Since coming to Turkey, we’ve heard at least three really awful stories of real estate transactions gone bad. In each case, these tales of being rooked have involved foreigners (even those married to Turks) attempting to buy property from Turks who see the outsiders as open wallets rather than warm hearts who have fallen in love with the country.
In the next series of posts, I will be sharing the story of Vicky, a lovely expatriate here in Cappadocia who found my blog some months back and befriended me. Vicky and her partner, Mr. P, have been engaged in a years’ long process of trying to right their lives after being taken. Recently, Vicky started posting an account of their story to a forum for expats in Turkey; I found myself riveted and asked if I could repost here. She graciously gave her permission for me to share their cautionary cultural lesson.
In 2007 I was stuck in a rut in a nicely paid but stressful job working for a huge American company in France. On the outside things looked good – good pay, stock options, company car, etc. On the inside I was bored, stressed and fed up with EBITA, ROI and quarterly earning reports – money is not everything. To cut a long story short I threw in the job, we sold the house, sold off all of our belongings which wouldn’t fit in the car, stuffed everythng into my partner’s old Xantia, the dog on top and we set off for a new life in Turkey! My parents were appalled and bewildered when I announced that we had bought an old cave house in Cappadocia and were moving to open a guesthouse (I think they still haven’t come to terms with it yet and I do admit it was a wild move but sometimes you have to throw caution to the winds and take risks. And sometimes you get burnt as we found out! But heck, life is short).
We set off for our 5 day drive down through France and Italy to take the ferry at Brindisi to Cesme, then a stop at Ankara and down to Urgup. Having fond memories of driving through Spain in our little Punto with my husband singing all the way in spite of geting lost, no air conditionning and no idea where we would sleep for the the night, I somehow thought it would be the same.
I had not quite registered that my new partner (henceforth to be referred to as Mr P) was not the same person. We had been thrown together but he was anguished, paranoid, worried and irritable (Turkey has since done a great deal of good!). So he had insisted on repairing the air-conditioning in his 23 year-old car although I thought it was pointless since we knew we would have to give up the car to the customs 6 months after entering Turkey. Mr P stuck it out that he would not drive through France and Italy in July without A/C and the clinching point was what about my dog, how would he manage? So 1000 EUR was paid to the garage round the corner and we set off.
Needless to say the A/C stopped working around 100 km from our home town in France!
From that point onwards there was certainly no singing, just muttered comments about how Mr P would wring the neck of the garagiste, how hot it was, how bad the roads were etc. In fact he was also worried though he didn’t say so at the time that the Xantia would not make it all the way there – the water guauge would get into the red every time we went up a hill.
I was also feeling guilty about putting my dog through all of this and stressed at the idea that the rabies jab had to be valid 5 days before entering Turkey. He’d got his jab on 16th July, we left on the 17th and the ferry was booked for 21st. The ferry was only on Wednesdays and Saturdays so if we missed the ferry we would have to find a vet in Italy to do another jab.
Needless to say this meant a journey full of Mr P going on and on about the lack of A/C, sullen moments or suddenly his lashing out at me for things like traffic jams or bad roads. I was miserable.
Bref (as we say in France) not a happy journey and I was beginning to think that I had not chosen the right travel companion…
(to be continued)