Michelle and Charlie's Around the World Trip 2004-2005 travel blog

Untouched since '74, the green zone between the two parts of Cyprus

the military post on the edge of the UN green zone

can you guess which side is Turkish?

 

So its stick and the wrong side of the road. Let Michelle...


We had a long (10 hour) layover in Cyprus. Well long for a layover, short for a stay. We rented a car which sounded like a great idea at first, but then we realized that it is a manual, which would be all right, but it is driven on the other side of the road than we are used to. So I made Michelle to drive. [Yes, I had to drive on the left side and shift with my left hand. It was quite a challenge. Charlie kept gently warning that I was drifting too far to the left. Well, gently at first - by the end of the day it was a little more urgent since I apparently was close to clipping the mirror. We laughed about it...later - Michelle]. Add to these that we were still very sleepy and that we had maps that depicted the whole island smaller than 10 inches..... So we drove first to the capitol, Nicosia. It is also known as Lefkosia and you'd better know it both ways, too, because it might be written on the signs either way (L is more frequent). The reason is because Nikosia is the last divided capitol left. My history is a bit rusty on this, and this is the best I can give to you. Cyprus had a wealthier Greek majority and poorer Turkish minority. When the number of atrocities increased against the Turks instead of applying political pressure in 1974 the Turkish army moved in. After the ensuing fight the Northern part of the island became Turkish, the southern 2/3 stayed under the control of the original government. This was accompanied by the same, albeit smaller scale movement of population that happened when India and Pakistan separated. Now the northern part is in lot worse shape and is not recognized by any country besides of Turkey. After air tight separation between the parts for decades lately there is even a chance of getting over to northern part of the island and there was a brief discussion about reunification before the Greek part joined the EU, but those failed when the results of the popular vote came in. Long talk, but... So Nicosia is still cut into two, with a few city block wide UN administered "green zone" between. We could peek through a hole at a road block. [It was guarded by a 12 year old with a machine gun and a sign that said do not take pictures of the other side. Guess who snuck in a picture when the guard wasn't looking? - Michelle] It is a terrifying view of a street untouched since the war ended. It is doubly heart wrenching after spending a short time in Berlin a few days earlier.

We had plans where to go in the afternoon, but the poor sleeps that we got for the previous 3 nights caught up with us and we ended up sleeping in a parking lot in the car for the most part of the afternoon. Then a wild goose chase of trying to find a gas station that was open in Larnaca at 8 PM to gas the car up and we were at the airport again. It was full beyond capacity with sun burnt British package tourists. At our gate there was a large group of young men who were constantly teasing each other and could not stop smiling and laughing. They were our first introduction to the Egyptians- we loved them.



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