Days 3-4: Ankara

Days 3-4: Ankara
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Dinner in Ankara, May 15

Friday, May 16: I had allotted five minutes for riding to the third floor, collecting my suitcase, and boarding the bus. Clutching the remnants of my breakfast, I stared at the elevator numbers. Why weren’t they glowing? Why wasn’t I moving?

At our five-star hotel’s breakfast buffet, I had eaten fresh apricots, Brie on bread, smoked salmon, and five pieces of Turkish delight. The apricots baffled one of my classmates. “How do you eat it?” “It’s just like a peach,” I reassured her. She replied, “I’ve never eaten a peach before.”

Just as I was wondering whether I should go solicit that classmate for help, the elevator swung into motion. When the doors cracked open to reveal a young man with luggage in tow, I skipped out past him. Halfway down the hall, I paused.

This was the wrong floor.

Too late I remembered that the elevator required a hotel key to activate. It hadn’t responded to my button mashing. Instead, the young man must have summoned it without its ever acknowledging my presence. I needed to get down to the floor beneath… but I had given my roommate the key.

That’s okay, I thought, I’ll take the stairs. I hurried to a white panel marked “Fire Door” and pushed onto the landing beyond it. There I faced a sealed entrance to the staircase. As the door behind me slid closed, the thought flickered in my mind: What if it… I spun around and grabbed the handle.

Locked. My mind leaped up, flashing white tails at me. I had no cell phone. No one knew where I was. I should already be on the bus. I began to pound on the door.

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Caroline examines the Turkish store map

The night before, we had darted across the street to visit a shopping mall built like a cruise ship, in search of an ATM. Caroline and I had attempted to puzzle out a store map written entirely in Turkish. Though we identified our own location and even found places labeled ‘ATM,’ we couldn’t manage to link the two.

Now, trapped in a closet between two doors, I realized the only way out was forward. A white silhouette of a man sprinting alongside green arrows guided me onward. I could not escape onto the third floor, because no door allowed access to the hotel’s innards. I pounded down flight after flight of stairs, wondering if I would even escape at the ground floor.

Thanks be to God, the traitorous stairs spit me out into the lobby. Head hung, I followed the last of my classmates onto the elevator. “Third floor, right?” I verified. We all should have reported to the bus five minutes ago.

“No excuses,” Dr. G intoned when we emerged at last. “I don’t want to hear any stories.”

I saved it for the blog.

4 Responses »

  1. My word. That sounds like the best breakfast buffet on the face of the planet. Also…that’s so stressful. I’m glad you made it! I remember an encounter with a tiny, poorly functioning elevator in Europe that meant I had to bolt, pell-mell, up and down about four flights of fire escape stairs in order to collect something from my room and still make it to the bus in time. It was exciting. Travel is always so interesting! 😛 😀

    • Thanks, Xi; it was definitely one of those experiences that you can only laugh about later. It’s an adventure!

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