From Thessaloniki, But About Leaving Turkey

Trip Start Feb 08, 2008
Trip End Sep 11, 2009

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Flag of Greece  , Macedonia Region,
Sunday, July 19, 2009

This posting is being finally edited and sent from Rijeka, Croatia, August 12, 2009 as I try to backfill the story of moving along. So, back to the taking leave of Turkey. Unfortunately, not enough time for reflection yet. Or, rather, the reflection is on-going, but the surface events of traveling is what I am writing about.

From Ankara I took an early (last) Sunday (July 30, 2009) morning fast train to Eskisehir. As I had previously told my host in Eskisehir that I would arrive around noon, when I did arrive around 8:30 I decided to sit in a  park across from the rail station and read until calling him at the expected hour.

Tamer came and we walked to his "new" apartment quite near the rail station, but in the downtown of Eskisehir. In fact, it was at the end of the main street through town, and rather noisy for that. Three of Tamer's children from a previous marriage were visiting him and his pregnant wife. Still rather pixy-ish looking in her somewhat bloated condition she said she was about two weeks away from delivery, and offered that she was a little scared; a question I had been tempted to ask, but didn't.

Tamer's three kids consisted of two young adolescent girls and a boy of about 10. The girls presented not extremes, but different outlooks from one another. One covered her head with the Muslim scarf, and wore a long blouse over a long sleeved shirt, the blouse coming to below her hips, over long pants. A kind of young, modern Muslim style. The other, not much different in age (but body structure--somewhat chunky) wore jeans and a long-sleeved flannel shirt, the tail out. She had a small stud implanted in one eye tooth. All three children were very well behaved, and my delight was to see their affection for their father, a kind, but hardly jolly person.

I spent two nights with that family. We spent some time down the street in Tamer's new office. He is an English language teacher, trying to start a new business. Right now there is no business it being holiday time, so he has, let's just say, some financial worries. Their home style is kind of Japanese like, at least in the livingroom/diningroom. Meals are taken sitting on the floor around the table. Turkish style, the common servings are dipped into by all around the table.

We went for walks in the coolness of the evenings. This is when the girls would walk arm-in-arm with Tamer.

Very late on the third morning, maybe even early afternoon, I took a bus to Bursa.

It is in Bursa that I had lived the previous summer for three or four or five months. I  can't even remember without checking my calendar. But I'm pretty sure that I felt less humidity this summer than last. Perhaps it was my imagination, but it just seemed better. Still quite warm to hot, but not so suffocating.

I had one purpose for being in Bursa. While living there I had purchased an exquisite (by my measure) water color or tempera painting. When I left Bursa, and not wanting to cart it around, I left it and a few other items with a friend, planning this route for my last days in Turkey. Meanwhile, however, this friend had moved to Australia, there to attend college for the next three years.

She had assured me that when it came time to collect my possessions she would make the proper arrangements. What she didn't say was that this information would be left until my first morning in Bursa. Meanwhile, of course I was growing more anxious about what the deal was. I had told Tamer in Eskisehir about my anxiety. He said he had a friend on the Bursa police department whom he would get in touch with if I needed assistance in finding the young lady's father, the only person whom I knew to seek. I had thought the young woman had some other friend in mind for me to meet since her father did not speak English, and my Turkish was too limited to fully manage the situation.

Emails to Australia had not elicited any response more current than a week, at which time she had  said she would call her father and soon report to me.

So, by my first morning in Bursa I had no information. There had been a call at something like 4am in the morning from an unidentified number, and which I had not heard since my hotel environment required I sleep with earplugs. Plus, on two other occasions in Turkey I had received mysterious calls from unidentified numbers, the last one, all in Turkish except for the twice-repeated, "Yanki go home!" So  I  wasn't interested in answering calls from unidentified numbers.

Nevertheless, as I was on my way early in the morning to an internet cafe to check on either information from the lady, or in its absence to call Tamer for contacting the police friend, I answered the second call. It was from Australia. She said her father was waiting for me just then.

This man is the prime exemplar of Turkish hospitality. And it is genuinely heart-felt. But to my value set (a rather reserved one) his generosity verges on the pathological. It is too much for me, and after so much I begin to feel very uncomfortable about it, even aggravated. In the least instance, wherever we would go on public transportation he would insist (kindly) that I sit. I didn't want to sit. First, it's too hot to sit. Second, there is nothing left between my pelvic bone and the seat except some nerves. It hurts to sit. But, of course, I could not explain this. I sat.

The man, Mr. Z., was such a people person that on every bus or taxi ride he would engage in a conversation with someone near by. This is most unusual, even in Turkey.

There was also an unfinished task from the previous summer. I had left town forgetting to close out my natural gas account. I needed to appear at the gas company to formally sign the account closed. Fortunately, the house had not since been rented. But I was worried that there would be a bill at least for over a year of pilot light gas.

In the first case, they couldn't, apparently, find my account under my name. (Some computer skills!). I couldn't remember the address of the house. So, Mr. Z. and I had to take a taxi to the house and write down the address.

Then, back at the gas service office, the account found, we were told to return in a couple of hours, after the service had been closed at the house, and pay a service fee.

We went for lunch, then returned. I waited for the bad news. A paper was presented with a figure of 142TL. With a resigned sigh I was reaching into my wallet which contained 140 when the man at the desk handed ME 142!

On leaving the  office I looked quizzically at Mr. Z. and said I didn't understand (a sure sign of my naivete despite my age). He said it was the deposit. The light bulb went off in my mind as I realized that unbeknownst to me Mr. Z. had put the deposit down long ago. So I made a move to take the money out of my wallet, but  Mr. Z. firmly arrested my hand movement. The man would absolutely not permit my returning his money to him. That is but one instance of the man's overbearing generosity.

Next it  was time to take the painting to the shipping company. I wanted to  ship it by commercial service, that being faster and more secure in my mind than the postal service. I had done this before in Bursa so knew where to go, etc. The desk person for this company (American, I think) spoke English.

Slipping back into my numb, stupid naivete, I permitted Mr. Z. to accompany me even though it wasn't necessary.

I walked in the door and began my business with the counter person. Mr. Z. walked up and took over the conversation with the clerk in Turkish. Before long he plopped his plastic card down. I put mine down. After the painting package was wrapped and all the paperwork completed the clerk looked between us with a bewildered expression. The bill was over 200TL, maybe as much as 250 (US$132 to 166). But, yet again, Mr. Z. was not to be denied.

Before we parted for the evening Mr. Z. told me to call him in the morning before left. I dreaded doing so because I just wanted to get out of town without further sense of obligation. But I just had to call him. Predictably, he said he would meet me at the city center go with me. As we hung up, I an older man, whimpered into  the phone, "No."

So, how to forestall his no doubt wanting to pay my bus ticket?

On  the way to  the bus terminal, Mr. Z. in his inimitable way got into a conversation with a fellow rider; to such an extent that he walked into the terminal in such rapt attention with him that he completely forgot about me until they were 3/4 of the way into the lobby. With amusement, I just waited near the door until he remembered what he was there for.

I then just sat on a bench and made it known to him that I needed to get another piece of luggage out of the "left luggage" office, and I wasn't going to do so--nor buy my ticket--until he left.

He  gave me about the 5th, and 6th, or 6th and 7th "last gifts": a silk bath scrubbing mitten (I think; it's a square bag! and some mint-condition Turkish money bills from before the change from millions to ones. Then he gracefully left.

I retrieved my third bag from the left luggage office, and went off to the docks to search for a bus to or on the way to my intended destination, Lapseki. There there would be a ferry across to the Gallipoli Peninsula.

No such buses were to be found. So I headed back into the terminal to find a company. But I was intercepted (the obvious foreigner) by a ticket tout, who happened to name a city beyond my desired getting off point. So I went with him.

The bus was actually late in getting in, the reason I had not seen it. It was a bus in transit, so I only had a few minutes to wait on board.

Then the bus was pulling out of the dock. Mr. Z. appeared on the bus as it was moving! I don't think he gave me anything in this moment, just expressed a wish for save travel. Then he was off the bus, and all I could do was to place both hands to my mouth and "blow" him a kiss--not  my usual kind of behavior. He did likewise, then we were parted from sight.

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geezergal on

Good story
That is so sad in a way to read, being that I have somewhat of an insight into the Mr Z situation. He is an amazing subject matter and too bad he is so rather mysterious. Love Sis

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