Meet Linda – bridging the culture gap with Race for Life.

 

I was warned before I contacted Linda that she might be hard to get hold  of, that she was one of those people who “does stuff.” I found out later that “stuff” includes two walking groups, Turkish classes, an art club, Stitch ‘n’ Bitch (all the explanation you need is in the name,) that she volunteers for the Calis Children’s Charity and is on the committee organising Fethiye’s first ever Race For Life. In actual fact she wasn’t hard to get hold of. I think perhaps busy people are more efficient, she agreed to be interviewed and within three days I was back in Eyna, drinking coffee and enjoying hearing her tell me about her life in Turkey.

Discovering Turkey: not quite as foreign as expected.

“I first came to Turkey in 1994, I didn’t know anything about it – I thought I was coming to a desert, I went to the doctor and had all my injections done! While I was here I went to Kaya Koy and as soon as I got there I just knew this was somewhere I’d want to stay. I came back for holidays once or twice a year with my children and we always stayed at the same place in Kaya. In 2011 I moved over with my partner John and we got married here last April. We decided to live in Calis – there were just so many things we wanted to be involved in and the cost of petrol going back and forth from Kaya would’ve been a fortune.

“In England  I was a manager for a company providing domiciliary care for people with learning disabilities. It was a lovely job, it was a non-profit organisation so it was never about making money just about the quality of the care. Then Social Service’s budgets started getting cut and cut and I didn’t want to be in charge of something that just wasn’t a good service any more. So I started working all the hours I could, overpaying my mortgage where I could, until we could afford to come here.”

A different way of life.

“It’s so beautiful here, and the people are so lovely. I really love how close families are, how there’s still respect for your elders. They still have a lot of values here that are missing in England.

“Things aren’t the same once you’re here though, just little things but we have ways of doing stuff in England that aren’t the same here – we’re very overly polite, we stand in queues. And the driving I just hate it, someone drove into me last week. I don’t enjoy driving, but I don’t like being a passenger either. It’s just a cultural thing – we’re very inclined to wait whether it’s in a supermarket or a car but people here aren’t – it’s not personal they do it to everyone.

“At the same time people are so generous. When we do the school visits with the 3C’s, the people really have nothing, but they won’t let us leave empty handed. And my neighbour, when I had a cough recently she went all round to load of different pharmacies and kept bringing me different potions to try. It just wouldn’t happen back home.”

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Sian the Optimistic Blogger, on Moving to Fethiye Alone

I’ve been reading Sian’s blog for the last few months. It’s a lifestyle blog. More specifically a ‘life in Turkey’ blog which of course I can identify with. However what sets it apart is its outrageous positivity. Not in an alienating no-normal-person-can-possibly-be-this-happy way, but in a seize-life-with-both-hands-and-run-with-it way. Sian is a self confessed optimist, a person who doesn’t see the point in waiting for life to happen but actively thinks “sod it, let’s go for it.”

I am not quite sure what to expect when I go to interview her. I’ve never actually seen her in person, though candid snap shots pepper her blog, and more than once her collection of tattoos, and her distaste for wearing dresses, is mentioned. I know she made the somewhat unusual choice to move to Turkey way before retirement age, and not in the company of a significant other – she’d been happily single for fifteen years at that point – but with her two rather elderly cats. I know that since arriving she has fallen in love with a man (and his motorbike) and that she is an active volunteer for The Calis Children’s Charity, aka the 3 C’s. I have no idea how all these rather disparate puzzle pieces fit together, but I am looking forward to finding out.

We meet in the beach-front Eyna Cafe, the home of the 3C’s charity shop, the 6TL for coffee and cake deal, and an immense rubber tree that provides the cooling type of shade a plastic awning-extension just can’t. I have been half expecting her to be loud, maybe a little sweary, to have the kind of hair that says ‘recently I was a completely different colour’ or ‘a few more days and I’ll turn into dreadlocks.’ She is none of these things. In fact my initial reaction is surprise at just how reserved she is.

She tells me how she discovered Turkey, the seven visits in three years to a friend who’d recently made the move and how she began to research the possibility of coming herself.

“Things just fell into place. I managed to sell my flat in Kent. I got a part time online job with a UK firm. Then most important of all the quarantine rules were relaxed and I could bring my elderly cats without them having to spend six months in limbo. I just didn’t have any excuse not to come.”

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