Notes from Old Lapta, Cyprus – People by Ken Dunn

peopleNow that my wife and I have retired we’ve been able to come over to the TRNC much more often that we were ever able to do before, and for months at a time, rather than the flying two to three week visits of the past. As soon as we arrive, usually in darkness, we settle down, briefly test the duty free amber liquid and allow, what we call the ‘Cyprus syndrome’, or what others might know as ‘manyana’, to take over.   Then the following morning, we languidly discuss what we’re going to do for the rest of the day. ‘Not a lot’ is usually the answer. Indeed. And why not?

That is the joy of being in the TRNC together with a mixture of several things not found in the UK. It’s not just the wonderful climate, flora, fauna, the landscape, the culture and incredible history of the island as well as the delightful local Turkish folk which makes it special. It’s also, for me, the humorous situations and circumstances, which anyone can experience and can happen on almost a daily basis.

We have found that there are basically four kinds of folk in the TRNC. First, and the most important majority, are the Turkish locals, bless ‘em all, who continue to endure the rest of us. How they do it I don’t know. Then there are the tourists, ‘oiks’ and others who mostly don’t know which end is up and haven’t even a clue about where they actually are and really don’t care as long as the pool is there and the booze is flowing. After that lot there are the semi-residents, mostly retired folk who spend up to three months in any year over here but live in the UK. They know the island well and the vagaries of everything to do with the TRNC but do their best to conform. Finally there are the ex-pats residents, glad to be away from the UK , taxation and the lousy weather but a resolute mob who suffer many irritating indignities from the petty financial to the often grindingly slow administration of the TRNC, simply because they are ‘foreigners’.

Now, to some of you, that last remark may well be an over simplification of the present situation but I feel that it holds true. You only need to check the charges ex-pats are faced with regarding electricity and water against the charges the locals have to pay. I could go on and into the property quagmire which, Kafka-like, never seems to end, but this is not intended to be a ‘statement’ for any ex-pat or would-be resident.

Let me get back to the main ‘thrust’ (good word that, ‘thrust’) of my original notion and that is there is a great deal of humour in the TRNC, from the locals, holiday makers and ex-pats. Here’s an example, one of many.

There I was, a few years ago, sitting at the alfresco bar of a well known watering hole below Lapta, on the shore of the Med, enjoying a tall, cold, draught Efes bar and reading something. I can’t remember what that was. It was late morning and another beautiful day. There were a few other folk there, Turks and Brits, all enjoying the day with various offspring, some of them splashing around in the pool next to the bar and some, sitting around on loungers, menu in hand, slowly deciding, a major decision, what they would have for lunch. An idyllic situation.

A stranger then appeared, a Brit, well tanned, looking very fit, early 60’s, light brown hair, – lucky man – with a strong West Midlands accent. After he’d ordered a beer we nodded to each other and, as it always seems to happen, we began chatting. The conversation which follows is as accurate as I can remember.

Him –   ‘Oh, yes. Smashin’ place this is.’

Me   –  ‘First time over here?’

Him –   ‘Aye. Had a place in Paphos but sold it. Lookin for summat else. It’s reet grand over eer. Had no idea how nice tis.’

Me –    ‘Ah, so you’re thinking of buying over here?

Him –   ‘Here? Oh, no, no. Not eer. Croatia. Aye, Croatia. That’s the place to go. Tried that last year. Magic, twas. An’cheap. Aye. Very cheap. Oh, aye.’

Me –    ‘So, how long are you staying over here?’

Him –   ‘Oh, not long. A few days. But there’s this problem’.

Me –      ‘Problem? What’s  the problem?’

At this point I thought there might be something substantial going on with him and the Turkish authorities about an exit visa, having come over from the south, or passport problems of some sort or, well, anything.

Him –   ‘Well, the thing is….’

Me –    ‘Yes?’

Him –   ‘I can’t leave until I find summat.’

Me –    ‘Oh? What have you lost?’

Him –   ‘Lost? No, no. I haven’t lost anything. I just can’t find summat’.

Me –    (Slightly confused by this) ‘Ah. I see’. (But I didn’t)

Him –   ‘Been all over the place without finding any.’

Me –      ‘Finding any… what?’

Hm –    (Taking a very deep breath) ‘Well…, Can you…, can you get underpants over here?’

I didn’t have an answer to that….. and still don’t!

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