Kathy Martin’s life story (16)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues with our life in Cyprus
19 August 2006 was Alistair’s 59th birthday and we went out for a meal at a nearby restaurant, the Bella Vista (no longer open as I write this in 2016).
This restaurant provided transport to and from home, so we were both able to have drinks without worrying about drink-driving. We made the “mistake” of saying it was Alistair’s birthday when we went there earlier in the week for a beer and make the table booking. We had a splendid meal with a bottle of wine. They produced a chocolate birthday cake with a couple of candles!
Delicious, he was then “forced” to have a number of brandies (free for the “birthday boy”)…………..It seemed to be very dark, when we were dropped back at our house!
Alistair decided to play a PlayStation2 game and proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that when drunk one should NOT be in charge of a car, as the character was taken on a very perilous ride, bouncing off walls etc!
We went round again the next day for a beer and to thank the Turkish staff for all the trouble that they went to………….Turks don’t celebrate birthdays as a rule.
But the best birthday present was given to Alistair, during a telephone call earlier in the day from Sasha. She, Jon and Alex will be coming out for a week starting 10th November. They have hired a “people carrier” (Renault Espace type car and rented a villa in Lapta, near Girne (Greek Kyrenia) and will be flying to Larnaca (in Greek Cyprus). We really looked forward to their visit.
In July 2005, we started the process of buying a one-bedroom flat; the block to be completed in approximately 2 years. We could possibly get an existing flat slightly cheaper, but most “old” properties, usually, require renovation, especially with plumbing and electrics. We feel that to walk into a “new” flat with guarantee etc, is worth waiting for.
The flat will be north-south facing and we will have a view of the mountains from the back. It is about 3 miles from where we are at present, nearer to Girne (the area “capital”).
There is a Turkish (called Leman) restaurant in Çatalköy; it has 3 tables outside under a framework of grapevines. In 2006-8 we went there, about once a week. There, we had 2 beers (YTL3 each) and two “Lahmucuns” (YTL1.50 each) plus a lira tip, so we ate out for 10 Yeni (new) Turkish Lira (YTL) (about £3.50 then).
Lahmucun is rather like a pizza, approx 12 inches in diameter. The base is unleavened bread (like pitta). Alistair had his minced meat spicy and I had a plain one. The proprietess, Leman, had enough English to say “hello, good-bye and thank you”. Her 11 year old daughter (April) was learning English at school, which she wanted to improve; we wanted to learn/improve our Turkish, so we had long conversations with April.
On one occasion, we understood that the police (or some other official organisation) visited, and Leman was told she was no longer allowed to sell alcohol (apparently beer is allowed). We had had our usual, plus a bowl of chips and salad and 2 beers each. When it came time to go Alistair was handed a bottle of whisky (“free to “Ali”), as it could not be sold. The approximate cost would be around YTL5 in the shop, so we paid YTL5 (not necessary, but as a matter of principle). So, for YTL20 (around £7) we had had a meal, 2 beers each and a bottle of whisky!
We had decided very early on that we would not join the Ex-pat groups, but with these Turkish “friends” we do not need them.
Something else we learned, almost from day one, was the driving was appalling.
All local drivers attend an intensive and comprehensive driving course before getting a licence. Even the slowest witted complete this within about ten minutes.
They learn (and practice) the following
- Any vehicle travelling at a slower speed in front must (and this is compulsory) be overtaken.
- Any vehicle travelling towards you is an optical illusion and thus can be disregarded.
- The most useless device invented by man is the spring that keeps the accelerator off the floor.
- The second most useless device invented by man is the braking system.
- The most useful device invented by man is the car horn.
- As entertainment in Kıbrıs is somewhat limited, car manufacturers have introduced a pretty flashing light system for the amusement of nearby motorists and pedestrians. On rare occasions these can show the actual intentions of the driver!
If the “learner” can answer all of the above correctly, there is apparently no need for a “road test”.
- Drive with the neck of an owl and the eyes of a chameleon.
- Expect to be overtaken even if signalling to turn right, or “undertaken” when signalling to turn left!
- The idea of “Concord” was conceived after a visit to Kibris and by scientists and engineers who thought that it might be possible to design an aircraft which could go nearly as fast as a Kibris taxi.
Written in October 2006
We have obtained official residency and Turkish driving licences. We have paid the first £6,000 towards a brand new flat, total cost £27,000, which hasn’t started to be built yet, but hope it will be ready in 18-24 months. It will be the second phase of a site that has the first units built, but not finished, so we have been able to see inside a one-bedroom flat, like the one we will have. It will be small, but perfectly adequate for our needs. It is only about five minutes drive away from Girne, the capital of this part of Cyprus.
Our “rainy” season will start soon, usually around mid October. However, the other day we had some rain, a tropical storm, lasting about 15 minutes, followed by sunshine, we never thought we would be so pleased to see rain!
Are there drawbacks to living here? Yes, even the biblical Garden of Eden had a snake!
- Firstly, the plumbing, either (or both) due to the narrow gauge pipes and/or septic tanks, toilet paper cannot be flushed. But, luckily, we have garbage collections twice a week, so the carrier bag, goes from the bin by the loo, into the dustbin, without too much trouble!
- Occasional power cuts, one of which lasted for 11 hours! The power stations are relics from British rule and as such are old and inefficient. (Kibris is only recognised by Turkey and replacement will be very expensive). Also, the population has grown considerably since the British left therefore demand has outstripped supply.
- Driving: We were able to buy ourselves a nice little car, however, as you will have seen above, driving in Cyprus/Kibris is an interesting experience! We have already seen a car accident and several near misses!
But, despite the above we have settled into our new way of life and panic attacks (for both of us) have become a thing of the past. We manage to fill our days in a variety of ways, either, painting (me), doing jigsaw puzzles (Alistair), playing scrabble, reading, visiting internet café, socialising etc, etc!
We are counting down the days to when Sasha, Jon and Alex (3 at Christmas) come to see us (November 10 for one week). They have hired a villa in Lapta, about 16 miles from us, so we will be staying with them! We are getting very excited about seeing them.