Turkey…it’s not what you may think.

I know, I know, Catphi, long time no see. I have an answer for that. I have been living on the other side of the world for the last four years. Over here, internet is not something one can take for granted, as it comes and goes due to weather problems, government decisions, and so on. I have been busy, but I am taking a few minutes to make this post about the country Turkey. I rarely feel strongly enough to speak out against an entire country, but I do now.

Some people may go to Turkey and have a fabulous time. For others, it is not so great, and for the curious, I am in that latter group. Don’t get me wrong, the countryside is lovely. They have mountains, lakes, archaeology (much of which they don’t take care of properly), and trees. I missed trees while living in Iraq. To begin with, I found out the hard way that there are two laws in this country, one set of laws for those born in Turkey, and one set for all foreigners. Not only that, but it is my opinion that even the most average citizen in Turkey is looking to take advantage of anyone too trusting! I am not kidding….beware of taxi drivers in Istanbul! I will give you a few examples of my stay in Turkey.

Within a few days of arriving, I found an apartment. It was nice, but it was in an incomplete building. That means the company was still working on some of the apartments and putting in pipes to those unfinished parts of the building. There were other people in the 16-floor building. It was part of a set of four buildings owned by one company. In Turkey, people are allowed to rent or buy apartments, so I rented from the owner of that apartment, not from the company building the apartments, which would have been better. The owner wanted me to pay for 3 months ahead of time, plus pay for a damage fee and a finder’s fee. I heard this was normal for foreigners, so I paid.

I thought everything was going to be good, but sadly things started to go from bad to worse. The first problem was that the owner showed me the wrong apartment, and I didn’t discover this out until after I had signed the contract. In the apartment I was shown, there was a parquet floor, but in my apartment, there was only concrete. Next, there was a lack of electricity, and since it was during winter, I were very cold! At the same time, there was no water. I bought water, and was able to bring up water to use for cooking/heating on a gas burner. I asked every day when the electricity would be turned on, and when would there be water. This went on more than a month without either water or electricity. Then I found out that the man I had made a contract with was not the real owner, but simply his business partner. The Supervisor of the building company was very angry at that man, and they told him either he make a proper contract or I had to leave. He said he would make a new, correct contract. But, he asked for I pay for 6 months of rent and he kept the other money even though it had not been 3 months. He would come 2 or 3 times a week to bring different people in his family to see our apartment because I had bought a few pieces of furniture and cleaned the place as best I could in spite of the concrete being so dusty. Still, there was no water, and no electricity. I kept pestering until finally, the building company sent an electrician to give me electricity. A few weeks later, again asking each day, I had cold water on tap, but no hot. Unfortunately, the water would go off for many hours a day and sometimes it would be off for weeks at a time. I never had hot water and never knew if I would have water from one day to the next. Every day, I listened to the workers building the other parts of the building. Hammering, pipes dropping, electric saws whining loudly and every imaginable noise from construction could be heard. But, things were about to change for the worst.

I had to travel to another city to be with a friend in the hospital. I told the owner I would be gone a few days.I rode the bus 9 hours to get to the other city. It was a tiring time there. After a few days, the owner of the apartment called and told me he wanted to go into the apartment, but I reminded him I was away, but would return soon. I left that night on the bus and got home very early in the morning. I was so tired that I went to sleep immediately. I woke up once and heard what sounded like the construction people working, so I went back to sleep. It wasn’t the construction people, but I didn’t know that until the bedroom door opened and the owner said, “You are home?!”  He left after breaking and entering my apartment! I went to the police. At first, they said they would not help, but I insisted they bring the man in and talk to him. Finally, they called him and he came. He acted like he knew nothing until I reminded him. He was really angry and said he would sell the apartment and that I had to leave. The police told me it was our own fault for not telling the owner I was home that morning. When I asked if they would press charges against him, they laughed and said they would not help any more. While I was there, I asked an officer to translate the conversations into English. He said he didn’t want to. This is the first time I have ever heard of a policeman not doing his job just because he didn’t want to do it.

In the mean time, I was looking for a new place, and trying to get back the 6-months of rent money from the owner. Every time I called, he kept saying, “Tomorrow, or give me a few days to get it together”. After a month, I went to a lawyer and it was there that he told me there are 2 sets of laws in Turkey. The lawyer told me that although I was in the right and deserved to have my money back, that it would depend on how the judge felt and what the court decided. He said if the court decided against me, that I would have to pay for him, and for the other lawyer and all court costs. I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have enough money. I kept calling that man for another month until he blocked my number. There were two other people that were supposed to help me, but they also took a lot of money and didn’t do what they said they would.

In the new house, there is no heat, only one wood stove. To buy wood is expensive and it is not logs like people use in the US. They give the scrapes from the lumber yard floor, including the trash, like plastic bags and food wrappers. There is no hot water coming out of the tap or shower. There are cracks in the floor that air blows through. I bought plastic to cover the floor and put down a carpet to hold it. Only two rooms have carpet, the sitting room and bedroom. The rest of the house has been very cold. I boil water to wash dishes. There is a little mechanism that heats water for the shower (like a tiny water heater), but the water only comes out in small amounts. But, I won’t be here very long, as I am leaving soon. Live and learn, right?!

I don’t know what you hear about the situation here, but for the Syrians, it is very bad. The Turks hate Syrians more than you could ever imagine!  In some of the businesses Turks ask Syrian men if they know any Syrian women willing to be prostitutes. My friend, her brother, and I were waiting for a bus when four big men came over and asked if we were Arabs? I told them, we are Americans, and what did they want. They left after that. Her brother has been robbed of two bicycles by Turks at different times. Just yesterday, a Turkish man came into the shop where my friend works and told them he wanted to burn all the Syrians in the world. The shop owner, who is Turkish, told that man that he would burn twice then, once here on earth and once when God judges the world. Another example, before my friend got the shop job, he interviewed for a very good electric technician job. The company was impressed with his knowledge, and his ability to speak three languages fluently. They began filling out the paper to allow him to work for their company and asked for his Turkish ID, but he only has the ID that the government gives Syrians. When the company people saw that, they said, “You are a Syrian?!” He told them, yes. They apologized, and told him the government would not allow them to hire him. It isn’t just about jobs either. Last week, a 17 year old boy was beaten to death by a Turk for less than $20 U.S. dollars, which happened to be his entire salary for the month, and no that is not a regular wage! Every day some small child gets beaten by adult Turks for selling tissues along the streets. The nine year old neighbor child of my friend was beaten, beheaded and had his organs removed by a drunken Turk. The man then took the organs to the nearest hospital where he attempted to sell them! Far from being the humanitarian country they pretend to be, they are pushing the Syrians down and hope they will all leave, not only Turkey, but Syrian, as well. The Turkish government is very ambitious, as it wants to reclaim part of Syria that they stole in the past. They try to rewrite their history every day to make themselves look like good people, and good Muslims. They pretend to be Muslim, but they have their weekly holy day on Sunday, they drink, smoke, have films that are more pornographic than any rated-R movie in the US, they ogle women, and drug use is rampant in Turkey!

In summary, go to Turkey to visit the countryside, seaside, or mountains, but don’t live there.

Thanks for visiting.



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