Grandpa for the day

Tombs carved in the rockface above Fethiye, a major reason I came here.

Tombs carved in the rockface above Fethiye, a major reason I came here.

When we got to Aydin, the driver of the dolmuş shuttle bus gestured me to go with an older Turkish man who was also headed to Fethiye, and could show me where to buy a ticket.

The older guy didn’t look quite sure what to do with the American stray who had suddenly been dropped in his lap. We established that I speak no Turkish, then when he tried German I answered in Dutch and we agreed, with much hand gesturing, that the two languages are similar.

The ticket seller asked my temporary Grandpa’s name, but didn’t feel like trying a foreign one so issued side-by-side tickets to Mehmet, meaning technically I couldn’t get on without him. My Turkey-gramps was not yet done with me, I guess.

We stood in the bus station for about an hour, surrounded by clouds of cigarette smoke from the bus company men. The vendors smoked with one hand while they passed bread with the other. Passengers, men and women, stood by their bags and sucked in nicotine. Adolescent boys held cigarettes between lips that don’t yet require shaving. I’m pretty sure I saw a stray cat or two puffing away in the shadows.

When our bus came, my loaner Grandpa and I stood outside to keep an eye on our baggage underneath it, agreeing through gestures that it was a noddingly good idea to wait until they closed it before getting on.

Knowing "bay" means basically "Mr." is not necessary

Knowing “bay” means basically “Mr.” is not necessary

It was only a four and a half hour ride to Fethiye, but the bus companies aren’t in too much of a hurry, and we had two rest stops. Each time, Gramps and I would stand outside the bathroom (“Tuvalet”) and try to converse with GermaDutchesturing and much chuckling.

My new grampy is a thorough man, and when we arrived in Fethiye he gestured me to wait while he made a phone call, then explained “mein tochter…ah…English…hotel…du”. His daughter did indeed speak English, and she told me about a shuttle into town and where the budget hotels were clustered.

I already have families in two countries, but (with the vulnerable intensity of the solo traveler) suddenly it felt like a third.

Teşekur edirim, my Turkish grandpa!