Last Christmas we’d managed to rent one of Ahmed’s “friends” apartments for the duration but as in the case of many Turkish resort holiday rentals, they were not designed to cope with the colder winters. And even though we’d managed to borrow a portable heater, it could not combat the miserable wind and lashing rain. Whilst we succeeded in getting out sightseeing every day, we usually went to the Hotel first thing in the morning and at the end of the day to ensure that there were no security breaches as Ahmed had been appointed security manager during the shutdown. The owner of the hotel had not paid any utility bills or his seasonal staff that year and subsequently (and don’t ask me how), a cable was being run from the local shop to provide electricity to the hotel office. The office had a small television set and an old one bar electric fire, along with a computer; wireless internet again provided courtesy of one of the neighbours. Although, I wasn’t entirely sure that the neighbours providing both the internet access and electricity supply were altogether aware of their generosity.
Ahmed and a couple of his brothers took turns in sitting in the office in their capacities of security guards whilst a stream of locals called into the office to say that they were owed money by the hotel owner and where could they find him? I was beginning to think probably prison, had he’d lived in England! The other locals that filed into the office were all asking the lads to loan them money as either they or a member of their family were in need of hospital treatment. I have subsequently discovered this is a common occurrence and it is doubtful that any family member would be facing a hospital visit any time soon. Most accepted that they were unlikely to obtain money from the brothers but one or two of them were fairly insistent. Ahmed kept calling them “gypsies” which is about the worse insult that you can level at a Turk. It means that they are a low life criminal and thief who would steal from their best friend if the opportunity arose.
The brothers spent most of the day either skyping their various love interests and watching some really bad Turkish Television programmes. Ahmed and his brothers were mesmerised by the worst television soap imaginable and sat there for hours captivated by some fairly bad acting and the dodgiest sets. I may have also previously mentioned Ahmed’s obsession with the Turkish wedding channel; this is a channel dedicated to running home-made wedding videos twenty-four hours a day. Trust me when I say that for most of us the novelty soon wears off; but clearly not in Ahmed world.
One particularly bad weather day, after a visit to Kusadasi a beautiful Turkish town, if you ever get the chance to visit, Ahmed stopped off at the Hotel on the way home. I took this opportunity to warm myself in front of the one bar electric fire, whilst Ahmed and his brothers exchanged heated words. There was a lot of tutting and hand waving going on and whilst I could make out one or two words; it’s safe to say that they weren’t ones that would be approved of by the elders of the Mosque! They all stormed off in the direction of the pool before Ahmed returned to drive us both back to the apartment.
Whilst we sat down to enjoy the delicious Turkish dinner that Ahmed prepared for us, he informed me that some “gypsy” was routinely stealing the hotel sunbeds and that every day there appeared to be more missing. Not an easy feat for someone so it was safe to assume that the sunbed thief had some mode of transport. He then went onto to advise me that we were going to spend a “big romantic” evening sitting in the sub-zero temperatures at the hotel office in the dark waiting to catch the thieves; as he was a “very big good detective man”. I pointed out that was clearly not going to be happening as long as my backside pointed downwards but he was welcome to undertake this covert operation on his own; or as the man himself would say “only one”.
So I lovingly despatched my man to coincide with the screening of some English film I was wanting to watch on the television. As I cosied up on the sofa, my guilt was alleviated by the fact that I had insisted that Ahmed take a quilt and flask of çay with him to fight off the chill. Thirty minutes later, Ahmed returned to the apartment uttering Turkish curses of a questionable nature. It would appear that my beloved was a fair-weather man and not designed to fight crime in arctic conditions. One had to hope that the thieves were also discouraged by the cold; but I thought it unlikely and possible that the robbers were just contractors or ex-employees who had been short-changed by the hotel owner and were trying to recoup some of their financial loss.
The next morning, as we pulled up outside the hotel bright and early, an elderly Turk was strapping a sunbed to a cart attached to the back of his push-bike. I had to admire his sheer audacity and couldn’t help but laugh. Ahmed jumped out of the car but the Turk sensing his game was up, abandoned the sunbed and pedalled off at full speed. Ahmed jumped back in the car, but the old fella was too wily and turned into a small alley where it was impossible to follow him in a car. Ahmed was fairly less than impressed and vowed to launch a round the clock operation to catch this spritely old age pensioner.
The sunbed bandit was never caught and clearly lived to pilfer another day; I hear that this year the hotel parasols are mysteriously disappearing.