Just another day in Paradise


The euphoria about my new lifestyle as a woman of leisure already started crumbling when in İzmir. As the coach makes its way along the serpentine roads that climb woody mountains and then descend down to the bay
of Fethiye, I just feel desperate and lonely. To overcome this mood I first decide to have a tea at the bus station and then to decide where to go. Luckily, as I open my mobile phone, I receive a message from Yaşar Bey, a friend of a friend's father, who tells me a place to stay for the night and has also made a good bargain for me.
I get off the dolmuş at Ç
alış, check in at the hotel, walk around the corner and pause for a moment, impressed by the gorgeous view at the beach. Surrounded by green hills and mountains lies the bay, the light of the setting sun glittering on the water. I start feeling like a lucky girl again.
Just another day in Paradise
After dinner I walk down the promenade and meet Erdoğan, who tries to sell daily tours to the tourists walking by. I ask him whether he needs a tour guide.
"That's not the right job for you," he says. "Come!"
He takes me to the Gençlik Lokantası at the seaside with Turkish life music and tells me to sit down. He calls Kurtuluş, the owner, and his wife Zeynep, and after five minutes I have a job, accomodation and food included. I drink a beer and feel happy.
The next day my mood has changed a bit. Swimming in the sea before breakfast I think that I do not really want to work here, even though it's a beautiful place. But the idea of serving drinks and food to middle-aged Brits and Germans in a tourist ghetto doesn't excite me that much anymore as it did hundreds of kilometres and a fortnight before in Istanbul. Also Yaşar Bey, whom I meet at the hotel, doesn't want me to work at a bar.
"You can find a better place, believe me," he says.
Anyhow, I decide to start working at the Gençlik Lokantası as I'm running out of money and need a place to stay.
"Your choice," Yaşar Bey says.
Kurtuluş is a nice and quiet guy. We hang out at the restaurant from 11 o'clock in the morning. I chat a bit with the musicians who are going to perform that evening. Then I take a seat on one of the cushions and look at the beautiful view in front of me. The thought that I would spend the next two months talking nonsense and staring at the sea alienates me. I really don't want to do this.
"Kurtuluş Abi," say I, taking a seat in front of the man who was my boss for a couple of hours, "don't take it personal, but this is not the right place for me."
He seems annoyed and mumbles something about me being vagrant, one day here, the next day there, but in the end he passes me a 20 Lira- bill and wishes me good luck.
Sitting at the seaside, Just another day in Paradisewatching the sunset and drinking a cold beer that I've bought from my first and last salary as a waitress I feel content and happy. Erdoğan comes over, buys me another beer and gives me some peanuts.
"What are you gonna now?" he asks.
"I don't know," say I. "First go to Fethiye."
As I pick up my luggage that I had left at a random hotel bar, Osman Bey, the waiter, invites me to stay with his family for a couple of days to find myself. He calls his daughter Simge, a 13 years old, beautiful and talkative girl, who takes me to their house in Günlükbaşı. I'm impressed by Osman's hospitality and Simge's forthright and appealing nature. I sit on the balcony with the girl, drink a tea and feel like Alice in Wonderland. But then the mother comes and the feeling of harmony with every single being on this earth comes to a sudden end. It's obvious that she's more than irritated by me sitting on her balcony.
"Where do you know her from?" she asks her husband.
"I don't really know her," he says, "she just walked in the hotel bar today."
"Ee?"
I'm too tired to look for another place to stay that night, but I know that I should find something else tomorrow.
The next morning I have a menemen for breakfast and think about what I'm gonna do next. Yeşim sent me the number of Turan Abi a couple of days ago. He runs a camp site in Kabak at the shores of Olüdeniz, the "Dead Sea", a 1hr-drive from Fethiye. I confess that I'm quite prejudiced as I climb into the minibus to Kabak and then make my way down the hills to the campside, as I've heard that this is a place for dropouts and hippies. But talking to Ece, a nice woman who seems quite reasonable and even-tempered instead of stoned and withdrawn, changes my mind, and the beautiful beach amidst high, woody mountains convinces me to stay here for a while. It's not the best bargain ever - I'll work in the kitchen seven hours a day for food and accomodation in a tent -, but I feel good as I drive back to Fethiye to pick up my luggage. Well then, seems that I'm becoming a hippie for the summer.

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