Travels in Turkey - Part 15


On reaching the hotel, we were met by Mehmet's brother and mother. Neither looked very happy and a babble of Turkish soon told me that there were problems. Mehmet pushed his brother aside and went upstairs with the bags. I sat down while Mehmet's mum, looking very upset and flustered made çay.

It would be wise to tell you now, that the previous October Mehmet's younger brother had secretly flown to England to be with his pregnant girlfriend-now his wife. Unfortunately, Mehmet's father was the only one, not in the know and he had now found out. Although I was not the perpetrator of the deed I had given him a large chunk of funding.
How he had found out was quite simple. Bayram was now the proud father of a little girl and had phoned his mum, to tell her.

Whenever she inadvertedly said something, or Mehmet's father had overheard it all came out in the wash. Mehmet came back downstairs and joined us. We all sat there waiting for Nevzat to come back. We made small talk but it soon petered out. I know that all four of us were to blame and that Nevzat should have been told, but being the pig-headed man he is, he would only have stopped Bayram from leaving the country. The mood was sombre as we waited for the head of the family to arrive.

Some two hours later, he drove up. No-one moved and it took a lot of determination, not to stand up and run. Before he had climbed out of the car, he was ranting and raving. Mehmet's mum physically cowered, Biray stood up, Mehmet drank his tea and I tried to curl up as small as possible. I wasn't frightened of the man, because he was a bully but the smaller I appeared, the more chance I had of escaping without some acid comment from him.

How long he stood there shouting, gesturing and going red I don't know. Mehmet's mum shot off into the house as soon as he started but the boys stood and listened to him. They were not allowed to talk and if they did, Nevzat just shouted above them.

After what seemed like hours, Nevzat turned away as if the subject was now closed, got back in the car and drove off. What had transpired was that Bayram was not to be mentioned again, was not to have his calls answered, no-one was to contact him and as far as Nevzat was concerned he could rot in hell.

Never having been confronted in this way, ever before I was physically exhausted. I felt sympathy for Mehmet's mum who was ordered to cut her youngest son out of her life and was unable to see her second grand daughter. I could understand Nevzat's anger, which was not because Bayram had gone, but because he had defied him. Bayram wasn't a kid of 16 or 17 he was 21 years old. He had tried to talk to his father about wanting or needing to be with Lana and she had worked in the hotel until she was seven months pregnant, under Nevzat's nose. It was totally irrational, but Nevzat was and still is unyielding. Age has not mellowed him one iota.

Telling Mehmet I was going for a shower, I went to find his mum. She was in tears and I consoled her as best I could. Apart from being dealt a lousy hand of cards, she alone would have to put up with Nevzat's bullying and anger. Unfortunately, a large number of Turkish men see their women as mere chattels and do hit them as a matter of course. Needless to say, Nevzat was one.

I turned on the shower, took my clothes off and stepped into the hot spray. It was impossible to think that only a few hours ago, Mehmet and I had been having a wonderful time together. It was however, not really my problem but I knew that Mehmet would go all moody and would need a lot of support.

The door crashed open and Mehmet stood there. Thinking to myself ‘here we go' I asked him what was wrong? Yes I no, I no, it was obvious, but sometimes I do go into girlie mode and screw up. After the ear bashing I had just been subjected too, It is no surprise that I went ‘Barbie like'.

Mehmet just said, don't bother to unpack, get dressed we are leaving. Telling him that he should stop and think about it, I dried myself and re-dressed. This hadn't been the plan and whilst I don't mind surprises I do like to know where I am going so I can make arrangements. I then asked where we were going.

Mehmet had no idea except he wanted to go elsewhere. He didn't want to stay at the hotel with his father, his brother lived with his wife and family at the house in Fethiye and Mehmet's mum could go with them for a few days, until Nevzat had calmed down.

Knowing that Mehmet was perhaps right, I mentally counted how much money we had to keep us solvent for a month. Working out that if we didn't go overboard, we would be fine I lugged the bags back downstairs. Mehmet went off to find a taksi prepared to drive us to wherever we wanted and I stood and waited.

Mehmet's mum came out of the house, red eyed and sniffing but she gave me a wan smile and said she would be alright. I wasn't happy about leaving her and did suggest that she came with us, but as Mehmet pointed out his father would simply go crazy.

Mehmet returned with a taksi and we got in. I had no idea where we were going, it was six or seven o'clock in the evening and I felt as if I had just fed Mehmet's mum to the lions.

There was nothing more I could have done for her. Turkish life is sacrosanct and any interference however well intentioned is not welcomed by either party. It wasn't that I didn't care, but simply that I had no right to care.

Huddled on the back seat with my thoughts we drove down the mountain into Fethiye. I had assumed that our stop would be the coach station, but we drove pass this and right onto the road to Antalya.

I did want to know where we were headed, but I had learnt it was better not to ask too many questions. We sped past empty fields, tractors returning with small crowds of people hanging on to the trailer, old ladies bent double with the stacks of firewood and on through the night.

We stopped at a place called Zorba, which is where the main Antalya road joins and is also the route to Xanthos, Patara, Kas and Kalkan. A tea house was open and we went in to eat. There in the warmth, we all relaxed and Mehmet explained that the driver was going to drive us to Kalkan that night, return to Fethiye and then pick us up some three weeks later.

Why Kalkan? I didn't ask but at least I knew where we were headed and having only been there for a few hours before with Nevzat I thought it would be interesting.

We climbed back into the Taksi and bearing right, headed towards Leetona and Myra. The road was a typical Turkish road. Pot holes at every turn, unlit and needing the skill of a formula one driver to negotiate it safely. We passed a workers camp, just off the road and behind the clear polythene we could see bodies moving in the firelight. It was cold outside and they were snug as bugs in their plastic houses.

By now it was ten o'clock at night. We passed Kaº and climbed up through the mountains to Kalkan. On the way into the town, there are lagoons or lakes of salt water and the shimmered in the moonlight.
Driving into Kalkan, we crawled downhill along the main street looking for a hotel. All were dark and shuttered. We reached the bottom and turned back up. Spotting a tea house (çay ev) Mehmet got out to ask directions.

The hotel was a few yards up the hill. When we arrived it was all in darkness. Ringing the door bell had no response so the driver went round the back. Soon a light appeared upstairs and with a loud creak and groan, the door was opened.

I love the way Turks do not stand on ceremony, unless it is called for. Standing in front of us, was a bleary eyed bald Turkish man in blue and white stripy Jim jams. For his own modesty or to keep the cold out, he had dragged on a brown sleeveless pull over. On his feet dangled beige socks, more hanging off than covering his toes.

He looked at us, scratched his arm pit and grunted. Rapid Turkish followed and he beckoned us over towards a small desk in the far corner of the hall. A register was produced and Mehmet told to sign it. He then held out his hand for my passport, Mehmet's ID card and money. Giving us a key and waving us upstairs, he turned off the light and fumbled his way through a doorway, hidden under the stairs.
Turning slowly in the gloom, I picked up my bag and attempted to locate the staircase. Crash! Oh what a stupid place to leave a plant. Putting the bag down, I attempted to locate the plant. Feeling a pot and something spiky (a bloody Mother-in-laws tongue) I stood it up as best I could, trod on Mehmet's foot and feeling my way, one step at a time found the staircase.

By the time we reached the top I was exhausted. Still feeling my way, with one hand on the wall I brushed against a light switch. Unfortunately Turkish light switches are time delayed and whilst it may leave enough time for someone used to the surroundings to locate a room number and the lock for new comers you don't have a hope in hell. However if there are two of you, one can operate the switch and one can go and investigate.

We choose Mehmet to find the room, because I have a big problem with Turkish keys. I stayed by the light switching it on and off when needed. I suppose anyone passing outside, would have thought we were signalling to smugglers offshore.

After what seemed like ages, Mehmet returned triumphant. The room was on the top floor and huge. Moaning as usual, I staggered after Mehmet before the light went out. Not quick enough. Before I could get half way up the stairs, the light had gone. Luckily Mehmet was now in the room and I could see a faint glow coming from under a door. Not knowing if anyone else was staying in the hotel, I pushed open the door.

Luckily, it was the right one and Mehmet was laying on the bed waiting. Complaining that he was being far from helpful, I lugged my bag over to the wardrobe. I was cold, tired, hungry and thirsty. Food I could manage without until the morning and there was half a bottle of water lurking somewhere. Mehmet had slung some tea bags and an electric kettle in his bag before leaving for Istanbul and they were still there.

I found a glass in the bathroom, a plastic cup in Mehmet's bag and filled the kettle with water. Waiting for the kettle to boil, I explored the room. Apart from a double bed, we also had a single one under the window. A huge built in wardrobe, table and chairs on a balcony overlooking the street and a decent bathroom. I like my bathroom to have a huge shower area and no curtain. For some reason (never understood it myself) if there is any hint of a shower curtain, I can promise you it will at some stage glue itself to my posterior.

Checking there was hot water; I turned the shower on and shut the door. Five minutes and it would be all steamy and warm. I fiddled with the tea bags and sugar cubes and went out to have a look at the street.

It was local elections and from the bottom to the top, the whole street was hung with banners proclaiming ‘VOTE DYP' ‘MEHMET THE MAN' ‘CHP' or whatever the slogan was. I called to Mehmet that he was the man and getting no answer stuck my head into the room. No-one was there. Thinking he had nicked my shower- a good possibility I threw open the bathroom door. He wasn't there either. Oh well, he would be back when he was ready. I made tea and sat out on the balcony drinking it. It was very dark and on the hillside opposite, lights twinkled and glowed. From the bottom of the street came faint music but that was the only sounds I could hear. ‘Oi, yoohoooo, jen'. Looking down, I saw Mehmet standing outside the hotel on the pavement. Putting my finger to my lips, I gestured for him to be quiet. With a grin, he disappeared through the hotel door and two seconds later was standing inside the door panting. In his hand he had a carrier bag from which steam was rising.

Raising my eyes heavenwards, I asked him where he had been. ‘Oh I was hungry and thought I would have a scout round, see what I could find'. He had found a lokanta at the top of the road (usally open 24/7 in Turkiye) and had ordered Turkish Pizza to take away.
We dragged the table in off the balcony with two chairs and ate the pizza washed down with tea. It never fails to amaze me exactly how much Turkish men eat and Mehmet was no exception. As for eating fast, they are like Piranhas! Mehmet finished first, surprise, surprise and got up to wash his hands. I sat there munching my second pizza and feeling full up.

Returning from the bathroom, Mehmet told me to put the table back, clear away etc etc because he was tired. I did as he asked; finding a bag for the rubbish, which I then tied up and placed outside the door. I struggled to get the table back on to the balcony single handed and was told ‘be quiet, I am trying going to sleep.

Putting everything back in its place, I then undressed. The light was turned off just as I went to walk into the bathroom. Naturally, Mehmet had left his bag in the middle of the floor with his trainers and I promptly fell over them, hitting my head on the wardrobe as I sailed past.

Staggering to my feet, I found the bathroom door, slammed it as hard as I could and stood under the shower seething. Eventually, the heat relaxed me and I started to un-wind. With that, the door flew open a cold blast of hair hit my bottom and Mehmet was standing there. Winking at me, he said he couldn't sleep and thought a nice warm shower may possibly help! Yeah, yeah, whatever. I don't mind sharing my shower with the right person any time, but with Mehmet he would stand right under the jet, leaving you shivering on the edges until he had finished. Grudgingly I stood aside while Mehmet went through his shower ritual. I have never understood just how dirty Turkish men's ears actually get, but judging by the amount of time spent washing the damm things out, they must be filthy.

Ears, nose then the armpits not to mention each toe individually. That done, he moved over slightly so I could get under. Was he being considerate, far from it, he simply wanted his back scrubbed! This done, I began to shampoo my hair. Why do men become amorous when you are in the middle of something important? With shampoo running all over my face and in my eyes, Mehmet decided he needed a little loving.
Now lovemaking under a shower is a very dangerous business and one slip could be fatal. I tried to push him away, not very hard admittedly but he persisted until I gave in. Naturally, he needed another shower before he could go to bed and I sat shivering on the loo, while he went through his ritual again. Shoving him out of the bathroom, I told him not to use my towel.

Too late, he appeared wrapped in my bath sheet holding out the hotels small hand towel for me. I had to wait until he had dried himself on my towel, before I could snatch it and attempt to dry myself as best I could. This done, I turned off the light and got into bed. My teeth chattered and I shivered trying to get closer to Mehmet under four blankets.

Eventually, I put my cold feet on him, and he relaxed his grip giving me enough room to manoeuvre myself into his cocoon. Waking the next day about lunch time, we walked out of the hotel to explore Kalkan. First stop was the dolmus station for breakfast. It is worth saying that the little dolmus station in Kalkan, serves the best çay that I have ever tasted in the whole of the country.

Leaving the station, we walked through an arcade of restaurants. Kalkan being a fishing village, there was fish galore. We stopped to look at the oddballs, which considering how much gunge and rubbish is pumped into the seas it isn't surprising how alien some of the fish look. We were accosted by waiters from various restaurants all urging us to sit and eat at their establishments. We said we would be back later and walked on down to the seafront.

The harbour is horseshoe shaped, with a lighthouse at the bottom on the neck. Beyond, the sea goes out and on the horizon tankers sailed slowly past. We strolled around noticing children fishing for sea cucumbers, people sitting in the sunshine drinking çay, fishermen mending their nets and cats fighting over fish heads.

Strolling back the way we came, we opted for a restaurant that was in the middle of two. All the establishments ran into each other and it was difficult to decide who belonged where or who was working for whom. As it was, when we sat down, six or so waiters all rushed over pulling out chairs, brushing down the immaculate tablecloth and trying to be helpful.

We looked at the menu Turkish style, which means walking over to the kitchen area or display fridge and seeing what is there or what is cooking and make up your mind. Far more interesting than asking for something and being told it is not available. Mehmet unusually, ordered a bottle of champagne (I don't do Turkish sarap) and we sat there in the twilight watching the stars appear.


March 1995