The best part of my stay in Antalya was what happened after I left.
On the day I left Antalya, I met my illusive Airbnb host Dumlu, a nameless taxi-driving birthday buddy, and gained valuable information about another place where I might lead retreats.
I packed and cleaned my room and said a final goodbye to my home-for-a-week. I decided to hand deliver the apartment and room keys to Ferhat and dropped the keys into my pocket. I carried too many too heavy luggage down the three flights of stairs to the street, across a side street and backyards, to Gözde Rent-a-Car.
In addition to renting Airbnb rooms and running a restaurant, Gözde Rent-a-Car seemed to be a family-run business. It was here that I had first met Ferhat. It was here that I had greeted whoever was working, twice every day, before going out to explore Antalya and after coming back from where I had wandered.
The others working at Gözde Rent-a-Car may have been Ferhat's brothers. I do not know. Whoever they were, they had become co-hosts, unlocking my door for me when I could not, which was every day. As with the apartment in Istanbul, I could not, no matter how many times people showed me how to, open the door to my room.
As with Ferhat, none of the brothers spoke any English. Once, Ferhat's (and his brothers') mother was there. I sat with her. I tried using Google translator but, no matter what language I tried, she did not understand. At one point, Ferhat came over and wrote on his Google translator app, "She does not understand. She is illiterate."
Every day, Ferhat was working. He would be full-body-deep vacuuming inside a car or outside a car hosing it down. That morning, Ferhat was not working. He was not there. One of the ten brothers (?), was full-body inside a car, vacuuming. Another was outside a car, hosing it down. Two others were sitting in chairs smoking. I looked at one of the men. I had a feeling.
I set down my too many too heavy bags on a dry spot. "Are you Dumlu," I asked the smoking man. "I am Dumlu," he said. Like his other brothers, Dumlu did not speak English. I used the Google translator app on my phone to express that I was sorry we had not met. He used his phone app to say that his brother was in charge of hosting. I typed "It's good to meet you now." He smiled. He asked if I was leaving, glancing over at my luggage, and asked if I needed him to call me a taxi. "Yes, I am checking out today," I told him, and, "I've already called a taxi. Thank you for offering." Later, in my Airbnb guest review he wrote: "Nice lady."
Come to find out, my taxi driver and I were born the same year, separated by two weeks. By the time we arrived at the airport, with no common language and a bit of help from Ms. Google's translator app, we were hugging buddies. By the time we arrived at the airport, I also realized I still had the keys to the Airbnb room I had just left in my pocket. Luckily, my birthday buddy and Dumlu worked out a plan over the phone.
I deeply appreciate smart phones and kind people.
On the plane, I sat in the last row with one other passenger. Of course it was Bongers that brought us together. Ozden is Turkish, speaks Turkish and English, and lives in Istanbul. We soon found common ground: energy. I have studied and practiced energy medicine and metaphysics. He has studied and practiced controlling his body with his mind. As part of his practice, Ozden walks on broken glass and fire.
"Were you in Olympus," Ozden asked. "No," I replied, "Should I have been?" "That is where the energy-workers go for retreats," he said. "Ooohhh," I replied.
On Turkish Airlines...
By the time our plane arrived at IST, Ozden had offered me a ride to meet up with Gökhan and Ece (pronounced "AJ"). Turns out they lived very close to each other.
There were five of us in the car. I squeezed into the middle of the backseat. Ozden sat on my left. Driving was Ozden's girlfriend. She became our interpreter.
Along with other languages, Ozden's girlfriend understood and spoke Turkish, English, French, and German. This was helpful because Ozden spoke only Turkish and English. I spoke only English. In the backseat, on my right, was a French woman who spoke only French. In the front passenger seat was a German woman who spoke only German and French.
As we drove, Ozden told his girlfriend I work with energy. She asked me what I do for work. "I was an integrated healer, a counselor, and a life coach. Now I want to lead retreats," I told her. I added, "I work with grief and grieving." She jumped in her seat, kind of squealed, and whacked the front seat passenger.
It turns out, the German woman has been struggling with grief around her mother's death. The three women had been talking about this before arriving at the airport to pick up Ozden and me. The German woman had just concluded that she needs help.
I will not talk about the details of our little United Nations grief session in the car. I will say that it was right. Right place, right time, right people. And what I realized from the experience (once again) is this...
We are each a gift. If someone unwraps the gift and accepts it, "the gift" feels fulfilled.
I felt fulfilled.
I did not feel fulfilled in Antalya. I did not feel "alive" until the grief session in the car. I do not enjoy being a tourist. I do not enjoy traveling for traveling's sake. I am not fulfilled being on vacation. I am fulfilled being the gift I am and meeting those who will unwrap and appreciate me.
I did need to rest. It was good to relax with Gökhan and Ece. Gökhan makes amazing sourdough bread and owns and runs a bakery just a couple of blocks up the the street. He plans to change careers and move south. For now, he spends the first part of each day at the bakery. Ece is in school for business and law and plans to specialize in helping immigrants obtain visas. They have three very little, very soft and cuddly, white dogs. One was born with brain damage and can not go outside.
Ece made an amazing dinner for the three of us, and a huge Turkish breakfast the next day for the two of us. In the evening, after eating and talking, we cuddled with the dogs on the couch and watched a movie. The next day, we talked, walked (with the two dogs), and hung out at the bakery with Gökhan. In the afternoon, when my taxi came for me, it felt like I was leaving very good friends. Gökhan sent me away with three large loaves of freshly baked sourdough bread so, I did bring something of them with me.
So, my last night and last day in Turkey were spent relaxing with my two friends (and their three little doggie-children). It was perfect.