It rained last night. A big rolling storm buffeted the house, soaked the streets and blew our mosquito net down. If you are reading this in, say, Manchester or Belfast I am sure your reaction is big freaking whoop. It rained here last night too and I’m not writing a bloody post about it.
But I haven’t seen so much as a cloud since April. And while that makes me a lucky man my good fortune is about to run out because winter is coming and winter in many ways is better spent in a cold climate like the UK. There hundreds of generations have adapted to the cold and wet and to cope they invented clever things like drainage, central heating and roaring fires in warm, friendly pubs.
In a tourist resort in Turkey things are much different. Here people react in confusion when it rains. They put supermarket plastic bags on their heads and look in awe at the strange wet stuff falling from the sky.
The rest of Turkey does winter better. Istanbul can be chilly in September and the mountainous east is no stranger to the snow. But Didim where we live is built for the summer.
The town’s population expands ten fold from May to September to accommodate domestic and foreign tourists, day trippers, Turkish holiday homeowners from Ankara and Germany, Kurdish workers from the other side of the country and Brits looking to spend a few weeks or months in their place in the sun.
The day is spent at the beach while at night balconies are alive with families conversing, drinking and eating. By winter the balcony furniture has been taken in and closed or shuttered doors signify our neighbours are either inside in front of the TV or back home in Ankara.
Unlike Britain the changing of the seasons from summer to winter isn’t marked by browning leaves pleasantly falling from trees but by the gradual progression from flip flops to shoes, bare feet to socks, shorts to trousers.
The pools are drained of sunlight sparkled swimming water and left to fill with rain water and plastic bags. As the tourists disappear the beach front winds down until only a couple of bars remain open.
Friends also disappear. In Britain the social network moves inside. Aside from a few weeks away on holiday the same faces are around all year. Here they go away. Turkish workers in the tourism sector return to their homes around Turkey to once again be with their families, not to return for six months. Part time foreign residents go back to their real homes in Liverpool, Swansea or Cork and the full timers will take an extended reverse holiday in Britain to catch up with their past lives and make a fuss of the grandkids.
It is not that the winter here is especially dreadful, it isn’t. But contrasted with summer it can seem so.
Normally we break up the winter with a trip home to see our family and friends but this year we are grounded, a result of our travels at the beginning of the year. It’s a small price to pay for that and also is the accepted annual come down after the summer high.