Today in Patara, I started walking to the beach where there are also sand dunes and ancient ruins. I walked through the village, asked how to get there and they kept saying to follow the road up. I kept walking, walking, walking. Came across a tortoise (the beach is their breeding ground). Further up, came across a construction site with a lot of men working. Checked with them about the beach, they said keep going up to the left.
Soon, I came across an unpaved road through a lightly forested area; heard water so figured that was the right way. Heard footsteps behind me, saw a fairly well-dressed middle aged man walking at his own speed on the opposite side of the street. I acknowledged his presence, we said merhaba (hello) to each other. He stopped at the entrance of the sand dunes to take a picture with his phone, I took some as well. Then he tried to speak to me in Turkish and I kept motioning that I didn’t understand.
I didn’t stop him from walking near me down the sand dunes but then he walked up and put his arm around me. I brushed it off. That happened a couple more times and then he wouldn’t let me brush it off. I could tell something was about to happen. He grabbed me with his other hand, tried to kiss me, I pushed his face away. He pushed me down on the ground and kept trying to hold my arms down while groping and kissing my chest. At one point, he managed to stick his hand down my panties. I stuck my thumb in his eye, he grabbed that arm, I grabbed his windpipe with my other hand, he grabbed that arm, then I stuck my other thumb in his eye again (thank you National Geographic Channel). Fuck him. FUCK HIM. I guess he gave up at that point because he got off of me and when I got up, he started saying “it’s ok, sorry” in broken English. He even tried to brush the sand off of me and gave me his hand to help me up the sand dune. I tried to slap his face, he ducked, so I slapped his arm. When I looked at him then, I knew I was capable of murder. Torture, even. He started walking off and I got out my iPhone to take his pic. The only reason I didn’t go after him was because I realized I lucked out in that he didn’t hurt me more than I hurt him. Just as he was crossing the second dune, an older German couple appeared and I ran up to them and started crying.
They were so sweet, they comforted me and offered to walk me back to my hotel. I didn’t want to ruin their plans so I just asked to join them. We made our way through the dunes onto the beach, then through the ruins (which are beautiful, by the way, especially with the wildflowers growing in now).
They walked me back to my hotel, where I sat with a young-ish New Zealand couple on a RTW and the older son of a Scottish family a couple years younger than me. It helped a lot. The hotel owner’s wife called her husband, told him everything and he told me he would take me to the police station. Then, the wife yelled over to the neighbouring hotel and within a few minutes, several old Turkish women with their colorful headscarves rushed over to see his photo. This village is so small that everyone knows everyone; they didn’t recognize the man (yes, it was a bad pic).
Kazim arrived and we drove to the next villagr to the jandarma station. Jandarma, he managed to explain between outbursts of anger on my behalf, is part military, part police. It was totally intimidating when we got there because we were led to a room with five large, uniformed men who each had a pistol AND whatever you call the military-issued M-16/AK-47 types. I started shaking; Kazim never left my side. They had to find a soldier that could speak better English, and in walked the cutest Turkish guy ever! He was younger too (my age, I found out later). Him not being another big, older man, and being my age, cute, and really warm and nice, was exactly what I needed. I know that probably sounds weird but hey, I stopped trembling.
He asked me what happened and when I started talking, I started crying and shaking again. After I calmed down, he said that we would all drive to where it happened, and see what was there. On our way, I finished telling him what happened and we also stopped by the construction site to see if the attacker was there. Since it was five hours later, a lot of the men had left already. We went back to the station where we put together an official report, though I knew from the beginning they probably wouldn’t catch the guy. They also gave me and Kazim pastries to eat. The cute soldier said he felt very protective of me (aww!), that Turkish guys are not like that, that they all felt so horrible for me. I believed him; I could tell the officers were upset. Came back to the hotel where I was met by open arms from Kazim’s family and the few guests at the pension.
Tomorrow (actually it’ll be today by the time I get to wifi to publish this), the jandarma will come to Patara again to check with the businesses here plus the construction site I had walked by (and I think probably where the attacker was) and send my report to all the other villages this station covers. I definitely am not turned off Patara itself; if anything, this experience has elevated my opinion of the Patara people. But I’m feeling pretty alone now, in my room. Can’t sleep.
Maybe I was stupid for walking alone to the empty sand dunes? But I’ve been in situations by myself that I thought were more risky. Am I too comfortable traveling? I’m not spending too much time wondering about these things. Bottom line is, I’m street-smart but that can’t always protect me. This is one of the risks I take traveling as a solo female. This situation was not my fault, it was a wrong-place-wrong-time scenario. End of story. Also, the jandarma equivalent of 911 is to dial 156.
Sorry for the super long post. Needed some therapeutic venting. I’ve decided to post the picture I took of the man who tried to rape me. Can you feel the isolation and desperation I felt?