“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Day 172-178 23rd-29th October 2009.

I decided to go horse riding last Friday, up into the mountains near Bellapais Abbey – beautiful. Unfortunately it’s not something Ant fancied, so I went alone. The views were stunning, the mountain was silent and we saw no-one; it was a very peaceful morning. I only wish I could go again in March time, when the orchids are out and the Almond trees are in full blossom. At this time of year, everything is dry, brown and dusty.
On Saturday Cathy and Derek took us to the theatre to see three comedy plays by a local dramatics group – highly amusing, particularly the sketch about the Medieval Technical Help Desk; reminded me of a distant memory….. oh yeah.. .that was it... when I had a job!
Mon and Tues the weather finally turned and we watched electrical storms out to sea, followed by the first of the rains, and come Wednesday, the roads were covered in water and the potholes in the pavements no longer visible. Wednesday night we went down to China Garden for another pub quiz, and came in at a respectably average position – which was quite some achievement given the amount of alcohol consumed.
Our team members, Malcolm and Anita, came over the next day for something to eat and the use of the furniture... (since they moved here 5 weeks ago, their belongings still have not arrived. They are told their container is on the docks in Mersin, Turkey, where the handlers have gone on strike! Not good for them, but the locals here are not surprised.. Unfortunately it sounds typical of Northern Cyprus, so who knows how long they will be squatting in their own home).

Friday, 23 October 2009

Day 164-171 –15th–22nd October 2009 - Cyprus

Another mixed bag of action this week (including a funny five minutes where we contemplated a 3 day trip to Syria or Israel), but pleased to report that the sun is still shining, the mercury still rises to 30 degrees each day and the sea is still warmer than the swimming pool. Hurrah!
Went for a meal at the China Garden and met the couple that bought Cath and Derek’s old house here on the island (Anita and Malcolm). The owner, Tariq, runs a quiz night once a month and so Malcolm, Anita, Me, Ant, Derek and Cath have now formed a new team and will be returning next week for our first crack at Tariq’s prize bottle of wine.
Went to Aligadi beach (another Turtle protection zone) and got bashed about in the waves for a while before sinking a few beers in the beach bar. Then yesterday, Cathy and Derek drove us up the mountains and along the ridge where we saw an abandoned T42 army tank concreted into the mountainside by the Turkish. We lunched at the Kozan restaurant and picnic area almost half way down the mountain and confirmed with the owner that he is more than happy for us to return with Bee and stay over for a couple of nights – very peaceful place, set in pine forests, with great local food (mainly meses and chicken). Then we went on to ‘Mavi Kosk’ (Blue House), which is a lavish summerhouse inside a Turkish Army camp and steeped in rumours. Our guide told us that Paulo Paolides, (a Greek-Italian gun smuggler, mafia colleague and lawyer to the Archbishop) lived there and was responsible for the massacre of 150 Turkish Cypriots during the divides. How true the guide’s tales were about items in the house was debatable, but the tour was interesting and the decor remained as it was in the 1950’s, right down to the pink bathroom suite and psychedelic tiling!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Day 157-163, 8th- 14th October. Both sides of Cyprus

This last week has been crammed full of allsorts; football matches, darts games and the pub quiz at the Five-Fingers restaurant followed by card games until til 3am. But the most notable was a trip to the South and Greek side of the island, (named by some here as the ‘dark side’).
We set off Sunday lunchtime, with pub-quiz hangovers and two maps of the island (one with town names written in Turkish and one in Greek). We reached the military base border crossing at Pyla shortly after 2pm and had absolutely no trouble in passing through. In fact the officer at the Greek crossing was surprisingly friendly and very impressed with Bee’s zero-breakdown record.
We spent a very entertaining afternoon and evening chatting and giggling with Martin and Bernice (friends of Ant’s) who were visiting the island on holiday and staying not far from Larnaca.
After a noisy night spent in the van outside their apartment, Bernice kindly made us breakfast and gave us a map and directions to the tourist beach. Two heavy nights of vino and not a lot of sleep were talking their toll, so when we pulled up at the beach and watched a cat crapping in the sand, we both looked at each other and agreed to head back north and explore the South at a later date.
We reached the same Pyla border crossing around 930am and breezed through the Greek barriers. We pulled up at the Turkish gates to get our passport slips stamped again, and expected to have Bee checked over and our belongings riffled through, but to our surprise this didn’t happen. They simply asked for her insurance papers. No problem. We handed over the expensive insurance we had been forced to purchase at the Girne port on entry to Northern Cyprus and waited. Something wasn’t right. I stepped out of the van and asked the customs girl what the problem was. A man took the paperwork from her and started questioning his colleagues. He returned and said that we had to buy more insurance. He said that this cover note wasn’t valid because it was hand written and not printed by a computer! I explained where we had got it from and that it was the Girne port customs team who had sold it to us and therefore his colleagues. He disappeared with the paper to make some enquiries, whilst the girl telephoned her boss. We were asked to pull over to allow other traffic through and told to wait until her boss had returned her call. It seemed to us to simply be a rouse to get us to line their pockets with more money for yet another worthless bit of paper. So we waited. After about half an hour, Ant strode back to the kiosk with a determined look on his face and came back with the passports, the cover note and a nod from the officer to proceed; Hurrah! Bloody Turkish time wasters. Grrrrrr. Maybe we won’t be going south again for a while. We rewarded ourselves that evening with a roast chicken and all the trimmings. Our first since leaving England.

By the way - can anyone answer either of these questions for us...
1) A man and wife had 5 children, half of them were boys, how is this possible?
2) and also, how is it possible to get a cold in 30 degree heat?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Day 156 – 7th October, Wednesday. Girne.

Went to Girne market in the morning; best known for its colourful stands crammed with fresh fruit and vegetables, some I had never seen before and couldn’t even name.
Spent the evening swatting up for Saturday’s pub quiz with a couple of games of Trivial Pursuit.

Day 155 – 6th October, Tuesday. Girne.

Zeytinlik Olive Festival is organised by the Kyrenia Municipality and Zeytinlik Village Headman every year in October and Cathy’s line dancing club were dancing along with a group of traditional Polish dancers, a Dutch group in clogs and a number of others. This week long festival is very important as it consists of a series of cultural, artistic and social events representing the Turkish Cypriots and celebrating the Olive harvest, so there were many stalls selling local produce (olives, muffins, Halloumi, wine), local ‘fast food’ and crafts, as well as a live, Cypriot band called ‘SOS’.

Day 154 – 5th October, Monday. Iskele and Girne.

Tony and Ange took us into Iskele and we had breakfast (chicken kebabs!) at in a local cafe before heading back to Girne where all the Tilletts had their hair cut by the visiting hairdresser. Ant’s wasn’t short I might add, but short enough that anyone would have thought a sulky Samson had entered the room! Looks way better and should at least stop me from resorting to the scissors-in-the-sleep treatment for a while.
Cathy was off out to line dancing rehearsals (big performance at a village festival on Tuesday) so, Ant, Derek and I had a couple of beers in the China Garden waiting for our takeaway. Which incidentally is way more expensive than in the UK – particularly as Pork is not common in a Muslim country.

Day 153 – 4th October, Sunday. Bogaz.

I spent the entire day in recovery, whilst the boys watched endless football games glued to the sofas.
Mehmet came round in the evening with a pizza to invite us all to a party at his house on Monday night. The way I felt all day, there’s no way I could go through it all again!

Day 152 – 3rd October, Saturday. Chateaux Lambousa Market and Bogaz.

Drove over to Tony and Ange’s place in Bogaz (west coast) stopping at Le Marda shopping centre en route. Ant had forewarned me that the couple like a bit of a drink – but nothing could have prepared me for the day and night ahead! We started around their pool in mid afternoon and finished sometime during the night in a Turkish bar in Bogaz. (I think!)
I can recall Ange’s gorgeous spag bol, swimming in the dark, going to the harbour for a drink and then moving on and having a few more drinks, a boogie and watching Ant doing the caterpillar (impressively forwards and backwards I hasten to add) on the floor of Hassan’s bar in the village! Then the Raki was drunk and after that it all gets a bit hazy. Pictured - Me, Hassan and the lethal glass of Raki!!!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Day 150/1 – 1st & 2nd October. Back to Girne.

Yet another gloriously sunny day – does it ever rain here?. I wasn’t feeling too great. Not sure if it was the heat, the amount of insect poison coursing through my veins or the car journey, but it felt like my brain was pounding my forehead trying to get out and making me dizzy. We made it back to the house for lunchtime and chilled out.

Day 149 – 30th September, Wednesday. The Karpaz.

Another beautiful day with clear skies and warm sunshine. Ant and I set off in Cathy and Derek’s car headed for the very tip of the island in search of turtles (Bee would certainly have taken twice as long on the deeply potholed gravel tracks). We had been told we were too late to see them laying eggs or hatching in the sands, but that we may be lucky enough to catch the babies in the water if we went to Golden Beach on the southern coast of the peninsula. The water was definitely clear enough to see everything that was swimming in it, but unfortunately we didn’t see any baby turtles. We did see the wild Karpaz donkeys though; quite a few of them, along with plenty of long-eared sheep and goats. It’s a shame the dispute over the land in Cyprus is not yet resolved. If something doesn’t change soon, I fear it will be the wildlife that suffers most, due to the litter that is not being collected in some areas along the coast.

Day 147 – 28th September, Monday

Washing machine has had a minor service (filter cleared and trial economy cycle tested) and all looks good. (Phew!) The sun is scorching again, so will leave the vans next set of cleaning until a cooler day.

Day 148 – 29th September, Tuesday. The Karpaz.

Dropped the dogs off at the kennels (and met Morgan their enormous hound) and set off for the Karpaz soon afterwards. We stopped at the ruins of Kantara Castle on the top of the mountain on the way there, which according to records was captured by Richard The Lionheart in 1191.
We continued driving east along the ‘pan-handle’ and reached the Balci Plaza by late afternoon (pictured). A lovely apartment looking out to sea, owned by a very hospitable guy who had spent many years living in the UK, but had returned to Cyprus some years ago.We had our first true Turkish meal in his restaurant that evening, sampling many hot and cold dishes including octopus and fried liver. Suitably stuffed, we waddled back to our balcony and watched the geckos fighting and feeding around us. Fantastic.

Day 146 – 27th September, Sunday.

Ant hoovered out the front of the van and I decided to wash the seat cushion cover and the two front curtains; but instead only managed to rip them all the way down one side, break the washing machine and cover Cathy’s kitchen floor in water! Not good. In the evening we caught a coach to The’ Moon over the Water’ for a hot buffet meal followed by line dancing and entertainment from singer ‘Mr. Rodeo’. We were also bowled over when Tony (pictured) and Angie turned up, (good friends of Ants who moved out here a couple of years ago).

Day 145 – 26th September, Saturday.

I slept in late, after we both spent considerable time in the early hours of the morning chasing two mosquitoes around the room – they are so much easier to kill in a small space than they are in a large room – as soon as you caught sight of one it would fly towards the curtains making it impossible to see, or it’s partner-in-crime would come flying at you from a different direction and distract you. After killing one on the window, we gave up on the second and tried to get back to sleep. I did manage to catch up on some sleep in the afternoon whilst Ant and his Dad went to the pub to watch the football.

Day 144 – 25th September, Friday.

Since last night didn’t end until 3:15am this morning, we spent most of the day lazing around. Derek went to his wood carving club and I cleaned out Bee’s cupboards and the fridge before going out to an English restaurant with friends in the evening for a lovely meal and a sort-of early night.
The restaurant owner had a large collection of books for sale, so we perused the shelves and picked up five books to add to our growing collection, (Swapping on the way home should no longer be a problem).