Waking up to my 3rd day here and it feels like a week. I am in an apartment with nice couches and a rug and a flatscreen. I am in a country that is not really a country because the UN hasn’t decided that it is a country yet. There are nice roads here and people running for president and children playing soccer in the street, this is the Turkish Republic of Cyprus.
When I crossed the border I got a visa stamp but they couldn’t stamp it in my passport so they stamped it on a piece of paper instead and gave me the piece of paper. I now have a visa to stay here for 90 days. There was a sign at the border corssing that said Turkish Republic of Cyprus: FOREVER
Gotcha. This is not a country but they are not going anywhere.
I spent my first half day and night here in LARNAKA, which is a coastal town on the South side (the Greek side). Larnaka is trying really hard to be a resort town for rich people. There are lots of places for tourists to throw away their money: you can get your eyebrows tattooed on, you can pay 3 euros to lie on the bed on the beach,
There is also a stray cat taking a dump on the beach. There are abandoned houses that Turkish people used to live in. There is also Daniel and Sekki who were my Couchsurfing hosts that night! Their apartment is on the second floor overlooking a little courtyard with flowers and flower trees. Their apartment is also filled with praying mantises. I ask Daniel when I first get there, “What do you do?” “I breed praying mantises!” He sells them online to people who want to get them for their children as pets. “Great pets for children.” The females also bite off their boyfriends heads after they bang. Here is a picture of me with Aphrodite: new friends everywhere!!
In the morning I hop on a bus to the capital city. I cross the border from the south side to the north side on foot. The guy checking my passport at the border tells me “This is Europe. Over there, no.”
Okay, I get it. Once in lawless, rogue, rebel Turkey-land I buy a sweet coffee from a kind gentleman at a nice café. His daughter comes home from school and is chattering away in Turkish. She has a ponytail and a backpack. I read a book and look at some beautiful plants.
Things have gone pretty much that way since I’ve been here on the north side. I meet my second Couchsurfer Hesham who is from Egypt. He is studying here in Nicosia but since he is from Egypt the south side of the city is off limits for him. He walks around “old town” Nicosia with me. We go into a mosque that used to be a Cathedral but when this became the Turkish side they took the old gods out and put new ones in. We walk around places that are nice for tourists and places where you can still see bullet holes in the walls. I ask him “Where is everybody? It seems kind of empty” he says “It’s always like this”. He is used to chillin in Katar and Saudia Arabia so he thinks it is kind of boring here.
When he’s bored he goes to Kyrenia which is on the north coast. We go there last night and it is like an elf town from lord of the rings. This is trying to be a resort town too but is doing it much better than Larnaka. Think: rich Germans who want to feel like they’re in the middle east but are too scared to go to Turkey.
MORE COMING ==== we start painting on Tuesday!