Travels in Turkey - Part 19


Returning to England, mid April I found myself in the middle of a custody battle. My ex, despite having little or no contact with the boys for months on end suddenly decided that he and his new wife wanted sole custody. The new Mrs Dean didn't like children and the boys hated her, complaining that she was weird. I remember clearly standing in my living room, my ex waving his arms about, explaining that they thought it would be better if the boys lived with them. One they would be more stable and two Mrs Dean (number two) would give up her full time job to be a stay at home mother.

He then flung in, that I could now go to Turkiye and do what I wanted to do. Quietly, I told him that if I had wanted to do that, I would have gone long ago and taken the boys with me. He accused me of sleeping with lots of men, here and in Turkiye and I told him to prove it. Getting really irate, I told him to get the F*ck out of my house and he could fight me for custody in court.

As it was, it never went any further because a month later he walked out on her and she sued him for desertion. Later on whilst downloading on the pc, I discovered files relating to the marriage which had records of her being treated for some mental health problems and him being arrested for assault! There was never any question of me giving him full custody, but it was a relief to know that I had done the right thing at the time.

The boy's birthdays were celebrated and the year moved on. I had already spoken to the boys about going back to Turkiye in September and this time for six weeks. Back then, the schools were not a problem, provided they knew and that the work was done up to date on their return. September 12th, found us once again at Gatwick airport, back- packs bulging with tins of baked beans and bacon and the suitcases over weight as usual.

An uneventful flight, except the boys got to go in the cockpit and we were standing in Dalaman at 2am in the morning waiting for our luggage to trundle through. This time the boys rushed off outside, leaving me to drag two bags and a case through customs unaided.
I staggered out into the cool night air, to find no-one I remotely recognised in sight. Swearing under my breath and having sympathy with a donkey, I wobbled down the ramp to the car park. In the far corner I could see the kids chasing Mehmet round the car. As I reached them, they looked at me as if to say' about time too'.
Knowing I was outnumbered, if not outvoted I meekly climbed into the back of the car, as I was told. The boys sat in the front with Mehmet. As we drove round hairpin bends, and climbed up and down the mountains, the lateness of the hour and tiredness soon sent the boys off to sleep.

Mehmet pulled the car over, told me to get out and gently carried the boys one at a time, placing them onto the back seat. I climbed in front, kissed Mehmet, wound the window down and was happily taken through Fethiye and up the mountain home.

Crunching onto the gravel at 4am in the cold morning, I didn't expect anyone to be awake. From the shadows, came Mehmet's mum. She had been waiting for us and the kettle was boiling away. Hugging and kissing her, I realized that I missed her as much as I missed her son.
Shaking the boys gently awake, I took them over to the apartment and put them to bed. Callum did manage a weak hello, but was soon snoring softly.

Going back to the hotel, I found the tea had been poured, Mehmet's mum had gone back to bed and he and I were alone again at last. I never remember what we said, but ours was a relationship where words were not needed, because we were so in tune with each other. We both knew how much we had missed each other and in less than an hour, I knew that Mehmet was going to show me, just how much.

Lying next to him later that morning, I realised just how much Mehmet meant to me and that I seriously had to consider moving the boys to Turkiye, to be with him. In Kalkan earlier that year, we had spoken at length about the future and I asked if he was sure that he still wanted us to be together. I was giving him the chance now to finish things. He assured me that he definitely wanted us to stay together and even suggested we got married.

There were English schools in Antalya and Istanbul, but it meant the boys would be sent away and after going through the divorce, I was very reluctant to put them through any more stress simply because moving to Turkiye was what I wanted. It was a hard decision, but bearing in mind Mehmet was an adult and the boys children, I came to the conclusion that the boys came first and that meant living in England until they were old enough to decide for themselves what or where they wanted to be. The flip side of the coin was that I couldn't expect Mehmet to wait forever.

The boys woke up demanding food, Mehmet went off to cook breakfasts and the day began. Naturally, the boys wanted to go to the beach, but being their first day there I wouldn't take them. We compromised and they spent the day round the pool. Rather, the apartment door was left open and the boys were free to go in and out all day long with their Turkish friends, rubber rings, lilo's and all the other plastic things that are needed for water play.

With the boys occupied and Mehmet working, I went into Fethiye to do some shopping. I had no idea how long I would be and told Mehmet and the kids, that I would be back later.

It was great to get away from the constant demands of three men. Admittedly, two were fairly small but when they were all together, life was very chaotic. Humming to myself, I strolled around the streets of Fethiye, stopping to talk to people I knew, sitting and drinking çay with people Mehmet used to work with and always one eye open for the elusive bargain. When I tired of that, I strolled down to the harbour front, which I have always called the promenade to look at the boats, the tourists and the locals.

Finding an empty table at one of the little cafes, I ordered my customary çay and sat down to watch the world and his wife walk by. It has never ceased to amaze me, how I know far more people in Fethiye than I do back home here, where I have lived for the past 44 years. Perhaps, it is because the Turks as a nation are friendly and outgoing people.

I sat in the sunlight, looked out across the bay and wondered what I was going to do about the whole situation. Despite Fethiye being paradise, it was very hard to make decisions there and I think because of the way I embraced the place, it is impossible to think clearly or constructively.

Although, I shall no longer be able to say this, I would always say ‘I am going back to England to think'. Knowing that I would never come to the right decision sat there, I drank my çay, paid the hesap and walked on.

I cut across the back of the council offices to the dolmus station, which was then at the back of the post office. Finding a dolmus half filled with perspiring tourists, I climbed on board and waited patiently for it to fill up.

With the dolmus now stuffed, we chugged out of Fethiye and up the hill to Ovacik. As we neared the hotel, I could see the boys out playing on the roadside with the boy and girl from the hotel opposite. With them was a young English girl, who was staying at our hotel. I shouted ‘DOOR' and the dolmus came to a stop a few feet from the kids.

As I climbed down, the kids gathered round to see what I had bought them. Finding nothing of interest, they began to tell me what they had been up to.

Mehmet's mum had got in the pool with them and splashed around for a couple of hours to keep them entertained. Then Biray and a friend, Bayram had kicked a football about in the car park. They had gone with Mehmet's mum to move the goats under the olive trees and found a couple of tortoises slumbering.

Sheparding them across the road, which was relatively quiet in them days, I led them to the bar where they happily sat and drank coca cola from bottles. The two Turkish children, Mustafa and his sister were never allowed a bottle of drink in their hotel and it was a treat. Michaela's mum and dad were lying down in their room and were more than happy to let her run amok with my two and whoever else they collected along the way.

I left them and went to the apartment to change and put my shopping away. Mehmet had been in and changed his clothes and I spent five minutes, picking them up, making the bed and stacking the washing up.
The apartment looking as if had only been slightly nuked, rather than a full scale atomic attack, I stepped under the shower, kicking wet shorts, goggles, flippers, rubber ring and a swimming frog to one side.

Refreshed and clean, I dressed picked up a pile of colouring books and crayons, shut the door behind me and walked off to the bar. On the way, I realised I couldn't hear the kids playing and knew they had simply buggered off again. I put the books down on the nearest table and marched round to where I had left them playing. No kids, no Mehmet nothing. I looked in the car park and the family run-around had gone. Oh well, they were with Mehmet or Biray, so would be perfectly safe. Even if they were on their own, they wouldn't come to any harm from an adult. Well, not a Turkish one anyway.

On the way back to the apartment, I found Mehmet's mum hanging out the washing. I stopped to help her peg them up and she said that Mehmet had taken all the children down to Hisaronu to the shop.
Oh well ten minutes peace and quiet and then back to the fray. I rushed to the apartment, unlocked the door and grabbing a book lay down on the bed and started to read.

I must have fallen asleep. When I woke up the sun was setting, the cool evening air blowing in through the open door. Feeling relaxed, I pulled on a fleece and set off to find my offspring and lover. There were a few people sat in the restaurant eating and I said good evening. In the kitchen Mehmet and the chef Sali were busy preparing various courses. Telling them I would be back as soon as I had checked on and even located the kids, I turned away.

Calling me back, Mehmet said the boys were over the road playing and that they would be back at 9pm. Thanking him, I donned my white coat with little red buttons and set to work.

I'm not a trained chef or cook, but with two kids who were constantly starving, you learn to adapt and produce meals in five seconds flat.
Checking the orders, I produced two prawn cocktails, one plate of green beans and a dollop of Russian salad. Turkish men don't believe that women can cook so I wasn't entrusted to cook full blown meals. My cheese on toast which I knocked up the night before was poked, sniffed and held at arms length before being suspiciously nibbled.
Once the rush starts in the kitchen, it is non stop until the last diner has eaten and the plates cleared away. I chopped, shredded and swore for four hours, only stopping to kiss the boys good night when they arrived in their pyjamas. They were too tired too argue and obediently wandered off in the direction of bed. Now don't go thinking they were well trained or good kids, far from it. I lost count of the number of times I was called out from the kitchen, bar or wherever I was spending the last of the evening, to sort out some silly argument or to calm them down because their shrieking was louder than the bar music!

At sometime before midnight, the cooking was finished. I helped clear the kitchen, wash up and then went over to the apartment to check on the boys. They were both fast asleep and curled up between the two of them, a ginger kitten. Pulling the sheet up over them, I left them dreaming.

I had already been told we were hitting the town that evening with a group of people staying in the hotel, so I had a quick shower and changed yet again. It was just as well Mehmet's mum had a washing machine because I would never have managed to trample everything I
wore under the damm shower everyday.

Ten minutes later I was back at the bar, waiting for Mehmet to go and get ready. Whilst I waited, I poured drinks for the guests, chatted and washed up glasses. Mehmet was back in fifteen minutes and we stood around waiting for the party goers, to come down from their rooms. Everyone assembled and we pilled into the car.

If there was a record for the number of people in a car, we must have won it twice over. In an estate car, we could cram no less than ten people plus the driver. Admittedly, it was cramped but who cared?
With the exhaust scraping the road in places, we crawled down the hill and into Hisaronu. The place to be then was underneath the Hotel Lycia, scene of the original disco in the village. It was like a huge dark cavern, but the music they played was great. I vaguely remember you had to pay to get in, but we never did. We screeched to a stop outside and the doorman or bouncer came across to open the doors. Getting in is one thing, trying to get out hysterical. Legs and arms appeared from all directions, followed by half a body or a limb which belonged to someone else. Eventually, all ten of us were standing outside and Mehmet drove off to buy cigarettes. I led the tourists inside, waited while they paid their admission fee and sneaked in behind them.

As much as I hated acting the charming hostess or being expected to, it did have its bonuses and free drinks was one of them. I found two tables and led the party through the cavern. Luckily, they were a great bunch and the ladies started dancing straight away. Putting my drink down I stepped onto the dance floor. There were occasions, when you got a group who were just miserable, wouldn't join in, moaned constantly about the noise and made you want to pull your hair out. The group that night were brilliant.

Mehmet appeared with wrapped meat balls which he had got from ‘Sen Baba' the mobile kebab man and we sat around eating, drinking and talking.

The lounge lizards arrived (Turkish boys/men who think they are god's gift) and started to twirl and twist in front of the full length mirrors which dotted the walls. I have yet to find a disco or bar where music is played that doesn't have mirrors. Watching them boogie is big entertainment and even more exciting when they move in for the kill.

I don't think our group ever wanted to go home that night and by three in the morning I was trying hard to stifle my yawns, stay awake and be the perfect hostess. Mehmet glanced over at me, nodded his head towards the door and smiled. Right, that was the signal to move and I stood up said goodnight and explained that Mehmet and I were on breakfasts at 8 o'clock. With a wave, we walked out.

Anyone who thinks that four or six weeks in the sun, is one long holiday I would beg to differ. It is if you are actually on holiday, but if you are working it is a very long period of never having enough sleep, feeling constantly tired, always expected to be happy and worse of all being polite when you are dealing with a bunch of eejits.

We drove home, parked the car and walked into the apartment, dragged off our clothes and fell into bed. No matter how late or tired we were, we never gave up the lovemaking. There were times when it was completed in record time, but it was one part of the relationship that never faltered. When the party goers returned at 6am, we never even stirred. Snuggled up to each other only an earthquake, Mehmet's mum or the kids shouting would penetrate our unconsciousness. I woke to Aldwyn climbing into bed with us and telling me that the kitty was hungry. Opening my eyes I saw Callum give the cat a saucer of milk and the uncooked mince which was in the fridge. Knowing that I wouldn't get any more sleep that morning and that we were meant to be doing breakfast I got out of bed. Shaking Mehmet awake and telling AJ to keep poking him, I had a shower.

I picked up the kitten and put it outside with the meat, grabbed the boys and walked over to the restaurant ready to start on the breakfast. Unless anyone wanted an English breakfast or something like an omelette, everything was fairly straightforward. Just 26 plates of Turkish breakfast to be made up, Çay to be made and eggs to be boiled.

The kids sat down and waited for Mehmet's mum to do theirs. The reason for this was that she would painstakingly boil a number of eggs until they were the right dipping consistency. Me, if it was hard boiled then tough luck!

Early risers started to occupy the tables and Callum was sent to wake Mehmet or Sali to help with the rush. I passed out plates of made up breakfast, cut fresh bread and sliced tomatoes. AJ found the knives and forks and Mehmet's mum made the çay.

Just a typical morning in the life of a hotel. As the sun climbed higher, people went back to their rooms to collect bags, towels and whatever is needed for the beach. The kids went back to change into their swimmers and Mehmet's mum and I sat down with our first cup of çay.


September/October 1996