There are times I wish I could be a bit more like Doris Day, but that would mean her carefully manicured studio image rather than the real lady. In fact, I think after events of yesterday I am far closer to the real Doris of disappointment than of happiness and fluffy clouds.
Things did not start well yesterday. To begin with I felt an abscess developing in my mouth as toothache built up on Sunday night. Thank goodness the internet was back again so I could look up emergency pharmacies (nobetici eczaneler) and find one really close. Thank goodness the pharmacists continue to defy the rules and hand drugs over the counter that should only be given with a prescription. Anyway, M acquired the antibiotics and some mystery painkillers that are probably some brufen based thing.
Next morning, after not a very good night’s sleep, I did not feel great. We had planned a trip to the beach as it was Monday–pool filtering day. I had the drugs and paracetamol as back up so we rather lazily got our act together. I very nearly pulled out of going altogether. Not because of the abscess but because of the kids. They have a rather annoying track record of not listening to a darn word anyone says. Then they wonder why the responsible adult has been pushed over the edge and starts shouting at them. I think 5 times at increasing volumes until full ballistic mode sets in would push most people beyond. And while I am certainly not a mum who asks my children in a soft, weird, almost patronising tone of voice, to do things, I do start polite and say ‘please will you do X for me?’
Cue shouty, sulky, in pain mum, who is now the bad guy for saying she hasn’t the energy to cope with this shit and wants to stay home with her solitude and a good dose of parental guilt. It probably would have been better if I had. The next few hours involved poor decision making, arguments, threats, and a walk out.
We had been told about a beach in a place called Bogsak (Bowsak is the closest phonetic pronunciation guide I can give as once again WordPress doesn’t allow me other alphabet options to type the silent g letter). We didn’t know much about it and M thought it was a stoney beach. Our new door selling neighbours–we bought a new door, another story– assured us it was sandy. M asked nephew-in-law who confirmed sandiness but said it had no facilities and had two restaurants that only allowed you to use theirs if you bought a meal. It was past Silifkele, 100KM away and so didn’t seem a great idea to me. I thought sticking with the small beach between Koryos and Kizkalesi was simpler. Oh man oh man.
We finally got in the car, drove for about 5 KM before realising no towels, turned back, got towels, then M announces he wants fuel, so another stop. Grumpy is getting grumpier but hopes once we start again the grump will lift. It did for a bit. M agreed to go to our usual beach but had wanted to explore the new one. The tourism ministry, once again, has given a licence to a bunch of people (I shall refer to as the beach mafia). We knew this from our previous trip, but that had been late afternoon. This was midday. 10TL duly paid for parking (rip off) we head through the gate. A sense or foreboding descends when I see two enormous speakers, so this was now ‘disco beach’. I hate loud music being imposed on me. I go to a beach, or the country for peace and tranquility not for thumping bass of really crappy music. We asked about the sun loungers, 30TL. That’s about £8, so yes, a rip off. I then spied the newly constructed cafe in the corner. These guys had gone all out on their take over. In fact they had taken hints from our site and created a whole list of rules, that are in fact against the law. Their licence does not turn it into a private beach. And so the fun began.
We sat under a tree, laid out the towel and started to put up a parasol. Along comes minion 1. Oh you can’t do that here. M pulls rank, tells them he is a lawyer, knows the law and they can’t force him to pay for theirs as it’s a public beach. Grumble grumble, off the minion goes to bring back more minions. Great, a fight. This time it’s about us putting up the beach shelter for the kids. Oh you can’t put tents up here. It’s not a tent, it’s open fronted, it’s a shelter. More minions. Apparently not just the tent but the colour, colour is banned. They say this is because it’s next to a historical site and this is a rule of the tourism ministry. But that is in the terms of their licence from the ministry, it’s not a ban for the public. Oh yes it is. M pulls rank with them all, we get ALL the stares plus a lady from behind the fence joins in to support us. I walk off to the sea because the boys have run off amidst all this and I need to find them.
It’s meant to be a blue flag beach but there is crap everywhere. Last time I felt like a bin man picking bits of plastic, bottles, bags, etc out of the sea and taking them to the bin. How it has gained this status I do no know. This time though there was scum on the sea. I did not have good feelings. M came to join us by the rocks. Lai seems to have rediscovered his ridiculous confidence level and was swimming everywhere in his ring, no matter how deep. I left the scummy water and went back to the tree to read a book. Three minions and a security guard now to threaten me. Nice. A bit of shouting from me, then opting to ignore them by saying ‘talk to my husband’. After I refuse to pinpoint him for them and only say that he’s in the sea playing with the kids, they wander off.
Round 4. More heavies and a lady with a lanyard round her neck. Turns out they went to the entrance to Koryos castle next door to drag her in to represent the tourism ministry. I tell them to talk to my husband. Any attempts by her to talk to me are met with a response in English from me, and not polite. I am in pain, my face is swelling, the incessent shit music is driving me mad, and the fact that they just keep coming back to hassle us pushes me over the edge. Smelly comes out of the water, I tell him to ignore them, to get dad and tell him we are leaving. I start to pack up. M comes back with Dosh and Lai. Dosh tries to join in with the more arguing. I give him jobs, I carry on packing up while M argues some more. We’re ready to go. As we head for the car I pick the biggest guy of the beach mafia and tell him he has destroyed this place, it is not a family beach anymore.
Sadly the beach mafia are all over the country. I experienced this years ago in Oludeniz with a friend. She speaks fluent Turkish but the first time I saw her so angry and unable to speak in Turkish, was when a beach mafia guy was telling her we could not sit on the beach if we didn’t pay for a sun lounger. Or rather, that we could not move his tightly packed together sun loungers that were so close there was nowhere to sit if we didn’t. And if we couldn’t move them, we had to sit on them, and to sit on them, we had to pay.
The Tourism ministry makes money from giving licences to these people. It believes in return they get beaches being cared for. They don’t, it’s a joke. The beach mafia are there to make money and effectively turn anywhere they have a licence for into private land. That goes way beyond what their licence allows. And they are a mafia, the people who apply for the licences are connected. Foreign tourists see nothing wrong with this as it is convenient for them, it means they don’t need to bring or buy parasols or beach chairs etc. But they would soon understand if the same happened on a UK beach.
I was gutted. It’s not the best beach, it’s very close to the main road, but it’s sandy and you can walk out quite a way before it gets deep. It’s really good for the kids and not as crowded as the main Kizkalesi beach. The beach mafia have destroyed Koryos for us. Another place struck off our list.
We got in the car and M decided we should try Bogsak. It is quite a way away. Beyond where we went last year to go on the boat trip, which ended in Smelly being…well extra smelly and ill through seasickness. But it turns out to be the first stop for the boat trips, or the last. There are several bays, and one split by a river. One was surrounded by a hotel, effectively private so we past that. The next was surrounded by a campsite that charged 25TL for access. But the guy turned out to be a lovely human being who saw us consider and decided to tell us how to get in for free round the corner. A kind man not a money grabbing git. My faith in humanity started to feel a bit better.
We ended up driving in circles for a bit because his instructions were wrong. He said left after the mosque, when it was actually before. We drove past the river down to the bay but it’s mysteriously split into two–a very thin strip and then opens to a wider beach beyond, where we saw tents. How to get to the bigger bit was a mystery indeed. More pointless driving (my fault) confirmed that there was no access. People must drive along the beach and though the sea. This was confirmed when we returned and sat by the thin strip. Soon several cars past by us, determined to get to the bigger beach, no matter the damage it might inflict on their car.
I was tired, and as long as they didn’t run over the kids I was happy (ish). The sea was much cleaner it was properly turquoise, there was no pounding bass, and behind us were ramshackle caravans and huts for people who holidayed our style–simply. The restaurants were basic and not imposing. The kids could build brilliant sandcastles. We didn’t get the stares for being part foreign. There was a jetty and the boys found friends and enjoyed jumping from it. Despite my pleas not to, M dived from it. The views were lovely, a bit obscured by the huge road above on one side but basically rocks and trees down to the sparkling sea.
Perhaps I was seeing things so positively because I was tired. The drugs didn’t seem to be working that well and my face was becoming fat and lopsided. We left as the sun started to set. We had eaten salty sweetcorn, the boys had really enjoyed themselves, and I managed to read a massive chunk of my book (The House at the End of Hope Street, I heartily recommend it). The day had been saved. We will definitely return to Bogsak. But it was tinged with sadness too.
I have never asked M to pull rank, but someone has to do something about the beach mafia. They are a terrible blight on the country and too many people silently accept them.Watch out tourism ministry and beach mafia, you can try and bully us but we do stand up for ourselves.