Day 22: Cirali: Taxi
I came upon the accident after it happened and watched as the driver stared at a hole his minivan gashed into a parked car. These streets are narrow, why was he backing up? People walked by, rubbernecking, and the driver yelled at them in rapid Turkish.
I’d only been in Antalya for three days but after many hours of walking the streets, I was surprised that there weren’t more crashes throughout the day. The narrow streets would be enough of a challenge, but cars park along these streets and the only way through is to drive around those parked cars and hope you don’t hit a wall.
It was time for my before breakfast goodbye walk as I retraced my steps around the area. I’d figured out the layout of the town; it was easier than I first thought. I wandered through the harbor then made my way to the series of parks lining the sea. The view was good at 7:00 AM.
I passed through Hadrian’s Gate, again, and found an ATM that claimed my bank wouldn’t charge for using it, which is a wonder of the traveling world, no ATM fees? I wandered through the city and reminded myself that I don’t like sleeping in the tourist areas, preferring diversity in the things I see and do. What was I thinking when I booked Kaleici?
My favorite ice-cream shop, hidden on a side street outside of the tourist corner, wasn’t open yet. Too bad. I’d like a before breakfast ice-cream. People shared the sidewalk with me as they headed to work. Many women wore heels: I remember heels!
I spotted an “Evil Eye” symbol imbedded in a building and realized I’d moved from discovering them as if I were on a scavenger hunt, to looking at them and feeling protected. How did that change come about?
There were other subtle changes in me in my three weeks of traveling through Turkey. I no longer want to photograph every woman wearing a headscarf. When people speak to me in Turkish, something small, I’m better at guessing the topic or the idea or the intention and don’t feel the need to give the “I don’t understand” pantomime. I carry only one small water bottle with me, then buy another when it is finished.
The store vendors have gotten used to me passing by their shops and all but one gave up on getting a big sale from me. The carpet store was open and the salesman stood outside and was in the mood to talk.
“How the town today?” he asked me in English.
“Slow.” I said. “It’s early.”
He nodded. “I think today you buy at carpet.”
I smiled at his continued ability to turn every conversation towards buying a carpet. “No, thank you.”
“We mail it you house. It be on floor when you go home and remember good Turkey. This essential for future remembering.”
It would be cool if the UPS driver opened my packages and displayed the contents around my house. Maybe he could dust while he’s there, or fix the shed’s door that needs tending. “I am a teacher.” I tell the vender. “I only have enough money to look, never to buy.”
He continues. “Teachers best customers.” He steps closer. “Teachers good taste. Most our customers teachers.” He points to me. “Teachers understand quality. Our carpet they like.”
He’d be better off saying that teachers deserve a magic carpet ride after grueling hours surrounded by children who would rather play video games. I would buy a magaic carpet.
After breakfast I checked out of my hotel and asked the owner to call a taxi for me. He remembered where I was going from past conversations and said that he was building apartments in Cirali and wished me a very good vacation.
The taxi driver put my suitcase in the trunk and when I was safely in the car he started the car and put the air conditioning on right away which doesn’t always happen. Then he hit reverse.
Wait. You’re driving backwards?
He drove backwards down the street. These narrow streets. Past parked cars. Around corners. He stopped and repositioned the car, then continued. Around another turn. Down another street. There were no seatbelts. Or helmets.
I didn't know whether to look behind me where we were going or look out the front window to where we’d been or close my eyes. I did a little of each. I wanted to tell him I’d be willing to pay the extra dollar to drive forward around the block, but had trouble forming words.
Finally we got out of the old quarter and he turned the car forward and drove. My breathing slowed and I watched the city from the comfort of the car. Breathe. Breathe.
The driver offered to drive me to Cirali for $50 Euro. Note to self, It’s never a good idea to stay in places that charge in a foreign currency that’s not mine. When I declined he picked up the radio and told his dispatch that I didn’t want a taxi ride to Citali.
I really think that’s what he said. And it made me feel like there was a network of people trying to manipulate me, like the movie, “The Truman Show.” If there was such a network of such people, please tell them I’d like the spicy tomato paste and the cream with honey added back on my breakfast buffets because I’m missing them so.
At the bus station I bought my ticket and went outside. I easily located a man managing the area and said, “Cirali?” He pointed to a bus and a young man in street clothes took my suitcase from me and checked my ticket.
I’d learned from my time here that there are managers standing around the bus stations directing people; that’s why they don’t have signs: they use people. And every bus has up to three staff: one to drive, to deal with the luggage and one to serve complimentary drinks.
It was dubbed a 90 minute bus ride, but that timing didn’t start until we’d spent an hour driving around the city picking people up. It wasn’t an issue for me, I had time.
The bus stopped and a lot of people got off at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. I got off and asked the driver as I pointed to the ground, “Cirali?”
He nodded, but had a worried look on his face.
I knew I had to transfer to another bus. A lot of people went to this one mini bus, so I figured this was my bus.
I put my suitcase in the back then showed the driver my address. He shook his head so I started fumbling with my phone, looking for a map of where I was going when the driver had a woman speak to me.
“This is not the bus to Cirali.” she said.
I laughed, glad I didn’t get on that bus. I said to the driver, “Cirali?”
He motioned for me to sit down, then motioned that he’d called somebody at a bus company.”
I thanked him. Before he drove away he pointed to the manager of this oasis off the highway.
The manager walked up to me and said, “Cirali.” and after an hour wait, put me on the right bus.
It was only a fifteen minute drive to my next home for a few days, a cabin community in an orange grove on the Mediterarean Sea. My cabin was a family sized unit. The man in charge had made good on my reservation when the dates got boggled in his system, but he had to put me in a larger unit.
I didn’t care. I was glad to slow down. I was glad to be here.