Thursday, March 27, 2008

To market, to market...

Another note from Pam as she ventures out into the streets of Cyprus...

I was looking for the supermarket. I had been assured the other shops I needed are just a few meters away from the supermarket. On the map, the supermarket street is marked as a wide avenue, neither far nor harrowing.

It was both! A potholed, mostly unposted, old street on a hill where nothing was where it was supposed to be. I kept going back to the beginning, certain I would get it on the next try! I am, after all, a geographer.

Wrong!!! Cars were parked facing all four directions on both sides of the street or no side at all. Large Lorries came down at me holding down their horns, oblivious to the fact that there was no place for me to go. At one point I was backing up so fast in sheer terror that I paid no notice to what the people behind me were doing!

It was after this that I decided to go back and start over one last time. That meant crossing traffic (a vast understatement) and trying to go ‘round the block and back down the hill.

On the corner of the first block in was, lo and behold, a stationery store. We had been searching for one since our arrival and here it was. Knowing I would never find it again, I hadn’t the slightest notion where I was, I decided to take advantage of fate’s largesse.

There was a group of a dozen or so young and middle-aged men standing around the entrance, apparently arguing, perhaps about football or politics, but I have been here long enough to know that it is part of their conversational behavior, no matter what the subject is – hands and arms and head movements, and eye rolls, are as important as the words. I held my head high and marched through the group in my best Kathryn Hepburn style.

One of the men, obviously the owner, followed me into the store. He spoke no English, I no Greek, but we managed to find what Jim needed.

Then, feeling daring after this unexpected success, I asked him where the supermarket was. Up went the eyebrows, the palms went up with the shoulders. I read the body as sign language for “What are you talking about?”

So, I used my own body language. I pushed an imaginary shopping cart, took things off shelves, and so on.

A little glimmer on his face. Encouraged, I said that universal word, “Post,” because the post office, I’d been told, is across from the supermarket.

His eyes shine. He claps his hands and runs out to tell the others. They nod, they chatter and grin. Then they walk me back to the car, carrying my parcel, holding my door open, as they repeat and repeat, “Is OK, is OK.”

“Post,” I love that word!

They help me back out with all the gestures they can think of. . .then literally walk me in my car back to that dreaded street. . .My heart starts pounding. No, I have ten Greek men protecting me. They stand in the road stopping traffic both ways by standing there in the middle of the street. They point me on my way with ruffles and flourishes. They grin. I grin. Life is good!

But I will stay off dragon street as much as I can.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A note from Pam...

This is a journal that I meant to begin a week or perhaps even a month before we left on our three month adventure. I now find myself somewhat shamefacedly, starting a week after our arrival.

I would like to start this journal at the beginning as all good books begin. That is impossible in this case as the true beginnings lies somewhere between the Neolithic beginnings of the inhabitants, and the time that my husband first set foot on Cyprus in 1952. It was then occupied by the English and a hot spot of the cold war. Somewhere along the line he decided we should return to work on the follow-up book to Legerdemain and to show me the Island. We had been thinking about it for sometime- the costs in money, time, and health when we got this wonderful e-mail from Cyprus Sue suggesting a house exchange, their home in Paphos for ours in Williamsburg during the month of May.

We leapt at it!!!

Then come the questions: How to manage three months there. We surfed the net in an effort to find an affordable home in a good Location, and surfed, and surfed….

Again Cyprus Sue to our rescue! Would we be interested in their next door neighbor’s smaller unit? The people wouldn’t be using it in March and April And probably wouldn’t charge much. At first some hesitation on our part, How much was “much”? their “much” to our “much”. Villas nearby were renting for 2000 pounds a week. TOO MUCH.

Aha! Their “not much” was indeed our “not much”. 150 Cypriot pounds a month which came to about $450 for the two months AND we got the use of Sue’s second car in May.

We are again Leaping.

Now tickets… very expensive. Approximately $10,000 each for business Class. Enter Mileage plus.. 2 business class tickets on Lufthansa.. This one was more of an actual bound that a mere leap.

Now the biggest question was driving British style with a stick on the Left side where I had just had rotary cuff surgery. Turns out to be not as much a problem as we had thought; the rate change not costing nearly as much as in England.

We are back to leaping!... but there was still much to be dome before hand.

The first was medical… between us we use some 42 prescriptions, some twice a day for three months and many controlled substances. A challenge! Also Jim’s neuropathy is cyclical and some airports are just huge! To our rescue, The Airlines! Yes you heard it right, The Airlines!!! If you sign up as needing a wheel chair they will have you met by an attendant with that or some other form of assistance….also by international law, anything needed for medical reasons must fly free. Walker, yes. Breathing thing, yes. Medicines, yes!!! At LAST an international program I approve of ! !!

Check two!

Now baggage.. All the rules are changing as we chat. Lufthansa wants $381 per overweight bag!!!! NOOO shrieks Pam. Out of the bags come X,Y, and even Z. Weights of checked bags down, carry-ons up!

Check three!

Next challenge… preparing the house and car to look lived in for the two months it will not be and to have the house truly clean for Cyprus Sue and Alan. Enter a new cast of fairies! This time in the form of friends and neighbors. Steve, who is our handyman, now friend, is the fall back person forbeverything from checking lights to looking for leaks. Laura, big house next door, will drive the car, get gas and be sure it is clean. Mary Jean, other next door, will see that her son, Peter, mows and blows and that her daughter Sara, waters, cleans the deck furniture etc..

Check four!

Mary Jean will be sure there is fresh food and flowers. As for friends Tanya and Sid.. Who can say enough! They have arranged for Alan, a Scotchman who spends a lot of time on the golf course, to have custom-fitted golf clubs and to go golfing with them, AND arrange for Sue to go birding with them. They are also picking them up at the Richmond airport.

We are so very glad we set it up this carefully as we thought they were very nice people before we met them. Now we’ve met them and enjoyed their hospitality, we realize that we underestimated their largesse. They are doing everything for us, including introducing us to writer friends who belong to the Paphos Writers Association. Jim has been invited to their next meeting…. But I digress…

The day of departure arrives with one last look about… and off we go! Our coach is a Williamsburg Taxi Van. The van because of so much luggage! 10 bags all together, 2 large, 2 medium, a walker, a c-pap machine, an attaché, 1 Pam’s carry on, 1 Pam’s purse which seems to be a somewhat smaller version of Pam’s closet. We are met and assisted through Richmond airport… the plane is late but Not too late to be a problem. We arrive in Phili and find that the plane is “Late but not too late to cause a problem.” We are taken to the Business Lounge where we await the next leg of our journey to Frankfort… All is well!!!

We are assisted on the plane to our phenomenal seats which do everything, upright to flat, and everything in between including massages. A private video that shows 12 movies, 10 TV shoes, including Bonanza, (the Japanese favorite), some 100 CD’s and a huge manual that dares you to figure it out before you arrive. We have a pampered meal, with pampered wine, and dessert wine…. I LOVE being pampered. In Frankfurt we are met by a greeter and a golf cart…. Thank goodness! I have never seen a more confusing airport or a larger one. We share our cart with a pair of married trolls, not 4’8”, suspicious of all and certain that we had nothing better to do than steal two more suitcases. Impossible to describe. The driver was a lovely young lady who took us to “our” lounge with a promise that we would be picked up in adequate time to catch leg 3 to Larnaca.

We were but here is where we started to enter the twilight zone between Modern Europe and the other world. The girl pushing Jim’s chair was an Olympic runner who soon left me panting in their dust. She and Jim sailed Through the security checkpoint but I hit the “go ahead make my day man”. He checked everything twice. I finally find Jim and we get ready to board a plane that has clearly been fitted together from parts of other old planes. They even had to fix the Pilot’s door before we could leave. Duct tape.

We arrive in Larnaca… no nothing, but it will come, oh yes most certainly!!! Finally a wheel chair shows up with no one to push it leaving Jim with Two bags on his lap, one between his knees and two on the handles as I push and pull a suitcase at the same time. What a vision of The Sophisticated Travelers we were.

We arrive at the auto rental place and the woman who was just there to eat lunch saves our day. She goes to get the car, larger than we paid for, pulls it into an illegal but convenient spot for us and then loads it!!! She should be given wings. Or at least a job with the rental company.

We found our hotel, eventually, which was not too clean but the 2nd in Command, who did everything, was very nice and the view was terrific.

Off we go Tuesday morning to be met by Cyprus Sue who takes immediate pity on us, plops our weary bones on the sofa, pours us wine while Alan cooks a wonderful meal and somehow manages to get our suitcases next door and up the stairs. We remember little of it all.

This brings us to our home for the Cyprus Trip…begun by Neolithic wanderers, touched by Aphrodite and Saint Paul, possessed by the Turks and the British, and shaping Jim’s life along the way.

More when I catch my breath.