Kathy Martin’s life story (19)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues with our life in Cyprus
Written at end of September 2007
We have recently been on another “rakı safari” with Dave, our landlord. To explain, these started a few months ago when he came to our/his house to give the palm tree a “haircut”. Dave is 73 years old, but has a mental age of 12, so Alistair gets on very well with him!
The “haircut” was very hard work, but with the help of his Dave’s son Dilek and Alistair’s it only took a couple of hours. Around mid-day Dave suggested that we all (in separate cars) went to a nearby beach bar for a swim and a beer. This was fine for the two older men. Dave had Dilek as his driver and Alistair had me.
After a swim and a couple of beers, Dave asked Alistair if he liked rakı, (Alistair’s response “Is the Pope a Catholic?” was not immediately understood as “YES”). Rakı is a locally produced aniseed flavoured drink, not as strongly flavoured as Pastis 51 or Ricard, but with an ABV of 46%. When Dave ordered, Alistair heard the Turkish word for “bottle”. Sure enough, a 35cl bottle soon appeared, along with a jug of iced water! The jug of iced water was replaced a number of times during the afternoon. It was getting dark when I drove Alistair home where he had a gentle nap for a couple of hours!
Dave had enjoyed himself, so much, that he was more than willing to have a repeat performance.
So the next time he suggested a “Rakı Safari”, we went to pick up Dave from a garage/service station a few miles away from his house (his house is about 45 minute drive from our house). This time we went to the Famağusta/Gazi Mağusa area on the south-east side of the island (a further 45 minute drive). When swimming, Dave and Alistair went in together, and only when back at the table was I allowed to go for a swim! This time two x 35cl bottles of rakı were consumed and again I drove back!
Dave has lived in UK for (depending on amount of beer/rakı consumed, for 24 years of which he was under drink/drive ban for total of 20 years, or 20 years of which he was banned for 16). While his English is very good, it is fairly hard to understand at the best of times.
On the journey back, Dave talked non-stop, but was unintelligible, even to Alistair! His conversation degenerated into “Bloody Greeks………….bastards………..kill them”! He was dropped off at the garage, although I said that we would take him home and he could collect his car the following day. Dave assured us that he would be OK, as he only had a couple of miles to go along country lanes.
When we went to pay the rent for August, Dave said that he would like another day out, but he was not allowed to drive on these occasions! Also, in September, the air and sea temperatures drop. So Alistair said that we would pay the September rent early and we would again go to the Famağusta/Gazi Mağusa area. My thoughts at this suggestion are not on record!
We had a day very similar to the one described above. During the day Dave told us that Norag (his wife) had noticed a dent in their car the day after his return from the garage on the last occasion.
Dave said that it had “obviously” been hit while it had been parked “at the garage”. We don’t think that his driving ban is a police affair, but he has promised to come to our side of the island for his next day out. We assume that he will have a “driver”. When this happens the long-suffering Kathy may have a chance to quench her thirst with something that as not a clear, alcohol free liquid!
The Turks respect age and Alistair gets a lot of respect! Seriously, the “village” Turks have a ritual that they go through when they meet an “elder”. It is difficult to describe, in print, but Alistair has had it from each of (landlord) Dave’s children and grandchildren. The child takes the adult’s hand and puts it to their forehead, we assume, to transfer knowledge.
Another example of how the Turks respect the “aged” was witnessed by us in the bank i.e. an elderly gentleman came in and two younger men leapt from their chairs to offer him their seat, Alistair was a bit pleased that they had not done the same for him, he obviously looks too young!
We have been through a very hot summer. There has been a heat wave, and our air conditioner has been very welcome! Apart from the air conditioner we have more methods of keeping cool:
- internal:- cold lager
- external:– swimming; either (usually) in the sea or at a friend’s pool. One of the times we were in the pool, the water temperature was 33c, blood temperature is 36.9c (I think).
We are now in autumn, the air temperature is hovering around just under 30c, and in a few months will drop to a chilly 8c, when for a couple of months, we will be wearing warm clothes and have our gas fire on.
Don’t laugh, houses are built with high ceilings and stone floors designed for coolness during the other 10 months of the year.
When we arrived we found a local radio station that broadcasts mainly in English. Some of the “spontaneous” conversations sound like they are being read from a script and that the DJ/announcer does not have English as a first language. Nevertheless it is easy listening. The music library used is very limited; we could almost set the minute hands of our watches by the music being played. Recently they may have had a capital injection, or more likely, listeners sent in CDs.
We did the same at our local beach bar. The owner liked Sting, and so Sting cds were the only ones played. We gave the waiters some cds. These were some of the “freebies” we had collected from various newspapers before emigrating. We have the eternal gratitude of the waiters and regulars, most of whom previously liked Sting!
Talking of the beach bar, we got talking with a new waiter, and asked his name. This was one evening when we went there to watch the sun set, have a beer and a meal. He said Sanan in Turkish, but as he was a Kurd, his born name is Rodi. Wondering if these names meant anything in Kurdish and/or Turkish, he explained that Rodi meant “he who has seen the sun”, but that the Turkish government has banned the use of Kurdish names, and the use (written or oral) of the Kurdish language. So he had to take a Turkish name. It appears that the Kurds are in a similar position to the Basques in Spain. Kurdistan is the most eastern province of Turkey and is fiercely independent.
Still on the subject of the beach bar, we usually eat out at least once a week (now Alistair’s pension has kicked in).
This is either at
- the beach bar
- Shiraz (in Girne)
- Riaz’s Happy Valley, which is a very good Indian restaurant in the village
- The China Garden, an excellent (as the name implies) Chinese restaurant
- But our favourite is Leman in our village of Çatalköy
This is a Turkish (I hesitate to describe it as a restaurant) place. We eat at tables outside (in summer) or inside in winter. Leman is a Turkish woman of an indeterminate age, and cannot speak English except “hello” and “thank you”, but has a 12-year-old daughter April who speaks excellent English.
We understand that Mr Leman was “bad” and “beat up” Leman and April, so they left home and started this establishment. When we first went there, the tables were on a thin layer of gravel, now she has a paved patio area. As April is at school during the day, Leman can only open in the evening. The menu is Turkish and our favourite is lahmucun. This is a type of pizza. The bread is unleavened, and although the size of a dinner plate is pancake (Pancake Tuesday type) thin. On top is a layer of lamb mince and herbs and sauce. Alistair has his with chilli. Two of these and two beers used to total YTL9, but now the beers have increased by YTL1 each, so the total has shot up to YTL11! (about £4)