The last couple of weeks have been very busy, I have been working hard and eagerly anticipating the arrival of both Michelle and Sam. I am once again living out of garbage bags as my new roomie Lucy had some mysterious itching which later turned out to be a rash which was secondary to the tonsillitis that she had, nevertheless we got the bed bug guy in to do his thing and now the room looks like someone’s halfway through a burglary. Lucy’s also developed a penchant for Dettol to help soothe her rash so our room also smells like a sick bay. We are also woken up most mornings to the sound of drilling and banging as our neighbors have decided to renovate and the walls are paper-thin. Some mornings I feel as though they are drilling right next to my skull and just hours later are completely quiet which makes me wonder why on earth can’t they do the quiet stuff at 7am and the noisy stuff around 10? I mean come on already!
Luckily I not only had work to keep me from counting down the days til my impending holiday but I have this feature film that I am volunteering on. After a promising meeting with the director where it was decided that I would assist him I was quickly on my way to putting together the ever-changing crew list and callsheets and emailing makeup artists, camera crew and the like verifying contact details and asking thousands of questions to the Producers who were leaking information through to me bit by bit while I tried to make sense of all the email’s darting around. Putting together production documents based on places I’d never visited in London with names of people whom I’d never met for a film I had only read 5 pages of. That first week was tricky – so it was a relief to show up on the first shoot day merely as a runner. The first scene of the film was to be shot in a gorgeous little apartment in leafy green Archway in North London. It wasn’t the easiest place to find and I got lost which is embarrassing seeing as I wrote the crew call sheet. Luckily I soon found out that I was an hour early (no one had actually told me my call time) so I ended up helping the set dressers prepare the room – which basically involved me helping them decide which shaped fairy lights could go in what room. And when the rest of the producers showed up half an hour late I knew that this wasn’t going to be any ordinary shoot and perhaps one of those occasions where I would learn much more when things go wrong. There have been many variables as to why this shoot is proving to more shambolic than most – personal issues surrounding the Director, lack of budget/time. The Producers though – bless them are such good-humored people and are volunteering their time and energy outside their already demanding jobs to do this for a friend. The directors own mother is even providing catering filling Tupperware containers with copious amounts of home cooked casserole to keep costs down. And I feel that I have been welcomed with open arms and that I am apart of a team again and that is such a fantastic feeling. To be needed. Even if it’s just to handle a massive coffee/tea order trying to drive up the hill in Meera’s tiny Fiat holding our breath desperately trying not to spill everything. Or weighing up the options between Supreme, Texas barbecue and Vegetarian pizzas for lunch. Or standing out in the cold dark street in the bushes minding the kit while they shoot an outdoor scene.
And then in the middle of all that magically Michelle was in the country, even better she was in the same city, but I had to focus on work and the weekend before we were due to leave for Turkey I worked the Saturday night until 2am and it was decided as we had an early flight on the Sunday that I was to organize a transfer early that morning straight from work rather than go all the way home first. So finally closing time arrived and not a minute early as we found that particular morning we were practically beating off the drunks from the store with a stick. I put my backpack on and headed for the bus stop just narrowly missing a pile of puke on the night bus, I was dog tired but felt sick with excitement at the thought of being reunited with my old friend. After a late pick up from Earls Court I found myself at Gatwick airport hours before we were due to leave, lining up with all the bright orange Brits and their families preparing for a holiday in a warmer climate. Even though I was miles too early I kept ‘seeing’ Michelle everywhere. Just as I had been seeing her on the streets of London since she announced she had arrived in the city. After getting through security and noticing our gate hadn’t been called yet I sat on the other side of security waiting for Michelle to make her entrance. I closed my eyes briefly the tiredness starting to kick in now that I had finally stopped running around everywhere. And then finally I received a call from her asking where I was before we both realized that we were staring at the same Boots (Chemists). We locked eyes and a squeal was let out and we ran into each other’s arms much to the surprise of those around us and squeezed each other and jumped up and down like Price is Right contestants. What followed was a frantic run to the gates when Easyjet decided to announce our gates right at the last minute, a four hour groggy flight where I fell asleep and Michelle took awful photo’s of me. And then we arrived and I realized before they would even let us into the country that we had to pay for a visa. Minor panic attack when I left my passport in the loo (Why do I keep doing that in airport toilets?) Then we were on the shuttle transfer to the hotel. I think geographically it was meant to be an hour and a half ride but took probably about two and a half hours. The countryside we drove through seemed quite remote, houses dotted the mountains with the occasional small abandoned looking village.
The temperature was moderate, the sky clear blue and the occasional glimpse we had of the sea was a beautiful one. To be honest there wasn’t a whole lot to see on the journey, what I do remember most is the English top 40 music the driver played and the tourist sitting in front of us who had a face like a cats arse despite being dropped off at a much nicer hotel than ours. The tourist season was over it seemed and all that remained were remnants of a busy summer season, but that didn’t bother us. As we drove through neighboring town Didim there were thousands of construction sites and half built apartments and houses everywhere and empty dusty fields filled with bits of scrap metal bricks and mortar with workers nowhere to be seen.
We were tired and the roads were bumpy and long and we were getting desperate to get off the bus, with the circles that the shuttle seemed to be doing it felt almost as if the driver didn’t know where he was going. We finally made it late afternoon, and realized that where we were staying was quite remote. The outside of the resort Michelle remarked looked a little bit like a Disney building and the blue and white color scheme carried throughout the hotel. The language barriers started in reception where we would ask a question and either get a blank look or an unrelated answer. At times I was translating English to Michelle who couldn’t quite place their strong accents. But not wanting to be typical Aussie/British tourists abroad we embraced the situation as much as possible and quickly found food and sat and had a few drinks by the pool. Mehmet or ‘Al pacino’ as he named himself was the Spa manager at the hotel soon made himself known, trying to sell us spa packages they had on offer. As the sun set on our first evening we heard the call to prayer echo across the land eerie yet peaceful and with that we knew we weren’t in Kansas anymore.
At dinner we sat outside – not realizing that it got quite cool in Turkey in the evening this time of year and we soon had waiters coming outside introducing themselves to us and asking us the same questions in broken English. One made us a rose out of a napkin, and another brought out a cocktail and we kind of laughed it off thinking this was probably something they do to all girls that stay here.
The following day we were awoken by the roosters crowing in the farm next door, we had a breakfast which consisted of pancakes, lovely fresh gozleme’s savoury doughnuts, salads and coffee out of a machine that sadly tasted miles better than any coffee I’ve had in the UK. Then we sun-baked on lounges by the beach with an Efes beer in hand and all seemed fine until I brushed off what I thought was a fly and quickly realized I had been stung by a wasp. Remembering what Michelle had said about the hornets in Hong Kong being deadly I started to panic not sure if I was allergic or not. All the Turkish men on the beach were there and I’m trying to explain what has happened. ‘Bzzz, Bzzz’ I said pointing to my leg, someone managed to say in broken english ‘Put a tampon on it’, I took this to mean something cold so I rested my beer against it and seeing that there was another wasp circling decided it was time to go inside and inspect the swelling bite. After it didn’t appear to be getting any worse and we had decided that if I was going to go into anaphylactic shock I would have by now so we moved to the pool side and I put my leg up.
That evening we took the shuttle into the nearby town of Altinkum in search of some real Turkish fare, just in time to see the beautiful sunset and the onslaught of restauranteurs on the strip harassing us to sit down for a bite to eat. Including one who introduced himself, before saying we could call him Ross – Michelle and I looked at each other for a moment before realizing he bore a slight resemblance to Ross from friends. Obviously these guys were used to catering for an English audience. Another reminder that we were in a popular British tourist spot was the real lack of Turkish food in the restaurants. They had fish and chips, curries even hot dogs. We ended up sitting in a particularly touristy cafe by the water the ‘Toy Story’ cafe simply because the waiter didn’t harass us the moment we looked at the menu. Quite a few cliquey (as we soon found out) English expats were sitting in the front having a smoke. We watched the sun go down and listened to the hits from the 80’s including classics by Michael Bolton. Stray dogs tried to approach our table, one tried to gnaw the cane in my chair before being shooed off by one of the restaurant owners and we fell in love with an adorable fat squat of a dog who had this real sooky look on her face and I playfully nicknamed Julia Roberts as an animal ‘Lookalike’ Before strolling along the promenade to a fair on the hill aptly named Luna Park where the operators who were talking in a group quickly dispersed when they saw us coming which reminded me of my old work! And sideshow games that had really random prizes like a toaster and a milkshake maker.