Kathy Martin’s life story (20)
By Kathy Martin…
My life story continues with our life in Cyprus
Written at end of September 2007
Food in general
We could get anything we wanted at any time (if we were prepared to pay the price, and went to the appropriate shops/restaurants). Pork products are becoming available in many “tourist” cafes and shops. (Kibris is a Muslim country; strict Muslims are not even allowed to touch pork). We buy bacon.
Our local supermarket sells spit roasted whole chickens at between 8 and 11 YTL (£4-ish).
This will do us for 2 or 3 meals. It also sells (local) brandy at YTL7.00 (£3) a litre! Fruit and veg are seasonal, but really tasty! The waters around here have been “fished out” commercially, but there are still a number of fishing fleets, which sell to the local shops and restaurants.
Our Turkish is now basic (very basic) conversational and we can conduct our shopping and pleasantries in Turkish. The trouble is that now we have a number of stock phrases when we speak, we are often bombarded with a reply of which we can only understand/pick out a few words! We are now actually hearing Turkish and can pick up the gist of some of the conversations going on around us.
We know a lot of Turks, but we have only have one Turkish “arkadaş”. (Hüseyin, Suzee’s partner). Turks still differentiate between “friend” and “acquaintance”. To have a Turk call you an “arkadaş”, it means, “you are my friend and, if necessary, I will die for you”.
The downside to living here?
Well, of course we miss Sasha, Jon and Alex (especially missing seeing him growing up into a school going little boy!) and the insects, which necessitate us using mosquito coils at night to avoid being bitten too badly! But these are outweighed by the plusses.
Are we happy? YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Rakı Safari (2) written 3rd December 2007
There is a proverb in English “you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”.
Translated into Turkish it reads “you can take an Alistair to rakı, then sit back and let nature take it’s course.”
A little while ago, in conversation with landlord Dave, he said that he like rakı with a dash of Angostura bitters, but he could not find any in his area. We had bought out an “in use” bottle and a new one, as well, from the UK.
The next time we went to pay the rent we took our “new” bottle and a small bottle of rakı as a present.
Dave was right, it tasted delicious, especially with a mouthful of beer as a “chaser”! The chaser was compulsory, but it put a new flavour to the beer!
Dave also introduced us to figs and almonds. A 3-4 mm slice of dried fig is split open horizontally and an almond is quartered and inserted into the fig as a sandwich. Now that really is delicious!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Written 12 May 2008
We have now been here for two years, we arrived late evening on 6th May 2006. Our major regret is that we are now out of short and economic travelling time and distance from Jon, Sasha & Alex. Apart from this, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Having left Rhodesia (a country not recognised by the rest of the world) as refugees we planned our retirement to be on the mainland of a country that is recognised by the rest of the world. So here we are on an island, in a country, that is only recognised by Turkey!
The way of life here makes the concept of the Spanish “manyana” positively urgent! Anything promised “this week” means it is likely to be done within a month, if not, probably (but not certainly) within twelve months! Having said that, our flat is nearing completion.
We should be in well before the contracted completion date (Sept 14th). Indeed, we hope to be in within a month or so. Once we are in and happy with everything we will pay our final payment and own outright our first “home”, in 32 years.
We could get by in most situations without speaking Turkish. Waiters know “two beers please” (“iki bira lütfen”), “two more beers please” (“iki bira daha lütfen”), and then the all important “where is the toilet, please?” (“tuvalet nerede lütfen”?), but we feel it is courteous to speak “native”.
We can’t (yet) discuss social or political topics in Turkish, but we can chat about the weather and exchange pleasantries about dress, hairstyles etc. One advantage of speaking Turkish is prices! With the exception of bar tariffs, menus and supermarket goods, few items have price displayed. We had to buy a new tyre for our car recently. This was YTL 100.00, but because we spoke Turkish and are “residents”, we got it for YTL 90.00!
Both years, we rented in Çatalköy, we have had the same gardener in to “do” the garden. He does not speak English but with the help of our English/Turkish phrasebook and dictionary Alistair “converses” with him. He is a villager and when he has seen us outside has popped in for coffee or water. We get the impression that he cannot read, as when Alistair points to a word in the dictionary he recognises the first letter, but not the word. This method of “conversing” sounds quaint, but after a while becomes hard work! However, from him (and another Turkish acquaintances) we have been told that we have “saygı” (respect and/or honour) for our efforts.
At “our” supermarket there is a new checkout girl whose English extends to: “sorry, I don’t speak English”. This is not a problem for us, but while she was learning she must have noticed that Alistair occasionally bought cigarette papers. On her first day “solo” with us she went rushing off to the tobacco counter and came back with some papers! She looked so pleased with herself that we bought them (although not really needed)!
We now have two “paydays” a month. One is Alistair’s Civil Service pension and our interest day on our 30-day savings account. Although we are paying £300.00 a month rent, we can still afford to eat out twice a week and live a very comfortable lifestyle. Once we move into our flat our monthly “ground rent” (including upkeep of a communal swimming pool) will decrease to £40.00 a month, (June 2016 still £40.00 a month) so we will be considerably better off. Had we remained in UK (or retired to Spain, our original retirement destination) we could not have afforded our current lifestyle.
If I have one other regret, other than that of missing Sasha, Jon and Alex, it is that I have not been able to maintain my weight loss, achieved in UK. Due to my liking of the local beer “Efes” (a lager) my weight has somewhat increased! So much so, that on our trip to the UK at end of June, will be visiting several clothes shops to increase my wardrobe, as for some inexplicable reason most of my dresses etc have shrunk whilst hanging up!
We have just experienced the “driest winter for 99 years.” The entire island has been declared a disaster/drought area. Some of the reservoirs are empty, most only 8 or 9% full. 80% of crop seeds have failed to germinate. Both the Greek and Turkish sides of the island are importing water from their respective “motherlands.” Ironically, this may bring about an economic and possible political settlement to the island, as it cheaper for the Greeks to import from Turkey.
There is little crime here. If there were 1,001 police, 1,000 would be overworked dealing with road traffic accidents and offences, the other one with other crime, and be bored at work! However, this may change in the future. A great deal of land is being sold for commercial and residential developments. While this enables the present generation to ride around in luxury cars and 4 x 4s, the next generation will not have anything to inherit.