Travels in Turkey - Part 18


Waking to the sound of rain splashing against the window, I opened one bleary eye and peered out. The early spring sunshine had vanished and in its place, a leaden sky and sheeting rain.

Pulling the blankets up over my head, I snuggled back down into bed. Mehmet stirred but didn't wake up. I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Unfortunately I have a weird trait which means if it is raining when I go to bed, or the weather is anything but normal then I cannot sleep. Likewise, if it starts whilst I am asleep, I wake up. Knowing that I was going to be lying there for a long time, I sighed reached for a book and settled down to read.

Two hours later, the rain was still pouring down and I was bored stupid. I had been poking and prodding Mehmet and he still wouldn't move. Nibbling his ear bought no response from him, so I got out of bed and dressed.

Finding the umbrella under the bed, I marched out of the hotel brolly unfurled against the elements. Battling my way downhill, I reached the sea front. Above the sea wall, grey waves crashed and water rushed across the pavement. Shivering in the cold, I hurried into the pastry shop.

Huddled round the tables were fishermen, wrapped in layers of jumpers, shirts and jackets. Souwesters hang from any available nail and a thick steam rose above them. All were moaning and complaining about the weather and all drinking çay. I squeezed myself into a chair and listened.

From the conversation I managed to understand, it was a spring or neap tide. The high Tide was expected the torrential rains and high winds a surprise. Not having any knowledge of the sea, I just accepted their explanations and thought of having to go back out in it. They did say that it wasn't expected to last and by late afternoon, the sun would be shinning again. With this thought warming my cockles I left.

As I stepped into the street, a gust of wind blew the brolly inside out and my paper bag of pastries became a sodden mess. I chucked the brolly in the nearest bin, and head bent till almost touching my knees, made my way back up the hill to the hotel.

I stood in the room, dripping water everywhere hair plastered all over my face still clutching my pastries. Mehmet opened one eye and asked me seriously ‘If it was raining? Telling him, no I had fallen in the sea I turned the shower on. Did I get a lovely stream of hot water? No, the shower ran luke - warm then freezing cold. I don't suppose the solar panels had seen any sunshine that day, but I wanted hot water.

Peeling my wet clothes off and discovering I had dipped dyed, blue legs I grabbed a towel and began to dry off as best I could. From the bed, Mehmet watched with amusement. There was no heating in the room and I began to shiver. Noticing my discomfort Mehmet pulled back the blankets and indicated I should climb in. I didn't need to be told twice and gladly slid into the warm cocoon. As my cold body touched his warm one, he pulled away. Ignoring him I wriggled closer and nibbled his ear. Hah! That worked. He kissed me on the mouth and began to run his hands up and down my damp body. As he turned to pull the blankets further over us, I glimpsed a blue hand in mid-air. Laughing hysterically, I peered under the bed clothes and found that the dye had now transferred itself all over the sheets and all over Mehmet. Instead of looking like two people glowing with passion, we looked like extras from Brave heart! Looking at me as if I was mad, Mehmet too looked under the bedclothes. With a smile he carried on from where he left off.

I don't know how long it took for the rain to stop, but when we woke just after four o'clock a weak sun was peering through the clouds and the pavements were starting to steam.

Leaping out of bed Mehmet declared that we would be going fishing and where the hell were the fishing lines? Groaning, I rolled over and indicated that the smelly things were in a carrier bag out on the balcony. He threw open the door, sending a cold blast of air into the room and grabbed the bag off the table. He then found my clothes, dragged me out of bed and proceeded to dress me. Somehow or other, we managed to get me looking respectable enough to go out in public and left the room.

The main street was awash with rivulets of water rushing down either side. Pot holes had turned into lakes and muddy water lay everywhere. We reached the bottom of the main street without getting too damp and turned to walk along the front.

Mehmet had decided that we would fish from a cluster of large rocks, just pass the harbour and Turkish Navy station. The water was quite deep, but rocky. I choose a nice dry patch on a rock, spread my jacket and began rolling bread balls. It is quite a messy job and involves spitting on your hand, which should be cupped and taking a small piece of dry bread, the size of a big pea and rolling it in the spit, until it forms a small ball. Too much spit and it just drops off the hook, too little and it won't even go on.

Armed with a supply of balls, I passed them to Mehmet who carefully threaded the two lines, his old one and my replacement one. Passing mine towards me, he leant over the rocks towards me. I looked up to see his sunglasses, slide off his nose and down into the water. Glaring at me, as if it was entirely my fault he grabbed the line and attempted to hook them up. Why, I don't know because they were not expensive designer shades, but a pair he had requisitioned from some silly tourist staying at the hotel. I sat there smothering my giggles, patting his arm and saying ‘Oh nearly darling, to the left'. After an hour of trying to hook the glasses, he gave up.

I asked him if we were going to try fishing for some fish and he snarled at me. He said he was going to go for a drink and off he marched. I sat on my rock watching the sun dip behind the horizon and covered me in a golden light. Shivering slightly in the evening air, I pulled my jacket on and carried on sitting.

I could have gone to look for Mehmet, but when he got a cob on like that, it was best to leave him, to sort it out himself. Besides, knowing Mehmet he was probably playing pool somewhere and had completely forgotten what put him in a bad mood in the first place.
When the moon came out, I thought I had better make a move. I stood up and clambered over the rocks to the harbour. I walked into the first bar, thinking he would be in there but it was empty apart from the staff. I then climbed up to the Çay ev, where a few people were playing pool and sitting around but no Mehmet. I crossed the road to the bus station and scouted around, he wasn't there. Crossing the road to the hotel, I asked in a few shops if they had seen him and they all said no. I walked into the hotel, and the room key was still hanging on its hook in reception. Oh sod him. If he didn't want to be found, that was up to him.

I undressed, turned on the shower and took a nice hot uninterrupted shower. I came out, dried myself on two nice fluffy dry towels and lay down on the bed to think. He had been AWOL for no more than two hours. He wouldn't come home when hungry because he was big enough and ugly enough to feed himself.

I was feeling hungry so dressed, locked the door behind me and left the hotel taking the room key with me. One I was feeling peed that he had just stalked off and two without the key, he would have to come and find me.

I wandered down restaurant alley, found a table and sat down. The waiters asked me where Mehmet was and I just said ‘No idea'. It is always a bit strange eating on your own, but I was used to it and tucked in with gusto.

It was during the second cup of çay that I became aware of a group of Turkish men staring at me. Glancing over I realized that it was the group from the bar last night. Hiding under the table wasn't possible, so I just sat there and stared straight back. On reaching my table, they nodded at me and passed on. Breathing a sigh of relief, that I didn't need to leap up and defend my virtue again, I ordered yet another çay, whilst considering what I would do with the rest of the evening. Going to the bar on my own, didn't appeal. The Çay ev, without Mehmet was out of the question, so it was an early night and a paperback book.

In fact it was a very early night, just being pass nine o'clock and I decided that a stroll around the town before bed would be ideal. I paid the bill and walked through restaurant alley, to the front. I turned right at the bottom, passed the mosque which was lit up like a Christmas tree, crossed the square and turned up a road which after a series of bends and climbs eventually wound its way to the back of the hotel. Along this road were houses, a few shops and another Çay ev. I stopped at a shop to buy cigarettes and a bag of nuts and munching my nuts, walked slowly up the hill. It was a long walk, but the view from the top was worth it. Half way up, I stopped to look at the dark sea spread out and the far off glow from the lighthouse. Dotted around the horseshoe bay, were twinkling lights from houses whilst a string of orange neon lamps marched in a straight line towards Kaº.

Stifling a yawn, I pulled my jacket closer and walked on. I came to the tea house, glanced in and carried on walking. As I reached the end of the frontage, someone called my name.

It wasn't Mehmet, but a waiter called Lufti who worked in Restaurant Alley. I stopped and spoke with him and he asked if I was going to come in?

I explained that Mehmet was missing and that It wouldn't be right for me to go in, when he said ‘but Mehmet is here, he has been in for hours'.

Smiling like a Cheshire cat, I stepped into the tea house. Mehmet had his back to me taking a shot. I don't know if it some sixth sense or just survival tactics on Turkish men's behalf, but those facing me fell silent. Mehmet played his move and potted something. Expecting congratulations and hearing none, he looked up. They were all staring behind him at me. Mehmet slowly turned round, saw me and the smile was literally wiped off his face.

It wasn't that he didn't expect to see me there; it was the fact that I was tapping my foot and not speaking which was making him uneasy. I smiled at said' hello darling, fancy meeting you in here'. Mehmet expecting to get a tongue lashing kissed me on both cheeks and asked if I would like a drink. I answered in the affirmative and sat down. Gentleman, never ever trust a woman. For now, the situation was under control, but I was still holding the aces and I was far from happy.
Another game was played and I was asked if I would like to participate. Now, that is an honour in itself. The fact that I wasn't a good player and a woman usually meant that although I would start out playing, it was very unusual that I ever played more than two games. It wasn't just Mehmet who thought like this because over the years and between the boyfriends, they have all acted exactly the same.

Smiling in appreciation, I took up my cue. By now three beers had relaxed me and I strolled round the table to make my break. I don't know if god was looking down at me or if the beer had given me better eyesight, but as I hit the white ball with the cue, it shot off into the triangle of coloured balls and two dropped resoundingly into the pockets. One striped and one coloured.

Wohooo, I was on a roll here. I picked up the chalk and carefully chalked the end of my cue, and remembering what I had been taught, stuck my bum up in the air, leant over the table and aimed the white ball at a stripy one. The reason I stick my bum up in the air, is not that I like to be an exhibitionist, but that I am vertically challenged and tend to play pool on tip-toes. Yes, I am the bright spark who has to clamber onto the table to reach a ball in the middle.
Mehmet played his shot and we continued with the game. I soon lost concentration and the game became more like ping-pong tennis on a computer screen. Mehmet, potting his colours, whilst I simply knocked them from one end of the table to another.

Eventually, Mehmet potted the black and the game was over. He asked me if I wanted another and I shook my head. Another bottle of beer was placed in front of me and I indicated that I would watch him play. I don't know how he was actually still standing upright. I had already drank three large bottles of beers and he had been in the place a lot longer than me.

I caught his eye whilst he stood opposite me and indicated that we should make a move. I know that we would have to wait until the game was finished, but at least he knew I was ready to go.

The black was potted and I stood up. Mehmet settled the bill and taking my arm we stepped out onto the pavement. The night was cold and with my arm wrapped around Mehmet we walked up the hill.
Reaching the very top we stopped. From here the view was even more spectacular and we stood for a while staring in silence at the sea. Shivering I urged Mehmet to walk faster as I wanted to get home. Now beer and Turkish men usually cause two reactions. They become completely stupid and have to be carried, or very romantic and amorous. Unfortunately, this night Mehmet decided he was Romeo. He leapt onto a stone wall and declared to anyone who was awake that he loved me. Telling him to be quiet, I tried to pull him off. He thought I was playing and started to run along the top of the wall, nosily laughing and urging me to catch him.

Telling him he was ‘Çok Deli' (very crazy) I walked behind on the pavement. The wall finished and Mehmet jumped down. He stood at the end of the pavement waiting for me and when I caught up, kissed me passionately on the lips. Pushing him off, I told him to wait till we got back to the hotel. He wouldn't listen and grabbing my hand, led me down a narrow alleyway between some houses. Somewhere a dog barked and a stray cat shot across the path in front of us.

With a finger to his lips, he turned right and walked onto a patch a waste-land. Knowing exactly what he had in mind, I told him it was too cold. He laughed, telling me that he would soon warm me up and led me over to a ruined building. I imagine that a one time it was a house of some kind, but all that was left were the outside walls, a fireplace and a roof made of stars.

Clearing a space through the rubble, he took me to a corner, cleared the stones with the flame of his lighter and when he was satisfied with his handiwork, took off his jacket and laid it on the ground.
Being one of those people that follow the verse, hooray, hooray it's the first of May, outdoor sex begins today, I wasn't too put out by his actions. Knowing that the sooner I gave in, the sooner I could be home in a nice warm bed, I started to take my boots off.

Taking your clothes off in a room in the dark is difficult enough. When you are outside in the dark in a strange place it is impossible. I did eventually get my boots off and stood there balanced on a stone so my feet didn't get dirty. I could see in the faint moonlight that Mehmet had removed his jumper and jeans and was sat shivering on his jacket. Sighing, I removed my jeans, tee-shirt and stepped gingerly towards him.

We didn't hang around. It was too cold to whisper sweet nothings or spend ten minutes blowing in each others ears. The ground was far from comfortable and during the course of lovemaking I had needed to extract a large piece of stone from my anatomy.

Pulling me to my feet, Mehmet started dressing. I found my clothes and sat down to feel around for my boots. I found one and put it on. I asked Mehmet to flick the lighter so I could find the other. As the flame gave a feeble glow round the ruins three goats looked up at us from the doorway.

We stumbled out of the ruin, passed the goats that bleated disapprovingly at us and hand in hand walked back to the hotel.
Looking back now, it is strange how we have intuition or an inner wisdom. The last four weeks had been the happiest I ever shared with Mehmet and I knew despite all the promises he gave, that somewhere not far away the storm clouds were gathering. How fast they approached is another story.


March 1995