Turkey (2)

Tuesday 7th July

Felt much better but, not wanting to walk for too long, spent the morning in Richard’s café (rooftop with some matting) while the others visited a local Crusaders’ castle. Met up again with David, an English student who had been at the café the previous day. He had been bussing around eastern Turkey and had found the people most unfriendly. He was continually being approached by homosexuals, had been stoned several times and had even been subject to a knife attack by someone after his money. A result of this attack was one of his fingers was rather cut up. So that evening Richard took him along to the local doctor, whose method of removing the large blood clot at the end of his finger was to file it down with a nail file at the same time requiring David to hold with his other hand a dish under his finger to catch the blood!

The dinner at the café that evening turned out to be rather a jovial one. At lunchtime the local chief of police had had a bottle of wine sent over to our table, and so that evening the Director of Tourism did likewise, and not just one bottle. It turned out that normally he did not give a damn about tourists, but when drunk (which he certainly was that evening) he took his job more seriously, and felt it his duty to ply tourists with as much wine as they could consume, all the while watching them from the corner with a glassy and more than alcoholic smile. He spoke no English except a sort of “yes” sound, with which he greeted every remark – including my dissertation (drunken) on his buck teeth and ancestry.

With the wine flowing freely the Mayor of Anamur officially welcomed us to the town, and hoped that our stay would be a pleasant one. He even condescended to dance with Trottie, who was desperately trying to avoid the Director of Tourism, a confirmed lecher if one went by his teeth. I played them some English songs, and they sent out for some Turkish musicians, who played Turkish dance music on a sort of balalaika. The Director of Tourism ordered us another couple of bottles of wine and invited us to lunch the following day at the café, and on that note we left, had a quick Turkish coffee at a nearby coffee house and collapsed into bed.

Wednesday 8th July

Into the restaurant fairly early for breakfast (bowl of soup) and then Richard took us round the ruins of Anamur, together with the German couple we had met in Alanya and who had joined us here. The old town, from Greek to Turkish periods, was not in very good nick. At least, the houses were not individually. However, nearly all of them had part of every wall still standing so collectively, covering a whole hillside, the sight was quite impressive.

We were pleased to find on arriving back at the restaurant that the Director of Tourism had remembered his promise of the night before and was prepared to foot the bill for lunch – which he did. Thereafter we were in no condition to do anything else but go back to the campsite we were frequenting (in pine woods, by a beach) and collapse for an afternoon kip.

Still rather tired, and still feeling the lunchtime wine, we staggered back into town and had rather a large dinner. We were just about to leave when Richard announced that the Director of Tourism (again!) had arranged some music. We waited for an hour, at the end of which a swarthy Turk made his entrance, sat himself at a table and began to play mournful music on a guitar-like instrument. Then Pete, the German boy, announced that a Turkish friend of his had given him some hashish, so he and I nipped out of the café for a quick smoke. The music definitely sounded better after that, and it wasn’t until after midnight that I fell over, onto and into bed.

Thursday 9th July

Overslept and didn’t get up until 7:00 a.m. As usual I was dragged to a nearby picnic table by some Turks for an early morning cup of tea – and a game of poker, which went surprisingly well considering we played by different rules and had no common language at all. Spent the morning servicing the VW, and took up the offer from a passing friendly mechanic to replace one of the sparking plugs which was refusing to bite – much to the delight of the circle of watchers. This is one trouble with Turkey, or at least the south of it – you can hardly do anything without collecting some onlookers. In fact, as I write there are three Turks sitting at the picnic table with me watching me write! Now they have gone, and another one, very grizzled and rather smelly, has just joined us and is asking Trottie (by mime) where she sleeps at night. However, she’s not very receptive, having eaten even more than me.

Which brings me to food. Turkish food can be rather monotonous, but is very tasty. They have no potatoes, instead the meat is served on a small dish, together with bread and perhaps another small plate of salad and/or rice. (Interruption – the Turk on my right is bellowing at a friend at another picnic table, who has an empty 2-litre wine bottle and a rifle in front of him. Not the best of combinations!). One thing I do miss in


their meals is desserts. Sweet dishes can only be bought in shops as sweets, and we spent quite a long time last night discussing the merits of treacle pudding (and looking at the Turk on my left I’ve just thought of another use for a treacle pudding).

Had planned to go to a Turkish cinema in the evening, but thinking it over we thought it would be a waste of money, needing to get back to the campsite where we had left George looking after Pam. This is really why we have spent so long at Anamur (although it is a really good place) as Pam has been ill for several days, and is the first one to clock in with the runs.

Friday 10th July

Set off early for Adana, not in very high spirits, for although it was very nice to be on the move again, we were all sad at leaving Anamur, and Mike and Pam were both feeling off, Pam to the point of having to stop the van to vomit.

At Adana we were hoping to stay at the BP parking place marked on the map, but we found that our map was a year early and the parking site was still under construction. For the sake of the ill members (Trottie was now running a temperature of 103) we paid out for a Mobil Camp.

Saturday 11th July

I woke up to find over 100 mosquito bites on one arm, which rather took the charm out of the camp. We also found out that whereas the camp was only 4/4d a head as opposed to the Mocamp which was 5/4d, we had to pay 1/- for a shower, 1/- to use the gas rings, 1/- to use the clothes-washing basin and 3/4d for a swim, all of which should have been free.

Continued servicing the VW, and noticed an oil leak at one wheel, and so we drove it down to the nearest VW garage (really a Ford one with a few VW spares) where we were able to borrow their tools and take the wheel down. The oil seal we suspected looked ok, so we put it all back together and are now hoping!

About lunchtime Mike decided to get a doctor for Trottie. She didn’t fancy a Turkish doctor, so we drove over to the American airbase a few Ks down the road, to see if we could get hold of one of their doctors. Not surprisingly they didn’t really want us on the base, but they were able to tell us the name of a good English-speaking doctor who quickly came out and had a look at Trottie and diagnosed gastro-enteritis, which would go in a couple of days. His fee was about £3-10-0, which we could afford but is a lot when you think there is no NHS here and as far as we can gather the fees are not altered much to suit the patient. This means that the majority of peasants have no hope at all of affording a doctor, and so they either get well or die. This is only one of several rather horrifying aspects of Turkey (and I imagine all the way East) that we have discovered, and is made more so by the fact that they have an incredibly large army, which must be where all the high tax on automobiles goes, for here they are about three times the price that they are in England, due to colossal import duty.

What is more, we would have to pay this tax if our van was stolen, for it is then said to have entered the country. Even if you have an accident and your car is a total write-off you have to get it out of the country, and not in bits either. It has to be driven out under its own steam! Accidents certainly seem costly here for another reason as well. If you are involved in an accident you are at least 20% to blame, and it rises from there. Even if your car is parked and someone runs into it, if your car hadn’t been there there would have been no accident, so you are at least 20% to blame.

Being in jail is no joke either, for there is no food – it has to be brought in by relatives. An American air-force officer we were talking to was telling us of a couple of Marines at present in a Turkish jail, and apparently a detachment has to be sent every day to feed them.

It also appears, as I suppose is to be expected, that the official system is corrupt from top to bottom, and bribery really works, and, for instance, seems to be the only way to get off a traffic charge, though this sounds a little far-fetched. However, it does seem very easy to pick up a traffic charge. For instance, if a traffic light you are approaching turns red, but the traffic keeps on going but you stop, you can be charged with holding up the traffic. Carry on through, however, and you might be had up for crossing a red light. It seems the only thing to do, if you see a policeman at traffic lights, is to go slowly and he will usually either wave you on or stop you.



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