I was becoming frankly irritated at the heightened chatter and concern before my holiday to Turkey – people asking me whether I should be going or not in light of recent events, the news had already plastered UK homes with the scaremongering image of war – yes war, but is the media justified to tarnish every Turkish city and town with the horrors of war?
I have been visiting turkey twice a year since the summer of 2010 – my parents had taken the plunge and bought a 3 -bed apartment there after being blown away by the splendour of small fishing town, Kalkan.
As I entered one of the small gift shops, I heard one local artist ask the shop owner, “How many this week?” The shop owner replied, “We’ve had not one all week but as the weather is bad, people come into the shops.” His shoulders slump in response to the bad news; the artist is reluctant to continue his business there, they argue in Turkish. The owners wander off to drink apple tea on painted wooden stools and look to the skies to ask why is this happening to their country.There is anger from the men; their bars remain empty in the evening, the music off beat and scratchy. You don’t hear the giggle of youth because their parents have kept them safe in the home- counties, and the retired are bird watching on the Isles of Scilly or drinking wine on Lake Garda.
The market is usually a cheer of chatter, aroma and excitement – I feel guilty to walk on by, linens flap in the light breeze as men holler to sell their goods. Two men stop for a photograph and muster up a smile to the outside world. The air is desperate and the sun doesn’t shine today. It’s been the worst year for tourism in years and my happy place has been damaged. Wonderful restaurants with crisp tablecloths and the freshest fish remain stark and diners eat in solitary surroundings – my eyes dart the street to familiar bar owners, they tug at my arm, hungry for my custom. Some have shut up early, their owners aloof as they roam the cobbled alleyways. On the Tuesday it thunders, lightening crosses the skyline; the water has an eerie black shine at the town beach – parasols lay battered and bruised and stray dogs howl up the hillside; their calls bounce off the mountains with the rumble of thunder. It was as if Kalkan was having its say – a cry out to all those who had turned their backs on it.
Each time I visit, I marvel in its delight, except this trip, I heard its pain and despite my presence, I was hopeless in fighting for Kalkan’s beauty. As I reached the Airport, I say “until next time” – I just pray that the world wakes up and the roof dining terraces can be alive with amaretto chicken filling tourist hungry stomachs once more; boats can be filled to the brim with sunburnt brits instead of bobbing in the harbour and the sparkle returns to the eyes of the locals.
Whether or not the sparkle returns, I will be back. Because Kalkan is home and you always return home.