Of Expat Despair and Turkish Delight

Distress in Expat Paradise

by Miss Footloose

Expat Paradise full of Turkish carpets“Do you have a comb on you?” a frenzied British voice asks me.


I’ve just entered the ladies room of a restaurant on the Turkish coast. I’ve never been here before; we’re just playing tourists. I do not know the agitated woman examining herself in front of the mirror. She’s skinny, sportishly attired, and past the bloom of youth. (Sadly, so am I.)

Her hair is out-of-a-box red, straight and short, and fits like a copper helmet on her head, as if sprayed into submission by a motherlode of hairspray.

Expat paradise

I noticed other foreigners in this restaurant, which apparently is an expat hangout. They all seem to know each other. A good number of Brits and Germans have made their home here on this beautiful coast of Turkey. You can see why. Nature here is spectacular, the food is delicious, and the local people are friendly.

The coast of Turkey


Who wouldn’t want to lounge away an afternoon in a restaurant like this one below?

Expat paradise restaurant

The Turkish delight of outdoor restaurants


“You have a comb on you?” the woman asks again. She’s not looking at me, but is peering frenetically at her reflection and nervously arranging a small lock of hair by her ear. I am mystified by her desperation.

“No, I don’t,” I say, which is actually the truth. I would have lied if I’d had one as it’s not my hobby to lend my comb to strangers in public restrooms. I know you may find it uncharitable of me not to come to the aid of a sister in need, but so be it.

Expat despair

I see her reflection in the mirror, see the manic look in her dark eyes.

One of the fun things about travel and expat life is that, apart from meeting interesting locals, you come across flaky foreigners — refugees from the Western rat race, adventurous retirees, misfits and oddballs who are out of place in their own country. I’m not sure which category this panicky woman fits into. Maybe she’s just a visiting granny high on Turkish Delight.

Expat Paradise Full of Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight in the Tuesday Market in the town of Fethiye, Turkey

I rake my fingers through my own hair and do a bit of fluffing. “I just go like this,” I tell her, to give her another option, which may actually not work on her helmet hair. “You look fine,” I add to comfort her and calm her distress. (Let it not be said I don’t try to be nice.)

A light bulb moment!

She turns around and faces me. Her eyes are very dark. There’s a moment of silence. “Who cares, anyway, really?” she says then, as if struck by revelation and enlightenment.

“That’s my motto,” I say cheerily, reaching for the door to the toilet stall.

She takes a deep breath as if this profound insight has taken a load off her shoulders. “Really, who cares?” She turns and sashays off to the dining room, expat despair dispelled for the moment.

Other expats I’ve met here, British and Dutch, love living here in Turkey. They appear not to be troubled by hair despair and seem relaxed rather than stressed. Possibly because they do not partake excessively of sugar or mind altering substances, but instead get high on watching the spectacular sunsets on this coast.

Beach in Turkey

The Turkish delight of beach sunsets


Does this photo remind you of the ones published on the site Turkeysforlife? Well, British expat Julia and I were sitting at the same table (with our spouses), watching the same sunset. Her posts about her life in Turkey lured us here, and so we met. This was great fun and the first time I ever met someone I knew in the blogosphere.

It’s easy to see why expats love it here. Here’s the garden of the house of Dutch expats, hammock and all. No expat despair here.

Turkish garden

Expat paradise in Turkey


They traveled around, were in India and Morocco and Portugal. They fell in love with Turkey and settled here. They speak Turkish, which is no small feat.

But I digress

I love funky people

Back at the restaurant table with my prince, I sip my wine and we order food. I see the hair-crisis sister standing at the bar with three men, talking and laughing and having a drink. Later on I see her alone at a table typing away on a laptop.

Maybe she’s a famous novelist and I don’t recognize her. Maybe she’s sending an email to her grandchildren. Or maybe she has a blog and is writing about her hair epiphany in a Turkish bathroom: Nobody Cares What My Hair Looks Like!

Let me finish by saying that I love meeting funky people and to offer you the story of an Italian oddball I met in Ghana, West Africa: Expat Life: You Meet All Kinds.

PS: This story took place some time ago, while we were living the expat life in Moldova. We have since moved to France, where we also enjoy the expat life, as you can read here: 7 Reasons Why I Love My French Village

* * *

No doubt you’ve come across a few oddballs in your traveling life. Do tell and entertain me!

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DL Nelson

Thank you…

It is the end of a long day…I’m tired and looking at the photos was like a mini vacation before I go to bed.

Sharing a comb is like sharing a toothbrush. Never. Share!

I wonder if I’m one of those odd-balls. eek. Sometimes I act out of sheer impulse then afterwards I think how weird it probably looked to the other person.

BTW, I love your comment form. Is this Wordpress or can us other mortals on Blogger use it too?

Lol, loved this. And I have to guiltily admit i haven’t been reading your blog as regularly as I should, because, like, did you move away from Moldova to Turkey? Or are you just visiting?

I’ve heard from other expats that Turkey and especially Istanbul is right there at the top of places to live. Can’t wait to visit sometime, but got all of Africa to cover first.

And, I must say, Turkish Delight is one of the sweets I absolutely don’t care for. Not one bit. I can think of a hundred better ways to waste calories.


*blissful sigh…* now I want to visit Turkey! Once, we were traveling in the middle of the Sahara, and we stopped at an auberge. There was a single French woman staying there as well, and we sort of made friends. She invited us to this soiree she’d sort of arranged with local musicians for entertainment. (that is, I think she paid them but I’m sure it was their idea and I’m also sure they were fantastically overpaid!) We all lived in country. At one point, they tried to get her to dance. Mauritanian dancing is very subtle and involved a… Read more »

Well it doesn’t seem like her hair crisis bothered the three men surrounding her. Your hammock looks inviting, but I still prefer a hammock overlooking the Caribbean. Do you think you could live in Turkey?

Oh, I feel for her as I’m always in a hair crisis! Love that restaurant with the loungers, by the way.

Well that’s a tad bizarre!


LOL over this one. I have never had anyone ask me to borrow a brush. Heaven knows, I never carried a comb. Heck most days I forget to fuss with my hair even before leaving the house. Your photos are so enticing…makes me want to travel to Turkey.

It sounds as though ‘Helmet Head’ took your words to heart, at least for the moment. Let’s hope she applies them to the bigger picture as well. We visited Istanbul in February and enjoyed it immensely. Hope to someday return and visit Cappadocia and the southern beaches…

I highly recommend making real-life friends out of your virtual blogging friends. It’s totally worked for me!

Oooh you’ve got me yearning for Turkish delight now. I just love the stuff!

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