A Stranger's Delight

by Reyam Alakashi (United Kingdom (Great Britain))

Making a local connection Turkey


Lounging around, eating freshly prepared traditional food, and swimming in cerulean waters was how I pictured it. Being greeted with genuine smiles and genuine words, my suitcase which is packed with endless attire, being extremely light to me because of my upbeat frame of mind and lack of attention to any burdens, because let’s be honest, who cares about anything important when you’re on holiday? A room with a view of the beautiful serene beach, sleeping peacefully, then waking up to the sound of the waves caressing the rocks, doing as I pleased, when I pleased. Just once I want to experience one of those holidays from heaven that they show on the holiday brochures, just once. Am I asking for too much? I stumbled off the plane with the rest of the passengers and retrieved my suitcases from the luggage carrousel. I had wanted to spend a relaxing few weeks in Italy, but my friend had insisted on going to Turkey, so Turkey it was and in Turkey I was, alone. Unfortunately, she had some sort of family emergency that came up a few days before the day of our flight. So there I was, in a crowded airport in Bodrum, a tourist city in Turkey, not shopping in Milan and relaxing in Venice as I had dreamed. I was definitely nowhere near Italy. Swatting any thoughts of the perfect holiday away, as I dragged my burden of a suitcase behind me and begrudged anyone and everyone that was enjoying their holidays. I flung my suitcase around, trying to get the gross piece of chewing gum off one of the wheels of the suitcase, I heard the muffled laughs of a group of immature, young male adults, I turned around and gave them an icy glare because I knew that they found my struggles amusing, but of course, this only made them laugh more. Finally, I found the taxi driver after half an hour of reading signs and attempting to communicate with the Turkish taxi drivers that were bombarding the front of the airport. I spotted my name messily written on a small whiteboard that was lazily swinging at his side, he was bald, quite short, dressed in faded blue jeans and a baby pink shirt, with the collars turned up. He seemed to be more occupied with finishing the cigarette in his left hand than with holding the board up properly or looking for me. I pointed at him, then walked towards him, as if fearing that he’d disappear the minute I stopped pointing. When we got to the car, he did not help me load the suitcase and bags into the boot, he just stood there, watching with an irritated look on his face, as if my very existence was the most ghastly thing that he’d ever seen. The ride to the hotel was agonizing, I had a severe headache and he’d picked nothing other than loud Turkish rap music to play. This ride wasn’t going to be short, I had landed in Bodrum, and needed to get to Altinkum, Didim, which meant that he had to drive up long mountain roads, I hadn’t slept in two days and I didn’t trust the driver enough to sleep in the car. I stared outside my window, watching as the trees and the bushes ran past and the moon followed the car, trying to catch up with us. Upon reaching Hotel Miletos, I tipped the driver, because, despite the annoyance of the journey, he had been kind enough to stock the car with cold water and delicious Turkish buns stuffed with Turkish cheddar cheese. My first impressions of him were long forgotten. I had got to know the driver personally on our drive to the hotel, he’d sensed that I was stressed and turned off his music. Then he attempted to speak English, but chuckled at his struggles, instead I attempted to speak Turkish and he would repeat the words to me with the correct pronunciation. I had become fascinated with the Turkish language a few years ago and had attempted to learn it; I could understand it more than I could speak it.