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Day 12: Facing fears and the human car wash

Day 12: Fethiye, Turkey

After a somewhat sleepless night dreaming about my camera plummeting to earth, me plummeting to earth, and basically every other bad outcome possible happening, it was paragliding D-Day.

We were picked up by the Gravity Tandem paragliding van early in the morning, my stomach doing flips the whole while. We were soon joined by our other jumpers (fliers?), a newlywed Korean couple and another Korean fellow and headed off to the office at Oludeniz to pick up our pilots and gear. The only thing that was kind of unsettling was the fact that we were brought into the basement where their office is located and they didn’t really say anything about the plan to us. Whether that’s to build suspense or just cuz they were also tired early in the morning, I don’t know, but it certainly worked to further creep me out! 

We soon loaded up everyone and everything into the van and set off up Baba Dag. We drew numbered chips to decide who would be partnered who whom and the order of go. I drew 2 and was partenered with Ufuk. Leah drew 8 and did not quite catch her pilots name. One of the Korean guys drew the pilot called “Psycho”! I was quite pleased to not be paired with him.

As we wound our way up the mountain, the Korean girl and I were having the same thought: SCARY! I reassured myself by thinking of the fact that I was probably more likely to die hurtling off a cliff on a missed corner going up the mountain! We reached the top and climbed the stairs up to the takeoff site. As the wind picked up, and I could see the vast expanse of land far below us, I began to have second thoughts and sat down on the picnic bench at the top, saying, “Nah guys, I think I’ll just stay here”, in what could only be described as the voice of a mouse. Ufuk and our driver beckoned me forward and I somehow found my feet walking in their direction. Within a minute I was strapped in and we were taking off. I didn’t realize at the time but we were actually the first to take off, which in retrospect was probably for the best. 

I was freaking out at first – no screaming but just eyes screwed shut and hands clamped togeter so hard they were tingling. Within a couple of minutes I opened my eyes up…. I can’t say I was totally elated to be up there but I was definitely ok-ish at that point. I still kept my hands firmly clasped however! My pilot, Ufuk, pointed things out to me and we talked about his life story a bit, how he came to be a pilot and so on. He was very reassuring and an excellent pilot, taking photos and video while steering and chatting. At one point he told me to open my arms like a bird…I think I managed to be a baby bird! He showed me the blue lagoon, which is when o discovered that the previous day Leah and I had made it to the beach but not actually the lagoon part, which is curved in at the end of the beach. He also pointed some sea turtles out to me. So cool! 

Soon enough we were landing and I was wondering if my legs would be able to hold me. Sure enough, landing was a breeze as all I had to do was stand up and walk. Super fun! Can’t believe I faced my fears and did it! With that done, we watched our videos and saw our photos and paid the exorbitant additional fee to receive these. They’re on a disc so we will be able to see them once we get home most likely.

After that morning, we figured we deserved some pampering so after a light lunch by the seaside, we headed to try out a Turkish bath or Hamam. The one we tried was called Sultan Hamam in Fethiye. The owner, a charming Austrian man, picked us up directly from the hostel and brought us there. One thing I would really recommend is to bring a bikini or even undies and a bra that need a washing! Once we had selected the add-ons we wanted in addition to the basic bath part, we were shown to a changing room where we fashioned a skirt and bandeau combo out of towels….so as you can tell it may have been better with a bikini, especially in the summer when you can use the pool outside too.

Anyhow, being nurses now and having lived in Korea and attended the baths there, we were ok with just our towel costumes, so we proceeded to the first part of “the human car wash”: the sauna. In this part you are meant to stay 5-15 minutes, so we stayed nearly 15. Once you’re done that, you’re meant to go into the steam room for 1-2mins. In reality, the steam room was so hot that all we could do was stand in the gush of steam that came out with the door opening! We figured that was good enough. With that done the real scrub began….

We figured it would be women doing this but lo and behold a couple toweled fellows rolled up and gave us the old wash. It starts with a scrub with a quite stringent loofah. It was SHOCKING how much icky dead skin came off. Pretty sure that any tan I had obtained the previous day in the sun was quickly removed. Once you get scrubbed, you get up and go over to the sink to get rinsed then return to the heated marble shelf where you lie down again and this time, they use some giant fabric tube with soapy water to create bubbles all over and these get scrubbed into you. After this, you get rinsed again and they’ll also do your hair. At this point, it kinda feels like they’re trying to drown you, but soon after that it’s over, you’re patted dry and you’re shuffled out the door all shiny and pink. Kinda like a car wash.

After that we were given some water, tea, and a snack before our massages, which is the add-on we chose. What can I say, a massage is a massage and it was relaxing and fine. We were soon returned refreshed to our hostel where we did nothing more than have some dinner and relax after a fine day!

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