We’re now settled in to Finike for the winter. Finike is a bijou little town of 11, 200 inhabitants, nestling on the seaward edge of a semicircular alluvial flood plain surrounded by snow capped mountains. Most of the flood plain is dedicated to citrus fruit and growing vegetables under polythene. The Finike area exports oranges all over Europe. Here endeth the geography lesson.

The marina has a large number of overwintering boats and there are currently about 80 yotties living aboard. That means about one in every 140 people here is an overwintering yottie. That’s not bad odds. All we need now are a couple of gunboats, a few heavily one-sided trading agreements and an unscrupulous disregard for the Turks’ open friendliness and hospitality.

If you speak to most liveaboard yotties, one of the main reasons they give for choosing the lifestyle is a desire to get away from the regimentation and rat-race of their previous existence. Why is it then that, once settled in a marina for the winter, they instantly set up a regime of such fearsome regimentation that it would bring tears of envy to the eyes of a French Foreign Legion commandant?

Just take a look at the outline timetable shown above. This is just the standing agenda. On top of this are the extraordinary events which are shoehorned into any minute space inadvertently and inexplicably left vacant.

So far we’ve been to Beethoven and Mozart concerts, and a performance of Die Fledermaus in Antalya. The latter was not an unqualified success, performed as it was in Turkish. We went along under the naïve impression that an operetta was a little opera. Oh no it’s not. It’s as long as or longer than a normal opera (nearly 3 hours in this case) but with less singing and lots more talking. In Turkish. We had great difficulty in following the plot, but what we did manage to work out suggested it was, in essence, a Whitehall farce in 3/4 time. There was much opening and closing of doors, mistaken identity and rushing in and out of windows. No dropped trousers though.

However Liz, our resident aesthete and opera critic passed judgement that “The hall was nice and warm and the seats were very comfy”. Can’t argue with that for an in depth cultural analysis.

Bob has been attending the Turkish lessons, which have not proved up to explaining the intricacies of 19th Century Viennese farces, and the music club. Unfortunately this is populated in its entirety by guitarists, most of them extreme beginners. They can only play in the key of C. This would be fine for Bob, were the tenor sax not a transposing instrument. This would mean he would have to transpose into two sharps. His request that they transposed into two flats was met with either baffled stares or open hostility so he has settled, so far, for bawling out ‘The wild rover’ and ‘dirty old town’, more with gusto than musical sensitivity. He has, however, come across a flautist and they’re going to have a go at some Jazz and blues together.

Liz ventured to the local hammam, or Turkish bath along with a group of other female yotties. The hammam is open to women on Tuesdays and to men on all the other days. Possibly the men are much filthier than the women (quite feasible) or Tuesday night is nookie night.

On entering the baths she was presented with a supposedly modesty-preserving towel the size of a large serviette (or ‘table napkin’ if you’re posh) and waved over to the changing rooms. From there you go to the main room which is octagonal in shape and constructed entirely of marble. Each face accommodates an alcove containing seating and a supply of hot water.

After a few minutes of refined chat you are called one by one to the sacrificial slab. After a vigorous scrubbing, twisting, bending and dousing with water (hot and cold) she left feeling clean, refreshed and as if one nipple had been scoured off.

Bob was very excited by the weekly quiz night and scuttled down there like a dog with two tails, clutching his magic lucky pencil. Disaster. He has met his nemesis in the form of Sheila who has managed to whup his ass on each of the three quizzes so far. So he’s going to get his own back by doing a quiz of his own that is so fiendish that even she won’t be able to win it. (Fundamental flaw in logic here somewhere – ed)

We note from our perusing of the Jersey Evening Post website that Islanders are in fits of apoplectic self-righteous indignation about so-called ‘health tourism’ where bloody foreigners are flooding into the island with suppurating exotic diseases and conditions and conning the hardworking Jersey tax evaders ( Sorry – tax payers) into supplying them with medical services.

They could learn a lot from the Turks.

Ever since our flying visit to Portugal Liz has had a sore throat for about 4 weeks. Of course, with her extensive experience and knowledge of ear, nose and throat pathology she immediately thinks the worst and makes the diagnosis of throat cancer and imminent demise. Bob stuck a torch down her throat and said it looked more like a generalised inflammation of the soft palate to him, but she’s the expert.

We enquired of the marina office and they said to go to the local hospital and make an appointment with the ENT department. So we did.

It was like a scene out of MASH. Finike is mainly an agricultural town. Very dangerous occupation, agriculture. The place was mobbed with people milling around with bandaged limbs, horrendous burns, patched up heads and blood everywhere, as if they’d just escaped from a war zone. Or I suppose it could have been St. Helier on a Saturday night.

Few people in Turkey, outside of the holiday hotspots, speak English, and Finike is a small little market town, well off the tourist trail, so it wasn’t surprising that the reception staff spoke little or no English. They did, however, have a sheet of paper with the various departments listed in English and Turkish, so we pointed at ENT (KBB, since you ask) and made approving noises. The receptionist banged a few keys and waggled the mouse a couple of times and turned the screen to us, showing a large red rectangle containing the words KBB Dolu! (full). This was hardly surprising, given the heaving mass of suffering humanity around us, so we tried to indicate that we would like to make an appointment for a future, and one hoped, less crowded time.

At this point the combined efforts of phrase book, dictionary and sign language fell down. Despite the mob of people trying to get his attention, the receptionist kept smiling, indicated that we should wait to one side and made a phone call.

Soon after, a guy in blue scrubs appeared and asked us in English how he could help. We explained, and he said to wait a moment and waded his way through the walking wounded in the corridor. About five minutes later he returned and told us to follow him back whence he’d come. We waded through after him, trying not to exacerbate any injuries, and came to the KBB department, outside of which was a crowd of around 40 people all waiting for their name to come up on the screens above the door, which showed the lucky five at the top of the list.

He ushered us past the assembled throng and straight into the consulting rooms. We thought we were going to get lynched.

Once inside the ‘Uzmani’ (translates as ‘specialist’ – probably equivalent to consultant or registrar) examined Liz, who was pleased make the professional observation that he had ‘all the proper gear’. He diagnosed chronic pharyngitis, thus putting Liz’s mind at rest apart from the guilt about queue jumping which went into overdrive.

We went back to reception and paid the standard charge that a Turk would pay – 15 Turkish Lira, about 6 quid.

We were not just treated as well as the locals, we were treated better. As we were escorted out by our friend in scrubs, Bob asked him about our jumping the queue of almost certainly more deserving patients. “You are guests in our country” he replied. “It is our duty to be hospitable”.

Sometimes even seasoned cynics like Bob are humbled by events.

Mind you, I don’t know if the poor buggers in the queue would agree with his sentiments.

Originally written for birvidik

posts by birvidik