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.

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