Kathy Martin’s life story (15)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues with our move to Cyprus
After we actually arrived on 6 May 2006 (this delay was due to the ridiculous amount of time it took to actually finalise the selling of The Finches) we lived with David and Clive, as their new house was not completed. Our furniture container took about a month (arrived 6 June).
One memory that will always stay with us is watching a short, stocky man (one of the delivery men) put our washing machine on his shoulders and walk it into the house. When he reached the front door, the lintel was too low, so he just bent his knees and continued on through! Bearing in mind the fact the washing machine has a concrete block inside this is an incredible feat of strength! Also, Clive asked me if he could borrow our iron, Alistair has always regretted the fact that he missed seeing the look of astonishment on Clive’s face, when I said we did not possess one!
Our estate agent said that it would take 4-6 weeks to complete the sale of The Finches, so we handed in our notices (with great delight from our day jobs, but with mixed feelings from my weight watcher classes!) and finished work on 10 March, expecting to sell by end of March. Well, it took much longer and we eventually were told we could complete on 5 May.
We spent the final few weeks, after we stopped working, being tourists in our own town, visiting Hastings Castle, going up the cliff railway and visiting several other local attractions; things we hadn’t done, as is always the case when one lives in a tourist area!
On 4 May our container of furniture and personal effects left The Finches and we spent the night in cheap (and we have to say rather nasty) hotel!
Having got the money transferred into our bank on Friday, we got on the train to London and spent the night with my brother, Michael. He very kindly took us to Heathrow on Saturday for us to get our flight at 14.00.
When we went to the travel agents we (and the travel agent) were amazed at how expensive our tickets were (£816). We had been advised to get returns, as the immigration officers might not have allowed us in on a one way ticket.
This proved to be a very expensive example of “the wrong advice”. (When we tried to get a refund on the unused half of our tickets, we were told, with no hint of irony, we would have to return to the Hastings travel agency for the rebate! They did not seem to appreciate that once we had flown back to UK, we would have used the part of the ticket we were trying to get refunded!)
As David (our friend) had had a nasty car accident and severely hurt his right arm, he had arranged for us to get a lift from the airport with Sadık, more about him later, so we eventually got to our new home about 23:30 local time; 21:30 UK time.
Clive was back in UK, with his dying father, who eventually died on Monday 8th May, we got the phone call, whilst out celebrating my 53rd birthday in a restaurant in the old harbour of Girne, was Kyrenia in Greek days. David was only with us until Wednesday, during which time he was able to show us around the town, to find the bank etc.
However, he had arranged for Sadık (a very nice local man, who runs a car hire firm and also odd job builder!) to hire us a car for two weeks, whilst we looked into getting our own car.
Sadık, over the years, has been a great help and it was from him that we bought our 5 door, white, Suzuki hatchback, with a year’s road tax, insurance and MOT for £3,000, everyone has said what a good deal we got! Also, we did not have to pay any more to Sadık for the continued use of the hire car! We definitely recommended him to everyone!
Once David went back to UK we spent the time getting to know the town, and surrounding areas, going out on picnics on Sundays to various parts of the Island.
We “signed up” with a company (First Consult) to assist us through the “legalise” of getting our residency sorted out, this was renewable on an annual basis. Once this was obtained we could get a local driving licence, as we could only drive for three months on the UK ones.
The one nightmare was driving into Lefkoşa (was Nicosia) the capital, it has the “green line” dividing the city between the two halves of the island. We had to find the immigration department, in the main police station, marked so clearly on our tourist map, but the roads did NOT match the map!
When our container arrived we had to go to customs, we were directed to the head office and we actually needed the clearing house of the outskirts of town! However, we have to say that once we found this office, the staff could not have been more helpful!
Once we got clearance we had to drive to Gazimağusa (was Famagusta) and find the handling agent, easy in comparison. The container arrived here on Tuesday 6 June (although it had actually arrived in Kibris on 23 May). David and Clive’s furniture and “things” were still in the house, as their new house took a bit longer to finish than they anticipated, it meant we had to cram our meagre belongings in, which was a bit of a squeeze. Luckily we didn’t have as much furniture as they did!
We would both like to say that we felt we had come home! This climate and lifestyle suits us soooooooo much better than the cold and damp of the UK!
The island is fascinating, recently discovered iron and Bronze Age sites. It has been colonised by all the Mediterranean “empires”, all leaving their relics and castles.
During the early 1970’s the Greeks began “ethnic cleansing” of the minority Turkish population, until Turkey sent armed forces to the rescue in 1974, and would likely have gained control of the whole island. But the UN intervened and the island was/is apportioned with the Turkish part being 38% the “north”. The Greek and Turkish residents were given 24 hours to decide which part of the island they wanted to live in, and move accordingly. As a result on each side of the island there is land still “owned” by “the enemy”. As with all similar situations, each side says “they started it”.
In the 1983 the North declared itself to an independent republic. However, it is only recognised by Turkey, to the rest of the world it does not exist!
It is unlikely that a settlement will be reached in the foreseeable future. However, travel between the north and south is allowable, all that has to be done is pass through “checkpoints” at a number of places on the island.
When we arrived the north was still underdeveloped.
- The architecture, climate, flora and fauna (except the big animals) are very similar to Rhodesia.
- Geckos, snakes, wild donkeys, hedgehogs and foxes
- 6 to 8-week “winter” when the temperature drops to 8c at night, but feels colder because the houses are built for the warm weather.
- It usually rains only during the winter; October 2006 we experienced a tropical downpour and thunderstorm!
As the island used to be “British”, the electric plugs are the same as UK, and we drive on the left, although, as mainland Turkey is right-hand drive, most seem to drive along the white line!
All local farm produce is organic, no chemical fertiliser or insect or weed killers are allowed on the island.
Further to “nature’s way”, when the poisonous (but non-fatal) snakes on the island became a nuisance, non-venomous black snakes whose favourite food is poisonous snakes were introduced! We had one on our doorstep, during our first few weeks; it appeared to be slightly over a metre long!
We started to learn Turkish, and have had nothing but help and appreciation from the “locals”. Once the alphabet and pronunciation are grasped, it is a very logical language.
Although there is a large “Ex‑pat” community here, we have largely elected to go “native”. We have a very good friend here, Suzee, who, about 16 years ago hitched her way through Europe to nurse a broken heart. She stopped here, as it was “paradise”. She knows everyone and everything. She is interested and active in all things regarding nature and history.
To answer John Lennon’s question (Another year older and what have you done?). We stopped work, emigrated, obtained residency in a “foreign” country, started the process of buying a flat and started (for the first time this millennium) to enjoy life.