Now that Cyprus is behind me I look back at some of its quirks and smile. They were sometimes confusing and sometimes frustrating but oftentimes I would look at them and secretly be jealous of this island life.
Here are just some of the quirks and funny moments I had while there.
- Turkish coffee is called Greek coffee. People on both sides will try to tell you that there is a difference between them. There isn’t. The reason for the different names is political.
- I once had a prescription sent to me by post. After weeks of waiting (they had forgotten to put the note in the mailbox), they said the local pharmacist with whom they worked had to approve the release of the package and that he only worked on Wednesdays. A few days later I came back with all of the documentation he required. But he wasn’t there, because he only works with the post office once a week. So that I wouldn’t have to come back into the city just for that, the local customs manager in the post office sent one of her team to the pharmacists place of work so he could sign off on it.
- Buildings don’t always have numbers. But they all have names. So when giving you an address, Cypriots will often tell you the building name instead of the exact address.
- Cypriots don’t hitchhike, but if you do hitchhike they will generally stop for you. One of my generous drivers once told me about his sheep. I recognized the sheep farm he was talking about and showed him selfies I had taken with the sheep in his background. If you think the world is small, come to Cyprus and you’ll realize just how small.
- Traffic lights. Go to a crosswalk (as a pedestrian) and try to find the traffic light that tells you when to cross and when to wait. 9 times out of 10 you won’t find it. You know why? Because they aren’t there. So how do you know when to cross as a pedestrian? You look around and gauge when is the least likely time you’ll be run over based on the traffic patterns. Here is why this is tricky. Reason number one is that Cypriots are not the best drivers. Keep in mind I’m trying to stay polite as I say this, so that says a lot. Reason number two is that if you are from a country where people drive on the right side of the road (aka most countries in the world) you need to remember that people here drive on the left side. So gauging the traffic patterns can be confusing.
- Bringing me to another point about the roads. People drive on the left side. The island is Greek and Turkish. In both these countries people drive on the right side. So why do the Cypriots drive on the left? Because for a few decades the island was under British rule. Really.
- In Limassol there is a part of town that is under British law. You are driving up a street and without any signs, notifications, barriers, etc. you all of a sudden go from being under Cypriot law to British law. This change in ruling law happens in the middle of a residential area. I kid you not.
All in all, with all its quirks it’s a place I look forward to visiting again.