Every so often I like to write a little post about someone who has done the same as me – given up everything they’ve ever known and moved to a new country for a new beginning.
So when my friend, Sue, invited me to lunch I figured it was as good a time as any to have a chat with her about how she ended up here in Fethiye after spending most of her life in Alberta, Canada.
The first thing I learnt about her is that when she invites you to lunch you say yes – and make sure you wear lose fitting clothes. There’s me strolling down to meet her at her home, expecting a sandwich, maybe some ice cream if I’m lucky but, blimey, how wrong I was. There on the table was a chef prepared meal including salad, a chicken thingy with mushrooms and cheese (not sure that’s the technical name for it but hey ho) and some chips in honour of my British upbringing.
Anyway, after stuffing myself and getting away with gently suggesting I take a doggy bag home with me, we began the interview and this is what I found out…
Sue originally discovered Fethiye after being on holiday in Marmaris in September 2012, where a friend suggested a gulet trip that departed from Fethiye. She admits to being a bit reluctant but ended up falling in love with not only the area but the boating lifestyle. Soon afterwards she started looking at ways she could orchestrate a move here and how she could make a living legally.
Like most of us, myself included, it was a bit of a pipe dream but then tragedy struck and her house in Alberta completely burnt down on Christmas Day of 2012. Not only did Sue lose everything she owned, she also lost some of her beloved pets.
As if this wasn’t enough to persuade her it was time for a change, a few weeks later she suffered a series of detached retinas and lost a significant amount of vision in both eyes so couldn’t continue her Project Management career that she’d worked so hard to establish.
Now, at this point, I think a lot of us would have said ‘oh **** it’, settled down with a large bottle of vodka and locked ourselves away from the world.
Well, not our Sue, she saw this as the opportunity she had been waiting for – after all, aside from family and friends, what was there now to keep her in Canada – no home, no job, no pets, no nothing.
Of course, we can’t forget the issue of her not now being able to see particularly well. Before coming to Fethiye she had to have extensive operations that involved something like fluid being removed from her eyes and replaced with Freon gas (must admit I cringed and stopped listening at this point!), and a dreadfully long recovery which included many, many months of “face down” bed rest, starring at the carpet of the hotel where she had stayed since the house fire.
The upside of this was that it gave her time to consider her options – it was either that or watch Jeremy Kyle – and she came up with the idea of buying a gulet, living on it and offering week long cruises around the gorgeous coast of Turkey.
Swiftly moving on to January 2014 and we now find Sue the proud owner of the Neşko gulet thanks to a travel agent in Istanbul and his contacts who helped her find the boat. It wasn’t in great condition mind you. So with the help of some great Turkish friends she renovated the entire vessel, installed new bathrooms, air con, seating – you name it, it was replaced. The same friend introduced her to Kamil, who is now her Chef and she also employed a Captain, Master Sailor and a Cadette and on April 1st 2014 the gulet hit the water for the first time. It didn’t sink, which I think is always a good thing for a boat and they took their first paying passengers in May this year.
The most popular cruise route, and Sue’s favourite, is the Blue Cruise from Fethiye to Kekova, where her guests have seen turtles, dolphins and colourful fish as well as some stunning scenery.
Of course she doesn’t quite know what she’ll be doing in the future but for now, sailing on the open seas and sharing this wonderful country with visitors from all over the world is enough to keep her smiling. And, let’s face it, when you think that a mere 17 months previously her whole life was a smouldering pile of ash, I reckon the girl’s done good.
If you’d like to know more about Sue’s gulet cruises you can visit her website or Facebook page.
Me? Well I’m hoping she’ll get so much business from this blog that I’ll get a free trip but, in the meantime, I’ll settle for another one of those chicken thingy’s…