You expected to leave the resort with nothing but a tan and a suitcase full of dirty washing. What you hadn’t bargained for was falling head over high heels in Love.
Two best friends, frankly in each other’s company we lorded ourselves up as if we were better than Amy Fucking Wino. Naturally, anyone else’s company was inferior. We spent most of our time together, relaying in detail the trials and tribulations of two sometime single girls in London. How we could have predicted that something as benign as booking our annual girly jaunt abroad would yield us the rollercoaster experience that we would share; I don’t know. We had of course dreamt of Italy but as glamorous and jet setting as we deemed ourselves, Lake Como would have to wait until we were rich and famous which would be soon, but not soon enough. After all we’d broken too many wine classes in the past by getting above our stations toasting to the here and now, to sit back and let a little thing like money stand in the way of some sort of sun drenched fun. So in the end we plumped for Turkey which we assured ourselves would be an acceptable kind of cheap, you know not in a Costa del ‘got no soul’ way but in a yeah darling they’ve even got Mosques and stuff way. I’ll be honest we did have our doubts though. I mean god, what if the Turks turn out like the Arabs? And let’s face it no one who’s been to Tunisia wants to go back. We told ourselves to stop being so un- PC. We would bask in the rich culture of the country and whilst there soak up some rays – and if the people were cunts we could just drink fuck loads of Raki and dance to Euro Trash – Perfect.
By the time we had maneuvered our sun loungers into the optimum position to catch the Sun we were, for two upbeat girls, in a strangely contemplative mood. I directed my gaze away from the obscenely beautiful couple in front of us, who I kid you not, were frolicking lovingly in the surf as if they were being bank rolled by fucking Sandals. Tossers! We looked at each other, looked at the couple and burst out laughing realising exactly what the other was thinking. Yes, we were 4000 miles away from them and yes, we were still actually thinking about our bastard ex boyfriends. This needed to be rectified – immediately, so to cheer ourselves up we ordered Beers at 11:30am and willed the cocktail of heat and the booze to go straight to our heads. The sun only momentarily eclipsed by the raising of plastic pint glasses ‘To the best holiday yet!’
Later we decided to try out the Turkish bath opposite our Hotel. Escaping the scorching Sun, we began the descent into the innards of this underground Haman. We clasped each others sweaty palms to steady ourselves on the moist staircase as our eyes adjusted to the darkness. At the bottom of the stair well a small fountain trickled, a group of men hunched over it flicking the ash from their cigarettes into the merky pool of water. We were welcomed by this plethora of hairy chests and Gingham Sarongs and led into a musty cubicle where we changed into our Bikinis. The changing room curtain hung unevenly and I cringed when the Jackson Pollock of Mould which covered the material touched my skin. Suitably attired we followed a man and his fleshy belly which hung over his Sarong like a bulging water balloon fit to burst. This sight made us feel instantly more confident about our lovely lady lumps. The room he left us in was vast with a skylight domed roof where light flooded onto a huge circular marble slab. We stood for a minute in awkward silence while two guys looked us up and down before opening their sarongs and dowsing their manhood with water from the fountain. Well at least they’d ahem, cooled down before they gestured us to lie down on the Slab. We were then scrubbed raw; well that’s what it felt like to our sunburned bodies. After getting over the initial weirdness of being washed head to toe by a strange man I found myself gripped by girlish giggles as he gently extended my leg and placed my foot on his knee where he then carefully washed in-between my toes. I felt a bit embarrassed as this is a place that is often neglected by my own daily wash routine. I was now spread eagled on the Marble while he set to work exfoliating my back. I was nearly drifting off when I heard a deep gurgle, as Nicolas bottom having been pummeled one time too many, gave the dripping marble a lip smacking fart. ‘Oh my God I just farted’ I couldn’t reply as my whole body was involuntarily paralysed with laughter. The finale was an all body oil slick massage. My Masseuse was not sadly a ripped young man but one of a leathery skinned vintage. At first I felt terribly uncomfortable but as soon as I realised he wasn’t a pervert, after he graciously accepted my refusal to take off my Bikini I relaxed. Afterwards I asked Nicola how she got on.
‘He was a bit over the top on the tit massage, how about you?’ I didn’t have the heart to say anything accept ‘yeah it was a bit odd’
The next day my friend wanted to try Diving again after she caught some deep sea thrills from our last trip to Greece. I couldn’t think of anything worse, not being a fan of even getting my hair wet in the shower, which I attribute to my fearless youth. I was thirteen and thought it would be ‘cool’ to Tombstone off the North Devon coast. After being fortunate enough to somehow float my bones back to dry land I knew such stupidity would at least never resurface. Anyway as I felt a bit guilty about not accompanying Nicola on that last excursion I thought I should make the effort this time. I did however console myself with the fact that I would get a head start in the Tan stakes – I’d be baking on deck whilst the water babies all around me could dive ‘till their hearts were content. Plus free lunch and drinks were included.
Two pairs of Fluro coloured Havianas later we lead the crowd of German and Russian tourists onto the Boat. I’d only taken one toke of my Parliament before two of the crew were taking our vitals; Names, Age, and Fuckabilty, I mean Nationality. My mate was flirting but I didn’t like what I saw so much, headed starboard and flicked my fag end out to sea. When the boat finally chugged out of the Harbor Nicola was still creaming at the sight of one particular bare chested Turk ‘Look at him’ she said, ‘God he’s Hot’. She breathlessly over emphasized the God bit like she was climaxing or something. But to be honest I was much more interested in finding out if complimentary drinks meant free Beer?
Fifteen minutes out to sea the boat dropped anchor opposite a steep slate verge, beautifully accented by linear pine trees which gave the impression that somewhere deep within this natural wall of rich viridian lay a forgotten fortress. Unfortunately the Boat was just shy of the shadow cast by the rocky out cropping and the strong aroma of pine and the unbearable dry heat made me feel like a dog trapped inside a car. Before I could comment on the view and the sweltering heat Nicola catapulted herself into the emerald water below. I was aching to do to the same but found myself frozen like a poor mans figurehead at the prow of the Boat. I attempted to settle myself with a book, but by the end of the first paragraph a bead of sweat rolled off my chin blotting the next sentence on the page. I was regretting my decision to join my friend on this excursion and feel hopelessly marooned on this wooden Island. By Midday I’m practically heaving from the fumes which are rising from the ‘facilities’ below deck and wishing that everyone would do me a favour and use the big toilet bowl in the Sea. P Diddys Yacht, this ain’t. Surveying my Bubble Wrap forearms it seems that any hope of getting a decent tan has gone out the friggin’ Port Hole. And to add insult to injury, during lunch Nicola kindly informs me that my face resembles an under cooked steak. She also tells me (with misguided enthusiasm) that one of the instructors took her out of the group to show her a cave; whilst all the way she could feel his erection against her back – nice. I enquire who it was, thinking she may have struck gold with the guy she liked. But when she points to the crew member we’ve already nick named Shrek we laugh so hard, we even distract the fat Russian sitting next to us from his food.
I quite like talking to guys who I don’t fancy, it’s kind of empowering. So when my mates hot Turk makes a bee line for me after his dive I enjoy the meaningless chat which I welcome as light relief from the boredom of frying myself on deck. He offers me a cigarette and declares with a cheeky flash of a smile that I’m ‘Too much red’.
It’s been a long day and the sky is a water colourists canvas, pink and amber swirls drench the powder blue sky. The light is fading fast, the boat creeks as if breathing in to fit between the sandstone boulders of the Harbor walls. Once my flip flops are on dry land, a gust of retrospect is carried on the cooling breeze and I feel like I have had a good day after all. Nicola is truly exhilarated by her diving experience and her warm glow is positively contagious. I am revived by the thought of the hot shower and vodka and Ice that awaits me back at the Hotel. So when three of the crew approach us and offer us a lift back, we jump at the chance. A Dutch couple also hop on board this Rusty, seen better days SUV. I’m sure they soon regret their decision as they too have to endure reckless show off driving to the tune of booming Turkish-Rap. If the music hadn’t been so loud we wouldn’t need the smell of burning rubber to affirm that yep, we were flouting all the traffic laws. Because we’d be able to hear the wheels screeching as every bend was approached like a scene from the Transporter. Our heads practically snap out of our neck sockets when the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop. The Dutch couple do their upmost to recover themselves and their belongings which have been strewn around the floor and get out. The boys waste no time and as soon as the couple slam the door shut we’re invited to party with them later that evening. I don’t know what possessed us – probably a mild case of sunstroke alas sufficient brain fog to accept an invitation to party with a group of unshaven local Boat Bandits.
That evening we went a bit O.T.T shall we say, with our pre celebratory we’re going to wash those ‘twats back home’ out of our hair drinks. And before we knew it we had just ten minutes to reapply our crimson lipstick, the remains of which tinted the rims of the empty glasses that lined the hotel balcony – and hot heel it to the Boat. In our mad dash to get to the Harbor our egos were inflated each and every drunkard step of the way. From the Hotel Waiters telling us how beautiful we were, to the tall dark and sometimes slimy strangers in the street yelling out compliments from back street kebab houses. Even the aged taxi driver turned up his stereo, an ear bleeding assault of Euro Trash – all in appreciation of our, you guessed it, beauty. I can tell you it wasn’t just the drink that went straight to our heads that night. And no sooner had Nicola placed one leopard print heel onto the pavement a random tourist with a keen eye for wildlife hit the brakes on his scooter. We didn’t think twice before jumping on, but just as he revved his engine a Turkish Cop pulled up angrily telling us to disembark. My Friend not understanding a word assumed he was just another admirer and proceeded clumsily to climb on the back of his Motorbike. Evidently to her a man in uniform was like a red rag to a Bull. I desperately shouted at her ‘He’s a Policeman, get off, get off!’ until at last she translated the anger on his face. We ran away not daring to look behind us, still laughing as we approached the Boat.
‘Do you think tight rope walkers have a drink before they make the journey across Niagara?
‘No of course they fucking don’t!’
‘Well do you reckon it’s a good idea for us to walk across this little plank when we’re out of our skulls, wearing heels?’
‘This is the right boat isn’t it?’
‘Yeah look, there they are’
We both shouted in unison ‘Hellooo, Sailor!’
The music pulsated from the surrounding clubs reverberating from Timber board to sail. Was it the Ocean, the Boat or my head that swayed to the beat of The Whips ‘Trash’? I was about to reach for the Absolute when my friends ‘Hot Turk’ stretched out his arm with the discretion of a teenage boy in a cinema. As he started to stroke the back of my neck I was thinking to myself that I wasn’t about to brake that sacred code of friendship by getting it on with him. Meanwhile it was during that very moment of contemplation that I had missed my friend getting stuck into another Boy. So that conundrum was settled then. But as he led me below deck I had another, Do I or don’t I? Oh God. Why is it that a broken heart and romantic advances whilst on holiday equate to an ordinarily good girl turning bad?
The rest of the week was spent day and night with our new ‘Boyfriends’. I must admit there is nothing more fun than a holiday romance, where you both have dates for the week. It was fucking fantastic. The days were spent on the dive boat which involved me sunning myself whilst my friend became a very proficient ‘free’ Diver. One morning we actually went to thank the Captain for his generosity, but the guys, panic stricken asked us ‘why?’ – yes quite. Or rather ‘Thank god we didn’t thank him!’ we said to each other after it was revealed that their boss thought we’d been paying for the pleasure all week.
I guess replacing our night time uniform of revealing attire for wetsuits during the day ended up as the perfect disguise for any aspiring sex tourist. One day after a particularly heavy night and in a desperate bid to cure my hangover I actually went for a dip in the open water with my friend. She was about to call her fella to come and join us but she had a sudden and hilarious mental block – she completely forgot his name. And she wasn’t the only one, neither of us could pronounce our guys names. I kept thinking of Mufasa from the Lion King instead of Mustafa from Turkey. And Mehmet whilst hardly a tongue twister seemed equally as alien to my friend although it turns out it’s as common as James is in England. The Hilarity of it all, of us, of this disgusting hangover and the funny events of this holiday so far seemed to culminate in a dangerous fit of hysterics which rendered us totally incapable of swimming. Eventually we had to force ourselves to stop laughing and drowning by swimming away from each other. My friend climbed back on board to get ready for another dive, whilst I stayed in the water which was having a miraculous effect on my hangover. Idly bobbing about I suddenly sensed I was in some kind of mortal danger. Turning around I discovered to my horror that my very own water baby was swimming towards me at considerable speed. Oh shit. He may as well have been a Great White for the fear that he invoked. I knew it was coming and in a boyish flirtation he plunged my head deep under the water. The look I gave as my head finally broke the surface settled any doubts he had about my fear of the Sea. As we swam back to the boat he took my hand in his, an unexpected act of tenderness which erased all memory of my near death experience. That evening the four of us stroll hand in hand along the Harbor promenade flanked by boats in varying states of decay. The stars shine bright in the sky and in the eyes of pre club drinkers. There is a distinct buzz in this Turkish beach city where everyday is the weekend. Mustafa leads us onto possibly the most unappealing boat of them all. It seems deserted until a dark figure is illuminated in the doorway of the cabin as he lights a cigarette. Mustafa informs us that this man is very important, he doesn’t elaborate with pleasantries like this Ahmed or whatever but instead he whispers in my ear ‘Mafia’. I inspect this underwhelming wiry man who’s head is cricked at an angle as his height battles the low slung beams of the ceiling. I don’t know what I expected from my first encounter with a genuine Mafiosa, but this man isn’t exactly it. I’m not sure if Nicola is in on the gig, whether Mehmet has whispered in her ear as well. But when she slings her body onto the plastic covered foamed seating area with her legs slack on the little wooden table. Mustafa tells her to sit up. ‘It’s respect you know’ he says sheepishly prompting Nicola to re arrange herself in a labored fashion. Whilst I just can’t take my eyes off this supposed Mafia don. He catches me staring, smiles and leans forward cigarettes splayed, I take one and immediately Mustafa and Mehmet fumble in their pockets for a light. Out of ‘respect’ I let Mafia man hit me up. The guys chat in Turkish for what seems like forever then there is a momentary reprieve as Mafia man disappears below deck and arrives seconds later ‘Do you like Art?’ Wow I think, he’s got a treasure trove of stolen masterpieces. What he then presents is more bubble and squeak then ‘Bacon’ as he proudly displays an unframed street artist’s sketch. It’s basically a shockingly scrawled – ‘Portrait’ which is more unflattering then the real McCoy which stands in front of me, and that’s saying something. Of course the artwork is met with a chorus of put on ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhss’ which seems to satisfy Mafia man. And then everyone stands as business is wrapped up with a kiss from Mustafa on Mafia mans fist, which is then raised to touch Mustafas balmy forehead. They then slap each other fondly on the back, I notice that Mehmet is given the cold shoulder at this point and I feel a little sorry for him.
We were only there for seven nights, yet the week was packed with amusing anecdotes. Although the story of the exploding Terrapin made me laugh at the bar, it was when Mustafa asked me if I was Christ that I developed a uni brow from concentrating so hard on his question ‘Am I Christ? – Sorry what did you just say?’
Until of course I finally twigged that he was actually asking me if I was a Christian. I casually replied ‘I’m not sure what I believe in really’. He then proceeded to tell me with typical dead pan delivery that I was therefore ‘Godless’. The last night of the Holiday we spent separately with our respective men. Despite us being intelligent and aspiring women we had become totally caught up in the fast forward kind of love that only a holiday fling can present. When my ‘boyfriend’ declared that he was in love with me my instant reaction was to laugh him down. His pride, rudely dented he decided to punish me with silence. Ignoring me for an agonising two hours, he just sat there in the dark, chain smoking his way through a packet of Winston Reds.
Perhaps his silence was a premeditated act? As by the time the first call to prayer of the day began its eerie call my heart had finally succumbed and the ice queen that was had melted away. That morning I faced yet another awkward walk of shame. You know the kind where everything becomes clear in the unforgiving light of day. You wonder how you will make it back to the Hotel in your stilettos without the crutch of alcohol you obviously relied on the night before. I did my best not to scare small children on their way to school hanging my head low to avoid any ‘Mascara stained Junkie’ eye contact with disapproving Turkish Mothers. And as for That LBD, well frankly it never works from day to night – so it ain’t going to cut it from night to day in my case. At last, the Hotel was in my sights and a long kiss goodbye later I left my Turkish boyfriend standing limply on the street corner. I couldn’t help but turn and look at him again before I entered the Lobby. Oh look at him. Shit he does like me; he looks like he’s just been told he has to start his Army service this afternoon. Despite my blistered heels and splitting head I raced up stairs to our room dying to know what had happened with my best friend and her Beau. She’d also had a very romantic time on the beach; she was looking at the stars whilst in typical fashion he was trying to unhook her Bra. She admitted it was a little trying at times. Especially when he insisted that she must not sleep at all on their last night together as he would ‘miss her’. I wasn’t surprised to hear that her heart had not surrendered. I knew my friend and she was way too cool to let a holiday fling get under her skin. So when I asked if I could use her phone to call Mustafa, to admit that I also loved him she lambasted me with a disapproving ‘Oh god, how sad’. I admit I felt like a ridiculed adolescent. But I was irrational. We only had an hour until our transfer and with the recurring thought of what if he really is the ‘one’ doing the rounds in my head I swallowed my pride, and insisted that I call him. I told him that I loved him to which he replied ‘Really?’ I shuddered with a cringe that I swear made my scalp flinch as I saw my best friend glaring at me. I replied ‘Yes really’ Nicola rolled her eyes. I admit now perhaps not really, but what a week I had had, so for that yes, I did love him. We made our way towards Reception to collect our Passports and tickets from the safety deposit box. This is when Nicola realised that not only did she drop her knickers on the beach but the key as well. Panic and tears ensued but two hours of holding up the coach and a locksmith later we were finally on our way back to London.
What a difference a week can make, what an indelible impression that week had left behind in its wake. Well, it was harder than any stain I have ever tried to get off my cream carpet. I mean why did I buy that carpet and why did I let myself get so attached to some boy who’s from a culture 10000 light years away?
Back home, I wasn’t the only one suffering from MSN fatigue. Even my uber cool counterpart with her emotionally sophisticated heart had finally become victim to the Holiday Romance. The spell had well and truly been cast and we were fucked from there on in. We spent every night either on the phone or staring into a web cam, exchanging sweet nothings which in our previous incarnations would have turned our stomachs. I was obsessed and so was my friend. All we talked about was Turkey this, Turkey that. Mustafa did this. Mehmet did that. You get the picture. Relentless, we showed no self preserving restraint even when it came to work colleagues, friends, family, hell even strangers in bars. We were in Love and we didn’t care. We both shared this desperate feeling that if we stopped talking about them and the Holiday, then the magic would evaporate in a mist of memories. And we weren’t about to let that happen. Just like the 53% of tourists in Britain who return from holiday and try too extend that fling – we were on a mission. There’s still a major snobbery about the Holiday Romance though. People delight in telling you horror stories and sniggering behind your back, leaving a trail of whispers just loud enough for you to hear. Which mostly begin and end with ‘He’s only after her Passport’
© AJK 2010