Travels in Turkey - Part 10


The Physical change in Mehmet was unbelievable. No longer was he the laughing, happy boy I fell in love with, but became morose, surly and spent long periods deep in thought. I walked on eggshells for the first five days, then grasping the bull by the horns told him that, like it or lump it, there wasn't any choice and he had to be a soldier.

When you talk to Turkish boys before they go into the army, they are full of how much they want to defend their country, how they would die for Ata Turk and other patriotic words. Unfortunately, the reality hits home on the first day at the training camp. The conditions are appalling, the food not even suitable for the dogs, the hours relentless and even in their sleep, they wear full uniform, first to keep warm and secondly to be ready and standing to attention at any moment of the day or night.

Mehmet had lost over a stone in weight, was issued with a uniform and boots three sizes too big, was constantly coughing, sneezing and had stomach upsets. Alas, this still hasn't changed and speaking to someone last week, home for his first leave apart from knocking six months off the time, nothing has improved.

The idea of conscription is to initially keep Turkeys armed forces at full quota. Situated where she is, she has a lot to defend. There is also the point that enlisting lads of 19/20 into the army for eighteen months eases the unemployment problem which is rife in the country. They are paid a minimal wage (I think when Mehmet was away was £18 a month) and it is paid to the family at home~ not the soldier. There is also the romantic notion, that it turns the boy into a man.

Some of the boys do actually enjoy their stint in the army and become independent. Others learn useful trades which enable them to take up better paid employment when they leave. These are however few and far between and in sixteen years, I have only ever met two men who loved their time doing conscription.

Mehmet was one of the people who disliked it immensely and although he was able to do 150 press ups at the drop of a hat, it taught him very little else.

How did we pass those ten days? Fraught with difficulties about saying the wrong thing, spending long hours into the night listening to him, meeting friends, drinking far too much and of course enjoying long hours of unhurried love making.

The day before he was due back was like waiting for the executioners axe. We hardly spoke, each lost in our own thoughts. His mum wrapped herself in her headscarf and stayed in her room, the kids played up and Mehmet threatened to go AWOL.

On the actual evening he left, we drove into Fethiye to eat, stopped at his cousin's house to say goodbye and drove up to the hotel listening to unchained melody on the stereo. By this time, I was in tears. At the hotel, his mum was crying into a toilet roll, I was crying and even AJ decided to get in on the scene and started sniffling. Only callum remained calm and composed.

At eight o'clock I was told that Mehmet was going to get the bus and I was to stay in the hotel. I refused, screaming hysterically and eventually I was allowed into the car. We reached Fethiye bus station and all got on the coach. There was one other boy going back with Mehmet and he found seats. I was dragged onto the coach by Mehmet and despite his two brother's protests; he wouldn't let me get off. The driver, bless his heart drove me right out of Fethiye and as far as Zorba, which is some twenty miles down the road. I reluctantly got off still crying and the coach sped off into the darkness.

The brothers were waiting behind the coach with the car and I was led, wailing like a banshee into the back seat. Bayram gave me a lecture of how his father would react, if he knew and that no one had the money to pay my fare to Antalya, otherwise I could have gone that far. Biray. Just shrugged his shoulders and muttered about bloody women.

I couldn't go back to the hotel because with Mehmet's mum, it would have been a nightmare; the kids had already been put to bed so we went to visit a cousin who had an English girlfriend.

Vast quantities of Raki and floods of tears later I was taken home. I lay in bed crying my heart out and AJ came in to join me. I dozed off and some time later Biray came in to make sure I was ok. I woke the next morning, red eyed and still sniffing. It felt as if someone had simply ripped your heart out whilst you were alive. The feeling never went away and every time Mehmet came home again, it was the same scene.

I took the boys down to the beach and during that day and the next, the heartache began to fade.

Mehmet phoned the next day from miles away and told us he was being sent to Muþ and had another two days travelling to do. He spoke to the boys and his mum.

On the Friday the boys and I left for Istanbul and England. The journey was uneventful and we arrived tired and weary back home the following Monday.

A week later, I received a letter from Mehmet with his address and phone number. Every day I wrote him a letter and every day, I phoned Turkiye.

The weeks went by and one evening, he said to me I am coming home next week for seven days leave. Leaving the boys with my mum, I got a last minute flight out and flew to Dalaman, to be met by Mehmet.
We had some lovely days out together and with his mum. One day we had a picnic on the beach and even his dad joined in. All too soon, it was time to go home. He back to his tank driving and me to England.
And so we continued, snatching weeks and days wherever we could, making the most of every moment together if it was the last and the love grew stronger.

At home my phone bill was over £2.000 pounds for the quarter and then I had a phone call from Mehmet, saying he had a problem. He had taken a jeep, when he wasn't meant to be in it and had crashed it. The Turkish army wanted £1.000 for a new one and his father wouldn't pay. I had no way of finding the money and eventually his father did pay. He was sent home in disgrace and with gastric flu.

For reasons which I never got to the bottom of, Mehmet was discharged three months before his time and came home in early September.

I took the boys out for a month's holiday and worked in the hotel to pay for our keep. They were long days, with breakfasts at eight in the morning, then elevenses, lunch, cleaning rooms in between, dinner and then the bar until the early hours.

During the month I met some wonderful people staying at the hotel and still keep in touch with six of them. Mehmet and I returned to our pre-army days and everything was rosy.

By this time, we were engaged, Mehmet having sent me a ring which arrived on Valentines Day.

The year ended and I had a month already booked from March 2nd, the following year. I was so happy I even lost three stone in weight, without doing anything. Oh but if only we could see into the future, or how blinkered are we when it comes to love?

Two months passed and it was March. I flew into Istanbul on the 2nd to be met with crowds of people in the coach station and crying women. Yes, it was the day everyone goes off to the army. The sight of dozens of buses filled with young men driving through the streets led by Turkish musicians; with various family members hanging on to the buses is a sight to be seen. Even if you were not actually saying goodbye to anyone, you couldn't be anything but moved by the sights.
The bus took three hours to get out of Istanbul and once again we returned to Selçuk, where we had spent so many happy days two years before. On the way we spent three days in Izmir and visited the Lunar Park, where Mehmet lost his breakfast on the flying carpet and a man perched on a ten foot ladder took our picture from the top!

Life pretty much returned to normal with days out here and there, horse riding, shooting and even fishing with dynamite and plenty of raki.

We had two weeks in Kaþ which were wonderful and I caught my first fish~ a flying fish that whizzed towards me and frightened me to death. We visited the sunken city of Kekova and various other interesting sights.

I remember that it was Kurban Bayrami (feast of sacrifice) and Mehmet had to go home, to slaughter the sheep. We returned to Fethiye for one day, Mehmet went off and did the deed and the night we returned to Kaþ.

Things at home were strained between Mehmet and his father. They didn't speak to each other and actually had a fight during a game of football in the village.

His father no longer spoke to me or mehmet and the atmosphere at home was tense. In every Turkish family, there are problems. Nevzat unfortunately, had some problem with all his sons. The eldest Biray, had been engaged to a girl in Fethiye before he went off to the army, but on his return he dumped her. Unlike here where we simply move on, she was now classed as soiled or damaged goods and a large sum of money was given to her family. Bayram, the younger brother had met an English girl and fallen in love. Whilst at that time, it wasn't a problem, it very soon became one and of course there was Mehmet who was told to drop me and settle down with a Turkish girl, or not have any part in the family hotel.

Life isn't always what it seems and even paradise has drawbacks. Money was tight, as it is during the winter months and we lived on a pie made of greens and mainly vegetables. We were even reduced to smoking SDNS samsun cigarettes which were awful and a good reason to stop smoking.

And the month passed. I was going back in early May with the kids and my wonderful sister-in-law so I left my luggage and clothes at the hotel.

Back home, life continued as normal the divorce was finally being settled and we had stab ability at last. I was working, being a full time mother and the days quickly passed.

May came round and we all flew back to Turkiye. Two weeks with Mehmet and as usual everything was perfect. I found letters from other women, confronted Mehmet and in all honesty never had any doubts at all.

Returning home, I booked a week for that July and a month in September with Cathy. We exchanged letters and phone calls weekly and I still didn't suspect that anything was wrong. July came, I flew out and there was an atmosphere between Mehmet and I. Right from the very start of the relationship I have always insisted that regardless of how awful or bad something is, we would talk about it. Mehmet wouldn't speak to me and kept picking arguments. For the first time in five years we were not getting along, not communicating and Mehmet wouldn't say what the problem was. I was actually glad to get home where I could think and put things into perspective. Suspicions crept into my mind and slowly but surely everything made sense.

I spoke to Cathy and we agreed we would still go out for a month as it was booked and paid for. She understood my reasoning and assured me that things would be fine.

When we arrived, we were told that the hotel was fully booked and taken to a hotel miles away, which belonged to Biray's wife's family. Immediately, I was suspicious but went along with the arrangement. Mehmet said he was working every day and needed to stay at the hotel, so some nights he wouldn't be home.

Cathy and I spent the days at the beach and she the evenings with another Mehmet who she had met. I went to the hotel to see Mehmet and found him at the bar with an English woman. He completely ignored me and I sat miserable at the other end of the bar. A Turkish man started talking to me and asked Mehmet if I was available. He replied that I was anyone's. I was furious. Angry, upset and breaking my heart. When the Turkish guy suggested we went down the beach for a drink, I agreed. Ignoring Mehmet, I got into the guys Herbie and drove off. One thing led to another and we made love in the lagoon, under the stars. I returned to the hotel I was staying in and he went back to Mehmet's. A few hours later, Mehmet came in and woke me up. He asked where I had been and I told him. I just said that we had had a drink down at the beach. He told me I was a prostitute and that we were finished. I told him exactly what I thought of him and paid for it. He was drinking and spent the whole night, shouting at me, hitting me and swallowing fast quantities of Raki. I huddled in the corner of the room, refusing to cry and took it all.

He left early that morning saying he was taking the woman to the airport because she was going home. On the way out, he locked the bedroom door.

I called across to Cathy's room and she went and got a spare key to let me out. When I walked into the restaurant with a black eye, all the Turkish woman mad soothing noises, the Turkish men just shrugged. As I ate breakfast, Mehmet returned and ordered me back to the room. I went. He didn't hit me again, still said we were finished and that now I was to move back to his hotel for the remaining two weeks. Cathy stayed where she was.

I remember those two weeks passed very slowly. Mehmet was carrying on as if nothing was the matter, he slept with me every night but we didn't go out anywhere. Years before we had promised to tell each other everything and I was told the full details. The woman was older than me, slept with anyone and made a play for mehmet. He said that he was going to fly to England to see her and that she would be back there for Christmas. Cathy and I had already discovered her name, scrawled on the walls of Harry's bar stating that she bonked like a rabbit! I am sure there were tears and arguments but it was a relief to get back to the airport and fly home.

How I managed to put it on the side as history, I don't know. I worked harder, saved some money and decided that whatever had happened I would still go to turkiye.

Christmas came and went and I received a present from Mehmet's mum and socks for the boys. I knew she was deeply unhappy about the whole situation, but there was nothing I could do. His brother's kept in touch and I tried to resume the life I had before I met him.
Winter turned to spring, spring to summer and one day the phone rang. It was Mehmet. He told me that he wanted me back, loved me, and had made a big mistake and that I could stay there in the hotel free of charge.

All my friends advised me against going, my mum was horrified but the whole sorry saga had never been settled properly and I hate loose ends.

So, I flew back for a month. Mehmet was waiting at the airport and declared undying love. He had changed, became very attentive and nothing I wanted was too much problem. I was given the full run-down of the affair, assured it would never happen again and life once again ran on well oiled wheels. That month was the best of the whole seven years we were together. We planned schools for the kids, another baby and a future together in Turkiye.

Yes, I went back to Mehmet but this time I was very wary. Every dog is allowed one bite and Mehmet had taken his. I took nothing for granted and demanded a lot. We were soon back to the comfortable relationship we had shared before, but that special magic had been tarnished forever.


September 1993


Senior Member
oh Jen
What a read! I've been glued to the pc for ages. Had to read each and every chapter.
Is there more? God this is like a Best Seller!


Senior Member
Ooow Anne

Jenni is up to about Part 21 but that's not good enough for me, I have been waiting bloody months for the next one!!;) They're good eh? Got me hooked:D




Senior Member
These are so good Jenni - you definately missed your vocation in life as I'm hooked just like Gail. Your transcripts transport me back to Turkey and the place and people I love. I recognise so many traits and characteristics of my friends and is heartening to hear the similarities - you definately have a gift, please don't stop, cos we want more [:X]