The trip from Datça to Göreme wasn’t easy but it was interesting. The first leg was a 1.5-hour bus ride from Datça to Marmaris, followed by a two-hour layover in Marmaris. Then I experienced the grand finale – a 14-hour ride from Marmaris to Göreme, mostly in the dark. The Marmaris layover didn’t leave enough time to do much, the weather was dramatic and rainy, and there was no luggage storage. I wasn’t brave enough to leave my bag unattended at the bus office.
There was no choice but to hang out in open-air cafes around the bus stop which were mostly frequented by Turkish men… It was uncomfortable. As I sat squirming first I wondered what someone like Hillary Clinton would do in the same situation – then felt like a total wuss and held my ground. When the café keeper came to take my order I murmured – a shot of vodka please (he didn’t speak English). When he frowned, I pointed to a picture of Turkish coffee on the menu and he nodded.
I don’t understand why there isn’t a more “mixed” crowd at Turkish cafés (like in Istanbul) and asked the owner of the apartments where I stayed in Datça about this. He grinned and said that Turkish women have different “interests” than men. They usually stay at home and cook – #*@*….
After a while the men in the café tired of staring at me and got on with their routine – occasionally glancing condescendingly my way to keep tabs on what I was doing – I glanced or rather glared back at them. I ordered a bowl of lentil soup still thinking about that shot of vodka. Outside it was pouring rain with lightning and wind blowing at what seemed like hurricane force. There was no place to go. The café keeper seemed to warm up a bit when I smiled and gave him a thumbs up on the lentil soup, which was delicious.
I paid the bill and moved on to pass more time at another café. At the next place I met an English-speaking Turkish shopkeeper who had lived in Pennsylvania. Told him I was from the west coast side of the US. He was pushing bee products – honey, royal jelly, etc. I declined the expensive royal jelly but sampled the honey and bought a small jar.
He introduced me to his uncle and brother who worked with him at the café – they spoke sketchy English – better than my iPhone-translated Turkish. They sat with me and we had tea and a limited but light-hearted chit-chat. It was fun but soon time to make my way to the Göreme bus which was now boarding passengers.
As I pulled my luggage toward the bus on the rough cobbled street a young English-speaking Turkish man approached and asked if he could help – I gave him the handle to my bag and he helped load it on the bus and introduced himself as Mehmet Güzel. Of course he wanted to know where I was from and seemed to think Britain and US were one in the same, I guess because English is spoken in both places.
The bus was an impressive new Mercedes, clean and comfortable but the movies and TV were in Turkish only, the WiFi didn’t work, and there was no WC. During the 14 hour trip we made pit stops every three hours or so at some of the seediest bus stops imaginable. Unbelievably, at each stop there was a 1 TRY charge (about 50 cents) to use the filthy WC.
In Turkey, if you’re traveling alone on the bus, they pair you up with someone of the same sex. It was easy to tell that the large Muslim woman I sat down next to wanted me to disappear, so she could stretch out over both seats. Mehmet noticed my predicament and motioned for me to come sit next to him. He was on his way to a different destination but we were taking the same bus for 4 hours before he connected in another city. He had a liquor and tobacco shop in Marmaris (called Güzel Tekel) and was traveling to meet his lawyer to sign paperwork as part of a government requirement to expand his shops.
Mehmet said he would ask the bus steward to watch out for me, and when he changed buses I could have both seats to stretch out – unless it turned out to be a full bus – in which case I’d have to return to my assigned seat next to the big Muslim woman – sigh. Mehmet was chatty but nice, and before changing buses, he provided his views on the entire history of Turkey. He gave me his email address and insisted I look him up on Facebook as soon as Internet was available. Mehmet was nice and I enjoyed having someone to talk with but took an extra strength Tylenol as soon as he got off the bus.
I wasn’t able to sleep on the overnight bus and went through several audio books. Am recuperating before exploring Cappadocia – the desert-like weather gets quite cold at night but during the day it’s warm, dry, and beautiful. The surreal landscape is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced! I’m taking a hot-air balloon ride early tomorrow and planning several days of group hiking!
More rambling later…