The night of July 15th started like any other night. I went to bed around 10pm listened to music until about 11 then turned off the CD. I drifted into a light sleep and woke about 2am to the sound of the “calling to prayer” at the local mosque. I took a second glance at the bright red display on my clock radio. That’s odd, I thought to myself, “this guy is way too early”. The first call to prayer is always just before dawn. This was followed by an announcement from the loudspeaker from the minaret which I could not make out. I got up and as I headed for the bathroom, Mr. D. was just finishing brushing his teeth. He had been up late watching a film. He said to me he had just checked the BBC world news channel for the usual headlines and that there was a coup going on, according to the BBC, the army were attempting to take over the government!!! He then said,” nothing for us to worry about....they have had them before and the country always bounces back,” , we just had to wait and see, it will all be over by the morning”.
Well my reaction to this was nothing as calm. To put it mildly I was terrified. I asked him, “what does this mean, where is it happening? Will someone fly planes over us and drop bombs? Will we be able to get our flights? (We had flights booked to visit family in Ireland in 10 days time)
He said it was in just two cities, Istanbul and Ankara and not all of Turkey and just go to back to sleep!
Mr.D is an expert on world history, he has read hundreds of books on the history of Ireland, England, Europe, first and second world wars, Korea, China, Russia, Japan, America, you name it and he can discuss the battles, the leaders, the dates, the kings and queens. In a quiz, this would be his specialised subject! So he can recognise patterns of events. He knows what way things will go as history really does repeat itself. So this is why he had the foresight and was not filled with fear and panic like me and so many others here in Turkey. Some ex-pats were so afraid of a civil war that they immediately sold their homes at a loss and left Turkey only to regret it a week later.
Within 4 minutes of our conversation he was asleep! However, this did not reassure me. As I lay looking at the ceiling, listening to the odd car horn and yacht sirens from the marina, thoughts flooded my mind. I felt like we were sitting ducks with nowhere to hide! I feared that enemies of Turkey would see this as a time to attack and we were all vulnerable while we waited and waited for morning. I thought “this must be a hint of what it must be like for the people of Syria as bombs fall on their towns. There were no bombs falling here. Still the silence of the night did not bring me any comfort. I had a feeling of lead in my stomach which made me feel physically ill. I came to the realisation that there would be no sleep for me tonight. At 3.30am, one and a half hours of torturing myself with my own thoughts, I decided to get up. I looked out my windows, several neighbours also had their lights on. After starting up my laptop, I checked Facebook, I wanted to see some photos of my family and friends in Ireland. On opening it, I went immediately to the messages. There were several. Anxious friends had seen the news (they are 2 hours behind us in Europe) and seemingly it was all over the news in graphic colour earlier and the media was replaying it making it look like it was all around the country. I immediately reassure everyone that where we were was quiet just like any other night. I then turned on the TV. There were images of soldiers surrendering and walking with their hands in the air. It turned out to be just a small group within the army. The army leaders had pleaded with them to surrender which they did.
Mr.D. woke up about 4am and joined me watching the TV. We waited for the president to address the nation. The TV presenter said he was now in Istanbul. As we waited I began to relax a bit, Please God, let it be over. He addressed the nation around 5.20am. He reassured everyone that it was now over and asked everyone to go out on to the streets to celebrate. Democracy had won. After the speech I looked out from our kitchen window. Our neighbour’s lights were going out. People could relax now.
Later that morning, I still felt tense. I couldn't shake it off. All our neighbours were carrying on as before. People cut the grass, went to the beach, went shopping, restaurants were still busy. I kept asking Mr.D. to check the news and wondered why our neighbours did not have their televisions on all day to see if all was still ok! I must have seemed a nervous wreck when I asked “are we ok? Is it really over? What will happen now? They all tried their best to reassure me and it took me about five days before the lump of lead left my stomach. Mr. D. says, in future he will not give me any bad news during the night. It's now over a month since all this happened. We did get home for our holiday and we are back in Turkey again enjoying our life in this beautiful country.