothing, yet knew everything.

I was told to get in the car and we drove out of the hotel, his mum waving from the driveway. First I thought Mehmet had taken the car without his father's knowledge. He had, but his father had long gone and wouldn't know we had used it. The worry dissolved, I sat back to enjoy myself.

We drove down to the beach an along the front. It wasn't pedestrianised in those days and a dirt track led from the present Crusoes to where the Pizza restaurant and camp are today. We pulled up alongside a small café and went in for breakfast.

I was welcomed by the Turkish boy, who informed me that he didn't recognize me, with my clothes on! Seeing my confusion, he explained that we had met on the beach last April, with the children and that he was a friend of Mehmet's. I do remember laying on the beach and being asked if I was Jenni, because the guy asking had seen a photograph of me!

We had a typical Turkish breakfast, six cups of çay to follow and when the sun finally put in an appearance, Mehmet said it was time to go. Paying a ridiculous low price for the meal, we got in the car and drove back as far as Crusoes.

Turning right, we drove up what is now the main road towards Paradise beach. I have spent many romantic nights, sat in cars on this road and if it is scenery you are looking for, you won't find a better vista.

We stopped before we reached the main camp site, parked the car and grabbing the bag, walked through a hole in the wire fence. We found a lovely spot by the rocks and sat down to watch the sun rise.

We talked, swam, drank coca cola from a bottle, played backgammon and made love. I remember us, sitting stark naked on the beach, the morning chill blowing white horses on the waves and Mehmet telling me that, it didn't matter how long it took for the divorce to come through, because he would wait ten years for me.

When the sun had risen high and specks of people could be seen on Olu Deniz Beach, Mehmet said it was time to go. Leaving that wonderful beach, which still brings the memories back as if it was yesterday, we gathered our belongings and headed back to the car and hotel.

We found Cathy and Fedai, sat together eating breakfast. A nod from both in acknowledgment and they carried on talking. Mehmet headed for the kitchen and I went upstairs to take a shower.

Coming down clean and refreshed, I met Fedai leaving to go to work in the hotel over the road. Cathy and I discussed our plans for the day and chose to go shopping in Fethiye.

The boys would be busy all day, so we arranged to meet them back at the hotel some time that evening, but before 6pm.Waving goodbye, we set off to flag down a passing dolmus and do some retail therapy.

Fethiye market was a wonderful mixture of sights, sounds, smells and had an atmosphere of days long gone by. It wasn't modernized with fancy paving then and our path was dotted with an assortment of obstacles. Dodging pieces of 4x2 wood, various lengths of rope, hoards of people and the odd hand pulled cart, pilled high with hot pastries, coupled with the searing heat, left Cathy and I feeling drained.

We finished our bargain hunting, bartering shamelessly with stolen kisses, the odd cigarette and in Cathy's case, an obscure phone number. Leaving the heaving market behind, we strolled into the main streets of Fethiye in search of food and refreshment.

Fethiye is a web of little streets all running into each other, criss crossing at various points and a wonderful place to get lost. We found the Meðri restaurant and spent two hours over a late lunch of meze, which Cathy accompanied with her customary chips. Meze, if you don't know, is various dishes ranging from Taramasalta, Cacik (pronounced Jajik) which is yoghurt, garlic and cucumber, a very hot tomato salsa whose name escapes me, but it blows the roof of your mouth off! To anchovies and Russian salad.

It is a cheap, filling way of eating and with a loaf of Turkish bread, can keep you going for a good five hours. To eat in a proper Turkish manner, you need to linger at least three hours over a good meal, intercepting the eating with drinking, talking and the customary smoking. I have always been a slow eater, but now I run on tortoise power, even at home.

Our meal finished, Cathy and I wondered the little streets, window shopping, looking at leather coats and making the most of our retail therapy. Leaving the main shopping area, we walked towards the dolmus station, which at that time was placed behind the Main Post office. It has at various times, been moved everywhere, but the present position is far the most easiest.

Strolling past a lokanta (Turkish restaurant) I was surprised to hear someone call my name. Turning towards a completely strange man, I said yes. He gestured that there was a phone call for me and looking bewildered, I went to answer rather warily. I had no idea who was on the other end, no one had a number for me and mobile phones quite simply hadn't been invented.

Taking a deep breath, I said ‘hello'. Back came Mehmet's voice and I looked round the restaurant to see him. He asked where we had been, told me what I had bought and I thought ‘Jesus Christ'. I asked him where he was and he replied the hotel. More confused than ever, I was told to stay where we were and he and Fedai would come down to Fethiye to meet us.

I had conveyed to Cathy who was on the phone, told her we were to stay put and sat down in the lokanta and ordered Coca Cola!In those days, the only other choice was Yedigun, a Turkish product of saccharine laden orange juice. There we sat and waited and waited.
We actually sat for two hours, like obedient school girls and it was dusk when Mehmet and Fedai arrived panting, hot from the dolmus.

Getting up from the table, we paid the bill(hesap) and strolled hand in hand towards the harbour or what Cathy and I know as the promenade. The name for this came about, because on Sundays and rest days, Turkish men love to stroll, watching the world and his wife walk by. Their own wives in these matters being safely tucked away at home – where they belong.

Stopping to look at the boats, exchange pleasantries with friends we walked. Mehmet and Fedai, as is customary six paces in front, Cathy and I lagging behind. We reached the part where the Turkish Navy is constantly moored and Fedai said that, he wanted to go into the navy, rather than the army. Not having any idea what he was talking about, Cathy asked him to explain.

The boys then explained that as they were Turkish, they would be called up to do 24 months in the army as conscripts. They would not be allowed any contact with home for the first 90 days and their pay was sent home to the family. Being English and used to freedom, Cathy and I expressed our horror.

Neither of the boys could see anything wrong with conscription and both vowed that they would fight for their country until death. I had realized that Turks are very patriotic, but it still seemed barbaric to us genteel English women. Luckily, they both said that they were not expecting to be called up before March 1992. Breathing a sigh of relief Cathy and I said we thought it was time to go home.

The boys agreed and we turned and headed back the way we had come. Mehmet stopping to buy me half a dozen balloons and I generously gave them all one each.

The reason for the balloons is that fresh flowers in Turkiye do not last more than a day because of the heat. They are expensive and in all our seven years together, Mehmet only ever gave me one.

Finding a dolmus that ready to leave for Ovacik, was sooner said than done. We found a parked one, boarded and sat there for 45 minutes before the driver was satisfied that he had enough customers to make it worth his while.

It was two cold, tired women who arrived back at the hotel at 11pm. We had both dozed off on the dolmus and were rudely poked awake by the boys, approaching Ovacik. Climbing out of the dolmus we staggered up the stairs to our rooms and collapsed.

Sleep alas eluded us. We were told to get a shower and changed and to be back downstairs in 20 minutes. Shrugging our shoulders, we complied. A strange thing about Turkish men is that they are either constantly on the move, or do nothing all day long. It is very hard to come to some sort of compromise and I never have. Not liking to miss out on anything, I am always ready for anything.

By now Cathy and I had realized that it was a waste of time dolling yourself up like a dogs dinner and she had even given in and left her make up off. Unlike me, my sister in law puts her face on first thing in the morning so she really was going natural. There we stood in jeans and tee-shirts, ready to dance the night away.

Our escorts where nowhere to be seen. Asking Mehmet's brother of their whereabouts, we were told ‘ah they got a lift down to the disco; you have to walk down there and meet them'. Oh just great. We could have turned our heels and gone to bed, lesser women would have chosen this option, but Cathy and I are always game for a laugh so best foot forward, arm in arm we strolled down the mountain towards Hisaronu.
The night was cool and reaching half way we paused outside a disco that we had been told, never to go in. Had we been told why, we wouldn't have dreamed of entering, but not knowing the reason we made a joint decision to vist at a later date.

Reaching the disco, we found Mehmet and Fedai sat outside on the roof drinking beer. Grabbing a beer from the bar, we joined them and sat watching the stars and the lights of the village.

What you may be thinking is strange behaviour, is perfectly normal to a turk. When you analyse the facts, we would think twice about sitting on a roof top at night drinking because it isn't in our nature. In turkiye when the heat of the summer gets too hot, they sleep out on the roof. Unfortunately, it has resulted in people rolling off and killing themselves.

Never question a Turks behaviour because they are very rational people. Extremely well balanced people, very adapt at changing to suit
Circumstances and on the whole a very happy nation. They find pleasure in the simple things in life and it is a lesson that we could do well to learn in England today.

As most good things come to an end, so did that night. Mehmet and I spent many hours together and formed a special bond, that has never been broken.
He and Fedai both came to the airport when we flew home, Fedai presenting Cathy with a ring (which she wasn't happy about) and Mehmet gave me my one and only red rose from him, with a box which I was told not to open until the plane took off.

I hate Dalaman airport. To me it is a place of tears and misery and the only brief happiness is arriving at the start. Once again two tear stained, wailing women waited in depatures for a flight to be called.

When I did open the box, it contained a gold padlock with a key. The words on the card simply said, you have the key to my heart and always will.

<center>Jenni</center>

September/October 1990
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