Travels in Turkey - Part 17


The days flew past. We had been in Kalkan a little over two weeks and met lots of new friends. One of them Yankee was the spitting image of an Aborigine and every night he and his best friend, would get roaring drunk and fight each other. On the occasions he was sober, a group of us would be invited onto his boat, which was a Turkish Gulet he was in the process of renovating.

The boat was a mess with planks of wood laying everywhere, burnt paint piled up and tools scattered everywhere. Amongst this debris, he ate slept and lived. His bed was in the pointy end of the boat and consisted of a pile of blankets and not much else. A party on board a boat, proved interesting to say the least.

Four of us, Me, Mehmet and two other fishermen would buy fish and Raki. When the bars closed for the night, we would make our way down to the harbour, attempt to lower the gang plank and walk unsteadily up the swaying wooden path .If the sea was slightly rough, or we had drunk too much then it could take upwards of half and hour to complete this manoeuvre.

Once on board, glasses or mugs would be produced, a frying pan and a party would start. The music was from a radio or we either sang (Eskimo Nell was a favourite) or Mehmet played the drum or whatever was lying around. We would then knock back the Raki, attempt to fry the fish without burning the boat down and have a good time. Once or twice Jandarma (military Police) arrived to ask us to keep the noise down but usually ended up joining in. The nights sometimes ran into the morning and we would clamber off bleary eyed to see the moon disappearing and the sun coming out.

On his weekly phone call home to his mum, Mehmet was asked to go home for Kurban Bayrami. For those of you not in the know, this is the feast of sacrifice which takes place a month after the end of Ramadan. It involves a sheep or goat having its throat cut and the meat then distributed amongst the poor, the neighbours and friends. It is regarded an honour to do the actual killing and Mehmet was expected to be home for this family feast.

I wasn't invited, so we arranged to travel back to Fethiye by dolmus late on the Saturday night, arriving around 3am. We then booked into a hotel in Fethiye and Mehmet left at 7am to go to the village and prepare the lucky animal for slaughter.

I stayed in the hotel room reading, watching television and pacing up and down. No-one was about and most of the shops were closed. It was a long boring day and not surprising that when Mehmet returned at 8pm I was fast asleep in bed.

He woke me up and we went into Fethiye to eat. Having been feasting all day, Mehmet wasn't hungry. I had not eaten since the night before and I was starving. I was also peed off after being left alone all day and drank too much Efes.

What should have been a pleasant evening turned into a blazing argument. It takes a lot to get me going or rile me, but the whole day had been a complete waste of time for me and I had the distinct impression that Nevzat was still pulling Mehmet's strings.
I know it wasn't Mehmet's fault, but he was the nearest person to blame and he got both barrels. I have not been going to Turkiye for so long, without learning some behaviour patterns and throwing a wobbly in public wasn't my way at all. Poor Mehmet got the silent treatment. If he asked a question, I would answer but nothing else.
Returning to the hotel room, I undressed and got into bed, ignoring Mehmet completely.

He climbed into bed and tried to cuddle up to me. I turned my back on him and hoped he would go to sleep. No such luck. Like me, Mehmet would never go to sleep on an argument and insisted on turning the lights on and sitting bolt upright in bed. He kept poking and prodding me until I rolled over and sat up.

Indicating that I should sit next to him, so he could put his arm around my shoulder, Mehmet asked me what was wrong. I explained how I felt, that his family were pushing me out and rather than supporting me, he was siding with them.

Sighing dramatically he explained that initially he had refused to go home without me. It was only his mum pleading with him, the fact that he would be letting her down and that all the family would be arriving persuaded him to return home for the sacrifice. He refused to speak to his father and wanted to go back to Kalkan first thing in the morning.

Feeling reassured, I snuggled down to sleep, setting the alarm clock for 8am. The dolmus left for Kalkan at 9am, dead on, no silly British Rail excuses for leaves on the road or the wrong type of sunshine. Eating a hurried breakfast in the hotel, we left for the bus station.
As the bus drove slowly through fields of Cotton, Tobacco, past plastic greenhouses growing Cucumbers and Tomatoes, houses huddled in little clusters, stray dogs chasing cars and the typical Turkish countryside; I felt my spirits lifting with each mile that passed.
We stopped for half and hour in Patara and strolled down the main street to eat lunch. Having been there a few times before, we headed for a favourite eating haunt and the chance to catch up with some old friends.

Looking at my watch, I realized that the dolmus was due to leave and unless we shifted pretty damm quickly, it would be without us. Throwing some money on the table, Mehmet and I legged it up the street.

Reaching the main road, we saw the dolmus start up and slowly roll away. Waving his arms, Mehmet sped towards the dolmus and the driver stopped. Puffing and panting I reached the dolmus, opened the door and climbed on. Mehmet was frantically trying to find the door on the wrong side.

It is not the done thing to laugh at other peoples misfortunes in Turkiye, but I have never learnt that lesson. As I giggled at Mehmet's predicament the other people on the dolmus indicated that he was on the wrong side but keeping straight faces. When I looked at them, they all wore grins.

Eventually Mehmet climbed aboard and we drove off. The road from Patara to Kalkan, climbs and weaves its way up the foothills of the Taurus Mountains. There are wooded hillsides, small settlements and towering above it all, huge rocky outcrops which at that time of year are still covered in snow.

We now dropped down into the valley and followed the river which meanders over rocky outcrops, gravel beds and green pastures before rushing out into the sea.

As the trees thinned out, we caught glimpses of azure blue sea through the hanging branches. The road straightened out and the whole beauty of the rugged coastline came into view. To the left the roofs of Kaº could be seen glinting in the sunlight. Turning right, the dolmus turned down the road to the village, pulled into the main street and stopped.

Everyone got out to stretch their legs and the driver told us he would wait half and hour. There was a mad rush for the toilets and a queue formed outside the ladies. Next door the men were going in and out quickly which was very annoying and being well mannered I had let all the Turkish women go in front. Really, it was my own fault I was stood at the back, grimacing and wriggling like I had the dreaded lurgy.

Mehmet appeared and looking at the queue said he would go and find çay. Eventually the queue moved and I finally got into the loo.
I emerged in a much better mood, adjusted my clothing and set off to find Mehmet. The houses in Kaº are built in the old Turkish Ottoman Style and are constructed of wood. Huge balconies run along the front and every window has shutters.

Half way down the main street, was a restaurant and sat outside on the balcony, deep in conversation with a Turk was Mehmet.
Crossing over, I climbed the steps and sat down at the table. From the balcony, I could see down the hill of the main street to the harbour, past winding roofs stacked on top of each other to the sea beyond. In the sunlight diamonds danced on the water and huge tankers sailed across the horizon. It was like looking at a picture book. Only the noise from passing traffic and the gabble of Turkish voices bought you back to reality.

I drank my çay, and ate my Meze. Mehmet tucked into his rice and Turkish Baked Beans. Another cup of çay and we were ready to complete the last leg of our journey. Leaving Kaº, the dolmus turned left and began to climb up the mountain. The road levelled off and we were following the sun between soaring cliffs on one side and the sea dropping away below on the right. We passed Ladies beach and the start of the lagoons, marking the road to Kalkan.

With the clock striking two, we pulled into the dolmus station at the top of the high street in the town. Mehmet grabbed our one bag and we walked down the road to the hotel. It was lovely to be back and we decided that after a quick shower we would head off to restaurant alley, to catch up with friends. On the way, we would visit the Çay ev and shoot some pool.

Things never work out as planned and on returning to the room and taking a shower, one thing led to another and it was eight pm before we stirred, sleepy and hungry. We dressed and set off for dinner. Mehmet wanted to try a different place, that night so we walked through the coach station and past the tourist information office. We found a restaurant/bar which was showing a football match and meeting Mehmet's requirements we went in. You Turkophiles, know of this strange addiction to football. Everything literally stops for any game, regardless of how bad it is, whenever it is their team or not, or how far up the tables the team is. Grown men, can be seen screaming, jumping up and down and knocking back large amounts of alcohol, whilst watching a snowstorm flicker on a TV screen. Usually a commercial break is inserted just as a free kick or penalty is about to be taken and the odd behaviour of Turkish men, carries on throughout the intermission. Mehmet was one of these men and sighing I sat with my back to the television screen, whilst Mehmet pulled his chair out from the table into the small crowd already seated.

I ordered for myself, decided that Mehmet would at that moment eat anything and ordered for him. The food arrived and I tucked in.
Between watching the game, swearing, shouting and leaping about, Mehmet managed to eat his food. The plates were removed drinks ordered and I scanned the walls looking for something of interest.
My eyes scanned the room and alighted on a fireplace, which had a roaring fire going. Picking up my drink I left the table to sit by the fire, a pile of tatty paperback books distracting my attention. I picked up Death on the Nile and began to read. From time to time, I glanced over at Mehmet who was totally oblivious to anything but the game going on.

After an hour I was bored. The game had gone over into extra time and I had read the same page at least twice. I ordered another drink and sat nursing my thoughts. The game finished, chairs scrapped back and men descended on the bar. Mehmet, stood up glanced over at the table and with one movement was out of the door.

Realizing that the idiot, thought I had left I carried on sitting where I was, knowing that sooner or later he would be back. I listened to the babble of Turkish men discussing football, had a one sided conversation with an old man and waited.

Twenty minutes later Mehmet came panting into the bar and asked the barman something in Turkish. Raising his eyes towards the heavens (a common Turkish trait) he pointed to where I was sitting and had been sat for the last two hours. Grinning like a cat, Mehmet pushed past the crowd to get to me. I handed him his beer, which was now warm patted him on the arm and smiled.

Drinking his beer, Mehmet pulled me to my feet, grabbed my jacket and said we were going. On his search for me, he had gone into the Alti Deniz Bar and a party was taking place. Now, I am not a good time girl, but neither do I like sleeping on my own. The choice was either join him, or go back to the hotel with a book. Five seconds later, I was standing outside waiting for Mehmet to settle the bill.
We reached the bar, which was heaving with bodies and pushed our way in. A coach tour, from Ankara was in town and sampling the local hostelries. They had obviously been there for a while and were all tanked up.

I found a table and sat down in the corner. Mehmet joined me and we watched the dancing and drinking games. The DJ asked me to choose some music and I obliged. I like all sorts of music and chose tracks that would get people moving. When Smokies, living next door to Alice was played I urged Mehmet to get up and dance with me.

Dancing round the floor, I whisked pass a group of older Turkish men, drinking Raki. Nothing unusual but they were loud and obnoxious. Ignoring them, I carried on dancing. The next time I whirled pass, I felt my skirt being lifted over my bum.

I stopped, looked the guy in the eye and promptly kneed him in the nuts. Mehmet looked horrified. The group of Turks with the idiot all gathered around and started babbling. I was taken outside, while chaos reigned inside.

Eventually I was allowed back in and told to sit at the table and not move. Reluctantly, I did as I was told telling Mehmet that I wanted an apology. He shook his head and said ‘After, what you just did?' ‘Yes'. By this time I was still angry and when Mehmet went off to get a drink, I walked over to the man and asked him why he had done it. He said ‘You are English'. Huh! Before I could land another one on him, I was dragged outside and told to stay there. Demanding my beer, which Mehmet did hand me I sat outside surrounded by a small group of people who I called friends.

Eventually, the group left and I was allowed back in to the bar. I was furious but at the end of the day, money is money, business is business and they were drinking more than we were. Jandarma arrived and we were told to turn the music off. It is another Turkish thing, that when the army arrive anyone rushes for the volume control. We hadn't broken any laws, but it was a long time past midnight.

Without music, people left and the bar became empty. Helping the staff stack glasses and wipe tables Mehmet and I decided on a fairly early night. Walking home arm in arm, Mehmet asked me why I had assaulted the Turkish guy. He explained that because the guy was Turkish, then I was fair game. Explaining, that I was English and a woman at that. I too was entitled to some respect. I told him that I wasn't dressed like a Tart, had given the guy no indication I was going to participate in his little games and that he was just showing off in front of his friends.

Mehmet could see my point of view, but never having seen me flip before he was a bit worried about what damage I may inflict on him, if he stepped out of line. A drink over the head is one thing, a knee in the nuts something else. He was secretly chuffed that I had stood up for myself, but also embarrassed that I had shown him up. Ladies, we cannot win.

Reaching our room, I told Mehmet that I was going to have a shower and go to bed. He obviously had other ideas and no sooner was I naked and under the shower than someone joined me. Reaching for the shampoo, I told him I wasn't interested. Agreeing with me he turned away. If only I wasn't half asleep, if only I didn't trust him…………Mehmet waited till I was rinsing the shampoo off, my eyes were closed tight and he started to nibble my neck.

Now one thing that I can never resist is having my ears and neck nibbled. Damm the man. Knowing that I wasn't going to get any sleep until I gave in, and knowing that I wanted him as much as he wanted me, I rinsed the shampoo off, turned off the shower and dripping wet stepped into the room.

Mehmet was lying on the bed, fast asleep and snoring. Oh, typical male. Smiling to myself, I returned to shower, washed then dried myself on a dry towel.

Walking pass, the slumbering Mehmet I opened the balcony door wide, sat at the table and with the warming air wafting up the smell of honeysuckle, petrol and kebabs, the stars twinkling in the dark blue sky wondered what tomorrow would bring.