Okay. Without wanting to sound macabre, this blog post is going to be about being on my own. It’s not one massive sulk, so you can all just put away your eye rolling and miniature violins. I’m in a self-inflicted solitary confinement over here, so I’ve had plenty of time to think this through.
STAGE ONE: MAKING FRIENDS
The first step of being alone whilst on your travels is this strange sense of overconfidence when it comes to strangers. All of a sudden, I’m this social butterfly, befriending people from all over the world with my charm and boundless self-assurance. I don’t know how it happened. It just did.
|Touring Blue Bays of Fethiye|
I went on a boat day trip thing the other day, and the relaxed atmosphere and gorgeous settings led me to casually striking up conversation with complete strangers. Dasha, the Ukranian schoolgirl, impressed me with her English and we chatted about school and university. On hearing an English accent while taking a boatside dip in the sea, I swam right up to a couple from Essex. I’m now welcome to visit them if I ever find myself in the part of Fethiye they have a B&B in, which is nice. I also braved speaking a little Mandarin to a Chinese family- which considering the last time I spoke Chinese I burst into tears, can only have been down to a surge of misplaced confidence. They more or less understood what I was trying to say, but their English skills far outshone my Chinese ones, so I was spared the mortification of singlehandedly ruining the beauty of a language. The day was a success, and I can now safely archive this unlikely bunch into the group “Met On Holiday” and move on. Woo!
|Only just managing to stay upright in Saklikent Gorge.|
STAGE TWO: GETTING BORED/LONELY
In trying to recreate my sudden surge of social ability, I went on another day trip. Well, that’s not exactly the reason. Saklikent Gorge is mindblowing- and warrants a day trip regardless of whether there’s any likelihood of making new mates or not. Whatever. My friend-making skills were scaled down to zero, as no one spoke any English. In fact, I felt very conscious that I was the only person in a group of twelve who never had the faintest idea of what was going on- how long the journey would take, the price of entry, how to not fall and die in the gorge. It would have been pretty maddening, but instead, it just got boring. Not speaking to anyone frustrated me. I became sulky in the evening, having not uttered a single phrase other than “sorry, I’m English” all day. I’d read all of my books, the wifi connection was failing me, I didn’t feel like going to a bar where I wouldn’t know anyone and have to sit on my own. So I frowned all night instead.
I’m my own worst enemy when I get like this. Nothing anyone says can swing me out of a grump like this one. But that was irrelevant. No one was saying anything much to me at all, nevermind trying to lift my lonely spirits. So I moped around my hotel room and bitched at my friends when the wifi connection lasted long enough for me to send a facebook message (sorry, friends). I was lonely and bored and I wanted to watch fucking Coronation Street already. Moodily, I went to bed for lack of better things to do.
STAGE THREE: EMBRACING THE LONELINESS
After a good telling off via email from a few friends, I decided to shut up whinging and make the most of having some time to myself. How often do you get an entire week, unimpeded by any responsibilities, unmarked by any urgencies, to do exactly what you want with? And considering how rare this week is, what better place to do it than on the edge of the Mediterranean coast? So I packed myself a little bag of pens, books, notepads and my iPod, and marched out to the dolmus station.
I spent the day writing. And I mean the entire day. I wrote things I’d intended on publishing for The Yorker, I wrote reviews of the places I’d been, I wrote things I wouldn’t dream of publishing on here for fear of people actually reading them. The bemused waiter asked me if it was my diary. “Sort of“, I replied, flashing a quick smile and accepting my third refill of fresh orange juice. The orange juice glasses got increasingly decorative and elaborate as my time in the cafe went on. The first glass had been simple, ice, straw, drink. By the time I left, I was getting flashing straws, umbrellas, slices of exotic fruit wedged onto the glass, fireworks. I like to think they were playing a game of “How-much-shit-can-we-put-on-her-glass-before-she-looks-up-from-her-notepad”. They were probably just trying to increase the chances of a tip, but a girl can imagine.
Pen running out of ink, and myself running out of writing-steam, I popped on a water taxi back home and went for another walk along the harbour. I sat and idly watched the sun set over the bay with some fishermen, meandered back to the hotel, and had a long shower. Today’s been good. This is the kind of solitary confinement I could get used to.
|Sighh. I guess I can go without speaing English for a day if this is what the evening looks like.|
I find ideas come to me far more easily when I’m alone, somewhere pretty and when there’s juice on tap. Although for me, it has to be of the berry variety. Think you were really brave to do this trip. Glad you’re getting so much out of it.