It’s time for a new season of interviews where we ask expats just why they live where they do. First up is Dallas Dyson, a writer and animal lover who divides her life between a village in scenic Devon and Altinkum, or Tinky Town as the resort part of Didim is also known to expats and tourist visitors.
I’m sure you’ve never heard this before: where are you from?
I’m from a small village called Yealmpton in the glorious Westcountry of England.
And what did you do there, then?
Originally I worked as an engineering consultant but downsizing left me redundant and wondering if that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life so I went to stack shelves in a supermarket for a while whilst I decided what I wanted to do.
Dallas isn’t your real name, is it?
My real name is Debbie although I was nick-named Dallas at school when a classmate discovered his brother’s illicit stash of dubious movies.
How did you end up in Altinkum?
Quite simply I broke up with my childhood sweetheart a few weeks before the big day, went to our honeymoon destination of Altinkum with a friend and met a man and the rest they say is history.
Have you lived abroad before?
Never, have lived in my childhood village for most of my life.
So what’s so good about Altinkum?
Obviously the climate, love the hot weather and the amazing thunderstorms. Turkish hospitality and food is some of the best in the world. I just love the culture and the history, the al fresco lifestyle and when I used to get up at 7am each day and swim in the warm Aegean with these tiny fish swimming around me, I counted this as one of my many blessings.
And what don’t you like?
Being a life-long animal lover the hardest thing is the street dog/cat situation where they’re constantly discarded by expats and Turks alike and left to fend for themselves facing a very short lifetime of cruelty and hunger. The council run Didim Dog Shelter operates a neuter and release scheme with few facilities and inadequate vet care, however the volunteers at the local Shelters do sterling work.
Do you feel like an insider or outsider?
I will always feel an outsider in Altinkum as I’m very much still an expat but I like the anonymity which is something I don’t get in the village where I’ve grown up where literally everyone knows everything about you; even the bits you’d much rather they didn’t remember.
How do you support yourself?
I write and fortunately I was able to do some work for my old company back in England as my job was mainly internet based.
You also combine writing with stacking shelves?
I’ve always been a keen writer (was even mentored by a successful BBC executive a few years’ ago) and prided myself on being able to see the funny in each situation but when I moved to Turkey I spent hours sitting in the in-law’s dusty corner shop helping out (once a shelf stacker!) so I started writing stories for my blog about my life in Turkey and about village life back home, thinking just my Mum would read it. It got picked up by the local Voices expat newspaper and I’ve just carried on writing and hope one day to pen a novel about my adventures. The people I meet day to day inspire me and as I haven’t yet been chased out of Tinky Town or our Devon village by a pitchfork wielding mob I don’t think I’ve offended anyone.
Any advice for wannabe Tinkeys (I’m sure this is wrong. What do you call yourselves?)
I love the term Tinkys, one of my fellow bloggers calls me Tink! I think it would be to ensure that you have a guaranteed form of income before relocating as its unlikely you would be able to get work within Turkey.
Is the move permanent?
I like having one foot in both places although which I know won’t work for most but I like the variety and I like to roll with whatever life throws my way. I enjoy writing whether that’s blogging, putting finishing touches to a manuscript or guest writing for the local newspaper http://2014.voicesnewspaper.com or stories for an animal welfare magazine.
Finally, tell us about something typically Altinkum?
Well Altinkum is called Tinky Town by most holidaymakers and expats alike. And nearby Maveshir has the best sunsets in all Turkey and Altinkum is one of the best holiday destinations on the Aegean coast with great markets, the Temple of Apollo and great beaches in fact Altinkum means golden sands.