Thursday, July 15, 2010

Turkey 2010 - Part VI - Paradise Comes to an End?

Our last day was bittersweet as we reminisced about how wonderful the past 10 days had been, but also taking care of the business of getting ready to leave. This included what seems like an ordeal required of every trip I take with my wife: Finding the damn post office to send off the post cards she purchased on Day 4, but thereafter was unable to find stamps and/or a post box.

With that task accomplished my friend and I bravely struggled in the heat (and the effects of the night before) wandering through the tourist part of downtown Kalkan looking for small presents for the young children of the Huseyin family where we will have our last dinner in Islamlar, Turkey. Job 2 done.

Now it is Job 3: Making a ridiculously large lunch with all the food we overbought. This was going to be a kick-back day, but noooooo. Iamboatman was forced into the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove, to make a feast to be eaten poolside where we just enjoyed the absolute quiet, the incredible views to the left of the mountain and to the right of the Mediterranean Sea. Kermit, our tree frog mascot, was present – nicely tucked into the terrace’s sheers which flow in the breeze.

My friend and I got to the exploration of the adjoining property that we had been talking about doing since we arrived. (I guess we were just too busy.) The land to the right of our villa is, well and truly, the nicest piece of land if your chosen view is primarily the water. We actually found the mountain view to be more interesting. And then the “uh oh” moment as we discovered that there were a few villas (some not so nice) that were behind our villa and, more disappointingly, an almost road…and, listen to this, a small street light. “Progress” is coming to Islamlar; slowly, but alas “Paradise” is fragile…but for now it exists. (It reminds me of the old environmental saying, “Take only memories. Leave only footprints.”)

It was then time to enjoy Paradise one more time: a float in the pool followed by a nap on the terrace (which was interrupted by a flock of what I think were parrots swarming a nearby tree) and then packing, a shower and dinner.

We were greeted by the whole family. It was quite touching. I mean my wife could speak to them fluently, but my Turkish is about 12 words (I improved on this trip!) and my friends were even more limited. But friends find a way. Baba made sure we were happy, the wives cooked a great meal and the kids were lurking…just waiting for the hinted at farewell presents (a cool wooden top and an impossible wooden puzzle we all referred to as “Cok Problem” (Very or Big Problem). That’ll keep the wonderful little girl and precocious boy happy.

After dinner we spent some time with the kids and then it was time to head “home” for one last chat by the pool before heading to bead for a ridiculously early departure for the airport.

Our last morning we were up before dawn and made great time to Dalaman…which one would think would be a good thing, but we arrived too early, so we had to kill time (and my friends, bless them, had lots of time to kill because they were flying back to England in the early afternoon.)

Our first flight on Turkish Airlines was fine, departing early (like we didn’t have enough time to kill in Istanbul). After a three hour layover we finally boarded our flight to Zurich on Swiss. Both were typical intra-Europe business class (economy seats with no one sitting in the middle).

Then it was a mad dash for our flight on Privatair (a 737 with 56 business class seats operated for Swiss) to Newark. We had 35 minutes to get from the shuttle bus (of course we didn’t get a gate when arriving in Zurich), through security, take a train to the international terminal, then through Passport Control. We made it. (I must, however, relay a classic moment for me: We arrive at the gate and my wife says, “We must be the first people here.” I looked at her puzzled and said, “Ummm…Everyone is already on the plane!”)

The service onboard was excellent, the food was fine, but the seats were sort of 1995 style where they are pretty impossible to find a comfortable position and if you want to stretch out you are essentially slid down to the floor (which is not where I want to be). As such I didn’t sleep much on this almost 10 hour flight, but did watch three movies on the portable video system that is handed out shortly after departure.

Upon arriving in Newark: Our luggage!