This is one of those “Breaking News” type stories. I had planned on writing about my activities in the last 4 to 5 days, until what happened to me a few hours ago. So I leave Pamukkale this morning and take a shuttle service from the bus company near the hotel, that was supposed to take me to the main bus station where I would board and head to my next destination. Simple enough, right? Not really! So the shuttle guy drops me off at a bus stop somewhere in Denizli, Turkey. I was totally unsure if that was my stop but he, like most Turks I have found, speaks no English. So here I am, standing at the bus stop with my luggage. Luckily I know the name of the main bus station that I need to depart from. After much gesturing and repetition of the name of where I need to go, a man waves down one of the many mini busses and points for me to jump on. So I do.
Once we arrive at the main bus station another gentleman runs up to the minibus asks where I am going and then tells me to follow with him to the terminals. The bus I need, leaves in about 10 to 15 minutes so I rush over especially since I have no ticket yet. A few minutes later I have paid for my ride and am told that the bus will be there soon and to get ready, when I realize suddenly. I DON’T HAVE MY BACKPACK. Now you have to understand that most of my valuables, including laptop, passport, newly filled flash drive with all my photos and some cash are all in that backpack. Needless to say a wave of panic immediately races through my body and takes up residence there! I try to explain as best I can to the guys that my backpack was left on the mini bus. I get my money back that I had just paid as it is now impossible for me to leave. My mind is in a chaotic daze at this moment and the lack of any decent knowledge of English now frustrates me (maybe unreasonably so). I don’t know the name of the minibus but find someone who was on the same bus with me to see if someone can ask him. This does no good as he speaks no English either.
I don’t recall all the details I just remember going over to one of the traffic police booths where the large buses pass through to see if I can explain to them. I walk over and try to explain I left my backpack on the mini bus, he gestures for me to enter. I explain as best I can while he calls over two other men. I once again recant the story. They now have an idea of what I am trying to say but point at the large luggage I have in tow, I acknowledge that it is indeed mine but I also had a backpack. A few others pack into the booth, as I am asking if there is anyone who speaks English. They seem more fascinated with me than my backpack but at least there is a sense that they all know what is going on now. It would seem as if we were playing charades with all the body language infused conversation to aid communication. I am told to sit and relax basically (well that is what I assume as I am being spoken to in Turkish). I don’t want to sit I want to pace and think and figure out what I am going to do. No one seems worried but me! For a brief second I felt like crying and then quickly realize that would do me nor the situation any good, plus it’s hot and I can’t afford to have any necessary water content leave my body.
I sit for a few seconds but feel as if I am not doing anything useful and think it would be better to somehow go back to the bus stop and see what I can do. I remember they were radioing each other and I ask the police if they can just radio the mini bus companies to see if my bag is there. At this point I am fluctuating between losing my mind and feeling as if everything will be fine. But this emotional back and forth happens so rapidly I have no time to settle into either one too comfortably. An hour has now passed and I leave with another officer, over to a group of men, one calls someone who works for one of the major bus companies and also speaks English. He tells me he will radio all the buses from his company and call back in a few minutes. This is not reassuring (though much appreciated) as I know that his company is not the one I used. Thankfully a gentleman overhears us and walks over. He speaks English very well and asks me to tell him exactly what happened. He tells me not to worry he will help me and everything will be fine. How he is sure of this I don’t know but I feel happy to have him on my side and he is not looking at me as if I am crazy. He asks if I remember who came over to the minibus when it arrived at the station, I said yes and point out the man! As luck would have it he exclaims that that is his brother. He goes over gets the bus company name from him. Goes to the location where they leave from and has a driver radio the information in.
As the driver and the speaker on the other end go back and forth, this gentleman looks at me with a chuckle and nods. It’s all good they have it and will bring it by in 20 minutes!!! Unbelievable, I cannot explain the magnitude of my elation and relief at this point. I thank him profusely and what does he want in return, only a coca cola lol. We sit and have our sodas while waiting for the minibus. I asked what the drivers said, and he explained that the one that had my bag asked if it was a black girl’s. Now this sole adjective may not have been very helpful in Miami or the Caribbean, but in Denizli Turkey it was highly descriptive! That was when he chuckled he told me. The bus arrives my backpack is handed over to me. I can’t stop smiling in disbelief. He tells me that he never worries about theft there no matter how poor the people are. He works in tourism in that town and no matter what people have left or lost it is always returned. That was just the nature of the people there. I am so impressed and touched. I go collect my suitcase from the police office where I had left it. Everyone is happy for me and I board the next bus, where I am sitting and writing this now!
Despite what any shady massage parlor will tell you, this is the true definition of a happy ending!