A final note on Kusadasi

A few days after departing Kusadasi, I thought everything was behind me. It pretty much was … until I was reunited with Claire in Olympos.

I was sitting at the treetop bar, enjoying my last evening in my adult summer camp surroundings when she sat next to me.

“Claire! Hi!” I squealed as she took a seat next to me.

She and I had been in touch during everything in Kusadasi. She knew what had happened.

“You won’t believe the message I got on Facebook,” she said.

“Oh god, is it about me?”

“Yup.”

“Can I see it? Will it make me mad?”

“Probably.” She opened her computer and logged into Facebook.

This is the message Murat wrote her (WARNING: strong language is used):

Also I explein you 1 more thing.
There is a 1 idiot bitch write a mesage to your wall about me and I hope you can guess.(diane)
I sended her from her 2. day and do you want to hear whats the real reason.
She dosent need a job she just want to her own room because she is looking for a people who will fuck her.
İn 2 days she finded 3 different people and you can guess who is the first man.(nathan).
Its not your problem but I just want to explein you because if anybody write a mesage about me maybe same time I need to say whats the real happened.

TAKE CARE.
BY

I closed the computer and closed that miserable chapter of my adventure and together, we burst into laughter.

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Running Scared

After a couple of hours at the beach, I went back to the hotel to shower and do some writing.

I tried to sneak back into the hotel, I didn’t want to see Murat’s beady little eyes glaring at me.

Fortunately, he was sleeping on the couch, so I didn’t have to talk to him.

Door locked, I took a quick shower (no hot water) and was getting dressed when I heard a knock at my door.

I froze.

“Yes?” I called.

“Hi.”

It was Murat. At my door.

I didn’t say anything. I had these images running through my mind of him coming in to my (empty) dorm room with his key … fear ripped through my body.

I said nothing. I dressed quietly, waiting to hear footsteps fade … the elevator door to open.

Nothing.

I had no idea what to do. All I knew was there was no way in hell I would let him come into the room. There was no one in the hotel that afternoon. No one would know anything.

Never in my life have I felt trapped, but I did that Sunday afternoon … wondering how long I needed to wait to emerge safely from my room and avoid the one man who actually inspired fear.

I toyed with getting my little Swiss Army knife out of my pack, but reasoned it was more dangerous to me than anyone else, so instead, decided I would have to exit my room quickly, squeezing through a barely opened door and quickly shutting it behind me so if he was still there, he couldn’t get in the room alone with me.

There was no way I would let him get into my room.

I opened the door just a crack. Silently.

He wasn’t there.

Swiftly, I moved from my room to the abandoned hall, clutching my laptop against my chest and stepping towards the elevator.

Then, Murat appeared in the doorway of the room across the hall.

He has been there the entire time. Waiting for me to exit my room.

I looked at him blankly, silently hating every part of his being.

“What?” I asked him.

“I owe you an apology,” he offered.

“OK.”

“I am sorry. I was stressed this morning. How are you?”

Was this an olive branch? Did I even give a shit?

“I’m great. I had a great day.”

“Can we talk on the terrace?”

“Fine,” I said, sighing.

There was nothing he could possibly say to me to make things OK. He had come to my room. Stalked my door. My guard was on high.

We got into the elevator.

He smiled at me. I responded with a smirk.

Then, he was on me. Trying to kiss me. I squirmed out of his grasp, his lips planting on my cheek.

You’ve got to be kidding me. He didn’t get it. He was relentless.

I said nothing. I was too angry to open my mouth. I didn’t trust what would come out. There have only been a few times in my life where I have been too stunned to talk — all similar situations like the one in the elevator, but even worse — and exited the elevator and walked out to the terrace.

I trailed behind him, seething, as we joined his family at a table.

“Tea? Coffee?” he asked, pretending the little event in the elevator had not happened.

“No,” I replied, not even looking his direction.

“So, I booked some tours today,” he began.

I looked at him, hatred spilling out of me.

Why on earth was he telling me this? I didn’t care.

He rambled on about booking tours as if I was still working for him. As if his apology meant everything was OK.

I said nothing the entire time we were on the terrace and left as soon as he got up.

When Nathan got back that night, I told him what had happened.

I told my parents what had happened. I told everyone I knew. And, everyone said the same thing:

“GET OUT OF THERE.”

After dinner at the restaurant, Ash and I walked over to a hotel down the street and I inquired about rooms for Tuesday and Wednesday, since I couldn’t get back on my bus tour until Thursday morning.

They had rooms. Even that night, if I wanted one.

I figured I would be OK spending one more night there. So long as there were people in my dorm room, I wasn’t worried.

I said goodbye to Ash and headed back up to the hotel.

I walked into the lobby, and there was Murat, at reception, staring blankly at the computer screen.

“I need to show you something on the computer,” he said as soon as I walked in.

Screw you.

“I am going upstairs to get my laptop. When I come down, you can.”

I went to my room. There were no other bags in there. I was the only person sleeping there.

Great.

I went back down to the lobby and opened up my computer. I didn’t have any intention of looking at his computer. I didn’t care. I thought he wanted my help with something.

Three more times has asked me to look at his computer. Well, the third was more of a demand: “Look at the computer and then finish what you are doing.”

Every time I told him I was busy, when I was done I would look.

I didn’t need to answer to him, to do anything for him. I was going against what he was used to — I was telling him no.

Finally, I stood up and went to the desk.

He turned the screen to me.

My heart sank.

There, on the screen was Claire’s Facebook page where I had written: “Guess who got fired? Long story. DO NOT WORK THERE.”

I knew he had tried to convince her to come back and work after she was done touring Turkey and I hadn’t wanted her to make the same mistake I did.

And, now, there was her Facebook page, with my message loud and proud, staring back at me from his account.

I was paralyzed.

“What is this? Why did you write this?” Murat questioned me, squinting eyes and lips curled in anger.

Why? Because you are the creepiest man alive and I think I actually hate you.

I had to answer quickly.

“It’s none of your business.”

“What is this?” He tried again, shoulders shrugging, arms lifted out, expecting me to launch into why I would write such a thing on this girl’s wall.

“It’s none of your business. It was a conversation between she and I.”

Facebook stalker.

“You stay at my hotel …” he began, looking at me with as much hatred as I had looked at him.

“Then I will leave,” I announced, grabbing my laptop and getting into the elevator in one swift move.

I raced into my room, threw everything into my bags. Panicked. He was angry. And, I was scared of his anger.

GO. GogogogogogoGO.

My heart beat in my throat as I rounded everything up, racing against a confrontation I was certain would happen in my room.

I went to the elevator to push the button down. But, right as my finger went to touch the button, it launched back down to the lobby.

He’s coming up here.

In my two euro flip flops, 15 kilo bag strapped to me, messenger bag and purse, I “ran” down the stairs, stopping at the bottom when I caught a glimpse of Murat … getting into the elevator and closing the door.

I froze, hiding behind the corner until I heard the door shut. Then, I booked it out of there as fast as I could, gathering people I had met along the way to walk with me to my new hotel.

The thing about this town is everyone is connected (and I will leave it at that … use your imagination), and that fact alone struck fear into every inch of my body.

I ran to the restaurant after I had checked in, telling Ash what had happened. She secured me an escort back to my hotel.

Never has the fight or flight kicked in so hard.

I looked around corners. I opened my room door and kept it open until I had checked my bathroom. I could just imagine Murat talking to the owner of this hotel, his “friend,” and getting a key and waiting for me like he had earlier in the day.

I checked my landline to make sure it was plugged in. I put my cell phone next to my bed. I told the hotel owner under no circumstances were any of his staff to tell anyone I was here, even if they asked for me by name.

That night, I slept with my backpack propped against the door, heart racing the entire night.

The following morning, I felt better. Until I turned on my computer. One of his staff members had created a Twitter account. I was the only person they were following.

For the second time in 24 hours, my heart sank. They had read everything I had written … I was in BIG TROUBLE.

Tears in my eyes, I deleted any reference (although I never mentioned anyone or anything by name) and blocked them from following me.

I went to my room and cried. Truly scared. I had pissed off the wrong person and I knew it.

Then, I did the one thing every parent dreads. I called home via Skype.

Sobbing, I told my dad what had happened. I gave him Murat’s name, the hotel’s name, the new hotel’s name. He tried to calm me down. Tried to talk me into going to the Greek Islands (which, thanks to Schengen, I couldn’t do). Tried to make sense of everything his very frightened daughter was telling him.

“Go to the police,” he urged. “Tell them what is going on.”

“It won’t matter,” I cried. “They won’t do anything. I am telling you, this town is all connected. They won’t care what some stupid girl is telling them. They will tell him I went to the police.”

I couldn’t come straight out and tell my parents, who were thousands and thousands of miles away what was really on my mind — I was scared for my life. For my safety.

As I talked with my parents, the hotel phone rang.

“Heellloooo,” I answered, trying to sound as un-American as possible.

“Hi,” said the owner’s brother, “Ash is here. Can she come up to see you?”

I told him that was fine and when she got to the door, I made sure it was her before I opened it.

“Hello love,” she said, standing at my door. Then, she took note of my tear-stained face. “I came to make sure you were OK.”

I sat on one of the single beds, and more tears flowed as I explained to her what had happened, how I was now being followed on Twitter, how they knew everything …

It took me nearly the entire day to return to a normal state of mind.

By nightfall, I was back at the restaurant, my little haven of safe. I was booked on the next Fez bus out of town, departing from tourist information, a separate pick-up from the one at the hotel. I had two more nights there. That was all.

In the next 48-hours I learned even more about the twisted world of Kusadasi, the role women are expected to play, that “no” doesn’t mean “no” at all and more.

I didn’t walk anywhere by myself. I didn’t, for one second, let my guard down. I always made sure I knew who was around me, where I was going, where I had been. I opened my door slowly in my hotel room, always peering into the bathroom and opening the closet before I shut the door and was inside.

On my final night in that little town, Ash and I had drinks. She came over early in the afternoon after quitting her job at the restaurant (that story is coming next, promise). She and I sat on the rooftop of Hotel Lima drinking rose and exchanging tales of our lives, then that night, we headed back towards my old hotel to roundup the Fez tour driver to let them know I was here and what had happened. I sent one of my new friends up to the hotel to grab the tour guide.

There was no way in hell I would go near that place.

Wouldn’t you know who walked down the hill to meet the two of us at the T-shirt shop?

SCOTTY.

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Congrats, you’re hired; Sorry, you’re fired

I thought the offer of free room, food and drinks in exchange for work at the hotel in Kusadasi, Turkey sounded too good to be true.

It was.

There were so many warning bells going off in my head when I accepted the job, and unlike the good (and safe) traveler I normally am, I ignored every single sign.

The owner of Otel Panorama, Murat, needed help. I needed to not spend money to get me back on budget. I accepted the gig in order to have two weeks being money-free.

Instead, my time in Kusadasi ended up being the most stressful week of my life. I felt scared. Alone. Unsure of who I could trust. If I could trust anyone.

The day before I started my job, a group of us from the hotel went to a restaurant at Murat’s recommendation. Claire, a red-headed Aussie who he had tried to get to work there, and two girls from the Fez Tour and I walked down to the water at sunset to enjoy dinner.

As the sun lit the sky fire red and orange, we sipped on drinks and dinner, breathing in the Aegean town’s beauty.

It was there I met Ashleika, a great girl from Wales who had worked at the hotel and who had been fired by Murat after two weeks. His excuse? “It’s not working.”

Reality? He had wanted her and she had wanted someone else. When he found out, he canned her.

It was also there I met Mustafa — his brother owned the place — and he walked around taking orders and hitting on his female clientele.

Classy.

(Mustafa is another story …)

As we were leaving, he produced a card and handed it to me, explaining since I was working for Murat, I would get 50 percent off all of my tabs.

Well, damn. That’s a good deal.

I walked back to the hotel that night with a smile on my face. I was excited to spend two weeks in Kusadasi. I was looking forward to meeting cool travelers, not spending money, and unpacking my bag.

Everything is not as it seems.

My first day of work sent shivers down my spine.

Murat had gone out the night before with Claire and a few other people (he liked her and wanted to do lord-knows-what with her), so he slept nearly the entire day, leaving me to fend for myself.

About midday, he woke up, reeking of booze, white shirt buttoned wrong and gaping at the belly, beady eyes barely opened and slicked back hair, grimy.

He told me to go and get lunch on the terrace, and grabbed my hand to lead me up the stairs.

Ugh, holding my hand? Gross.

“Let’s take the elevator,” I suggested.

He held my hand tighter, guiding me with a little more force towards the stairs.

“Murat, it’s six flights of stairs. I have a bad knee. Let’s take the elevator,” I said again.

He refused, leading me up the steps.

As we rounded the second flight of stairs, Murat (who has a wife and child that LIVE at the hotel) cornered me.

I could smell the alcohol seeping through his dirty pores as he backed me against the wall, one arm against the railing on one side of me, one arm against the wall on the other, and him directly in front of me.

And then he tried to kiss me.

I dodged it, his filthy lips grazing my cheek, his hand ruffling my hair.Then, I continued walking up the stairs, ignoring it when he smacked my ass.

Anger shot through my veins.

Hit him, D. Slap him across his gross face. Tell him to F off.

I did none of those things. Instead, I resolved that if he tried anything again, I would fight back, and then quit.

But, the groundwork for my hatred of him had already been laid. Every time I looked at him that day, my face betrayed my calm, shooting him looks of disgust.

Working there was ruined.

The next day, I had planned a World Cup party on the terrace.

After six hours of working during the day, Murat told me I could leave for a little and go relax. I went straight to the restaurant to find Ash. She was someone I could talk to. Someone who, even though I barely knew her, would listen.

After an hour sitting seaside sipping on cold Effes, I went back up to the hotel, promising after the game I would come back down and hang out with her.

We had about 10 guests watching the game. I served them beer, making tick marks on a sheet of paper each time I popped a cold one and delivered it to the futbol viewers.

We all had drinks. It was fun.

After the game, Nathan, a sweet guy from Australia, and I decided to head out to grab another drink. We stopped in at the restaurant to say hi to Ash (and Mustafa) and have a quick drink. When Mustafa invited us to the beach, we declined.

“No guy invites someone to the beach at night without motives,” Nate said. At first I didn’t think it was true, but later I realized just how right he was.

I came up with some pithy excuse why we couldn’t go, and then Nate and I headed out to some discos on the aptly named Bar Street.

He and I danced until the wee hours of the morning. Then, we headed back to the hotel and grabbed a beer on the terrace.

Nothing happened between us. Unless you count curling up on the cushions together.

I knew better than to sleep there, so I retreated to my room at 5 a.m.

The next morning, I went downstairs to start work.

“Good morning, Boss,” I said, plopping down on the seat next to him outside.

He wouldn’t look at me, he just smoked his Marlboro Red, staring out into the street in front of us.

“Did you have breakfast yet?” He asked.

“No …” I began.

“Well, go eat breakfast and then go pack your bags and move out of the private room and into the dorm.”

What?

“What? Why?” I questioned him.

“It isn’t working,” he said.

“What have I done?” I asked, anger and frustration leaking out of my body.

“You are not on holiday and you are acting like you are,” he replied.

I questioned him some more and then realized it wasn’t worth it. I wasn’t going to fight for a job I didn’t even like with a boss who was clearly shady.

I went to my room, gathered my stuff, moved everything to the dingy dorm room and went back downstairs so he could fill out my passport information and I could pay him for the three nights I spent there before my “employment” started.

“You gave away drinks last night.”

“What? No, I didn’t. I would never do that.”

“I know you did. You didn’t mark down everyone’s drinks.”

We went through the tabs and I argued. Fought for myself. Not because I wanted to work there, but because I wanted to show I was honest and would never cheat him.

He was having none of it.

I left, tears spilling from my eyes, and headed down to the restaurant to Ash and Mustafa.

I needed someone to tell me I hadn’t done anything wrong.

I re-told the events of the morning to Ash who had said my getting canned had nothing to do with my work and everything to do with Nathan.

“That slime ball has cameras on the terrace. He knew you two were up there. Once you were with him, he figured you were worthless to him.”

It made sense.

Mustafa announced he was going to take me to the beach for the afternoon to get my mind off of the drama at the hotel. I agreed. (Again, the Mustafa story is coming … soon).

After we returned from the beach I went back to the hotel and messaged my parents and some friends, telling them the story. When I re-told it, it didn’t seem so bad.

Except things would only get worse …

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