15.07.2010 30 °C
Well guys - be for-warned this one is not for the faint hearted.
Today the Watson 5 decided to travel a little further afield and head to the Princes' Islands for a day in the sun and the water. Our lonely planet lead us to believe if we walked to the waterfront (about 10min from here) we could catch a ferry direct to the group of 4 islands. Off we headed at 8.15am to catch the 8.30am ferry, when we got to the terminal it became apparent the boats were not heading in that direction. After a couple of confusing conversations (something we specialise in) we were able to ascertain that the terminal we needed to be at was a tram ride away on the other side of Istanbul. Next with some help we mastered the ticket machine, got tokens and jumped on the next tram. Toby was excited to see another "Alligator" to go up (he meant escalator) We were feeling very proud of how we had worked out the tram system as it is a very cheap way to get around you can go anywhere for $1.50 and the kids are free. Anyway we arrived at the terminal and for $6.00 for all of us we were able to purchase a ticket for the 1 1/2 hour journey to the Islands - so off we went.
The boat trip though long and slow was a lot of fun, many people talked to the kids particularly two elderly Iraqi men took a fancy to them putting their hats on them picking them up. We kept Bellie in the backpack for 90% of the journey as it is easier than having her out. Bellie had here photo taken about 20 times on the boat - people are intrigued by her and also the backpack. As we hopped off the boat a woman said to Matt - "Everyone on the boat loves your children - they are all talking about them."
Bellie in a bear hug with a friend
The kids Iraqi friends
The guide books had us believe the best island to go to was the 4th one, Buyukada and a couple of conversations on the boat confirmed this. So we sat the journey out in the hot sun and patiently waited to get there. Eventually we made it and well and truly felt we had earned our swim. These Islands were stunning with gorgeous old buildings and market type stores selling fresh produce and bread. There are no cars on the Island only bikes and horse drawn carriages. Off the boat we piled and headed for the place where you catch a carriage. You can only imagine the dismay on our sweaty faces to see about 200 people lined up to catch a carriage which was the only way to get to the beach as it was too far to walk. We didn't even contemplate waiting for what would have probably been 2 hours to catch a ride. So back to the dock we headed to catch the boat back to the 1st Island, Kinaliada which was the only one we could see with a beach in walking distance. The very same Island the guide books said not to stop at.
It's funny they say not to go there in the weekends as it is horrendously busy. Well today it was packed and I shudder to imagine it being any busier. So we were finally there, we hopped off the boat and decided the beach to the left looked a little less packed so headed that way. It turned out this was a local beach we looked very foreign there but that was okay the people were very friendly.
So the next challenge was for the girls to get their togs on - not a change shed in site and we figured probably not acceptable to get the kids changed on the beach in a Muslim country. So after a lap of the block we managed to gesture to a guy who told us there was changing facilities at the local tennis courts, off we three trotted. The changing shed was like a shower tent so we jammed in there and melted whilst getting everyone in their togs. Bellie was doing her usual trying to take off so was pushing at the tent door whilst I was topless. Anyway back off the the beach finally.
I tell you the pool at Dorset St is ever so appealing after this!
Now the beach - as well as being packed was made of huge stones and in the water they were slimy so the kids couldn't walk on them. So Matt and I struggled to get into the water with them and finally had a swim which was nice and refreshing. Bellie made another friend in a young teenage girl who let her sit on her lilo (don't worry Mum I was holding her the whole time) and splash her. So then it was out for a sit on the towels under our umbrella we paid $5 to hire and the plan was to get some lunch. Toby said he was keen to have a picnic there so Matt was about to head to find us something. At about that time I noticed there seemed to be something wrong just down the beach from us - people were yelling and gesturing, I said to Matt "there's something wrong" my first thoughts were a shark - though had no idea whether there were sharks in these parts. Matt had stood up by this time and said he thought they were gesturing that someone was missing in the water. He then ran into the water and swam over to where the others were looking. He got to dive under a couple of times slightly down from the others as there was a slight drift in current. When he was about 5 metres away and under again he said that there was a big drop off in the sea floor and you couldnt see the bottom. As he came up the guys beside him had found a young mans body. As they dragged him into the beach I called to Matt to come and take the kids so I could go and help. My first thought was this boy is dead, there were no signs of life. I yelled at the men to lay him on the stones, he wasn't breathing and two people at the same time started to jump on his chest and stomach. I could see they were doing so without any knowledge so pushed both sets of hands out of the way and began chest compressions. I was just at the point of thinking I needed to do some breathing as well and worrying about my own safety in doing so (hepatitis, aids etc) this guy was spewing out frothy water. Then he started breathing erratically at first but at least that took that decision away from me. The next challenge was trying to ascertain whether anyone had called for any help. It was absolutely hopeless not a single person spoke English - the first time we had encountered this on our trip but we think because we had ended up at a very local beach. Matt had come back after gesturing with 2 local girls to keep an eye out for Holly and Toby so he could come back with Bella to see if I was ok. He said men we jostling behind me and gesturing to get me away. He said he yelled at them and said Nurse, Nurse which meant nothing to them but when he said Hospital one replied Doctor and he just said yes so they wouldnt try and drag me away from guy. He also went round asking anyone if they spoke English so we could translate information about the boy and also if help was coming. Finally after what seemed an eternity of watching this guys erratic breathing and what became a semi-conscious combative state a police van arrived with a local doctor a GP I am guessing. I was unable to even give him a handover, I asked if he had oxygen and he said there was some but not here. So they got the guy into the van and drove off - we can only hope they got him to Istanbul and a hospital as he was in a pretty bad way.
All during the drama Holly and Toby were great. I had left them with instructions on not to move when I went down the beach to get Matt out so I could help. It was about 50 metres away but when Matt went back with Bella they were happy as to play with the rocks on the beach.
Matt and I were left feeling pretty shell shocked and upset. It was difficult for us to get any closure and find out what happened. We feel fortunate to live where we do - an ambulance or helicopter would be with us in minutes. We still feel quite upset tonight - it is times like these you just want to hug your family close and never let them go. That young lad was lucky today and it felt very strange for us to have been there and to have been part of it. We were astonished at the few people who helped to look for him but decided that most of them probably couldn't swim and were just paddling at the edge. Possibly what happened to this guy - he said when he dove down there was a big shelf there and the guy probably just stepped off the end of it.
By this time we decided it was time to head home and call this a day. 7 1/2 hours after we left for the day we returned. As Matt said if you told someone you travelled 7 1/2 hours to go for a swim they would think you were insane. You know those little people did not utter a whinge or a moan all day even when things took a lot longer than they should of. We can not believe how much they have changed in a week. Little superstars!
Well that's it from us guys - other than we send you all our love and take care xxxx.