This is not a story. Today I am up for a piece of advice. Recently I have celebrated 10 month of my new life – life in Cyprus. It does not make me an expert, you’ll say. No, it does not. However, now I can boast I have learnt the most important secret one needs to know to live happily and in harmony with the island.
Feel the rhythm of Cyprus
Even if you are completely new to the island, I am sure you have already heard the famous ‘siga-siga’ expression. This is exactly how everything in Cyprus operates. Whether you are looking for a car repair, a tent to cover your garden terrace, a summer school for kids, or a pottery class to attend, you will be surprised how difficult it may appear. They tell you they will get back to you tomorrow. They never do. They ignore your calls. They remember about you in a week after you have already asked a local to help you out. The local got in touch with a friend, relative, or a friend of a friend or relative and you got whatever it is you were looking for. After you started happily driving your newly-repaired car, got used to enjoying your morning cup of coffee under the tent, planned all your kids’ activities for after school or completed your pottery course, the person you got in touch with initially will suddenly re-appear. Most likely they will be surprised that you are already settled because the ‘siga-siga’ period has not yet expired. So, when something is not delivered to you ASAP, just take it easy and remember about the island’s motto. Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about whatever it is that bothers you at the moment. Stress is bad for you. Take it easy!
This was the secret. I also have some more observations for you.
Beware of drivers’ unwritten code of conduct
Being a driver in Cyprus can be a challenge because of several reasons. Unless you are from a country prefering the left lane, the right steering wheel will feel so wrong at first! However, this is the least of all problems. You’ll get used to the left-hand traffic very quickly – from time to time you will still feel weird having half a car on the wrong side. Especially when you’ll hear the curbs scratching the bottom of your recently-acquired vehicle. Don’t worry! Everybody did it. The thing that you really have to worry about is everything else. At times you will see a car going on your lane in the opposite direction. In this case scan the number plates fast and if theay are red, swerve! These are tourists and they have obviously not realised yet they are driving on the wrong side. If the plates are white or yellow, it’s alright – the car is about to park or turn. So, no worries. Just in case they are too slow in that car coming right on to you, apply the brakes lightly.
Also, don’t worry if you have suddenly been made to come to a halt in the middle of a one-lane road. Nothing bad has happened. Most likely somebody ahead needs to turn right where the rules do not permit this. So, they need to do it really fast and with as little stress as possible. If you start beeping, the driver will feel under pressure and may get him- or herself into an accident. Do not take it upon yourself. Let them do their thing and then the whole queue of automobiles will start moving again. Take it easy but not too easy!
Remember in Cyprus light signals are not popular. So, if somebody starts moving towards your lane right in front of you without the signal, they are not wobbling, they really are moving into your lane.
If I were you, I would avoid overtaking pick-up trucks…but this is something personal. Every time I see such a truck going between the lanes I just follow it until the driver decides which lane to choose. See? I am taking it easy!
Take a good book to the doctor’s
If you have an appointment with a doctor at 10, do not be late! Somebody else will take your place and you will have to wait for ages. However, this will never happen to you because if your appointment is at 10, you will get to the doctor’s at half past at the very best. There are so many doctors in Cyprus. Just choose the one with good coffee in the reception area and enjoy it alongside the good book you have taken because you have listened to me. Siga-siga.
Do not google things in Cyprus
Leave googling for tourists! Poor things will still get lost in the number of pretty badly-designed old-fashioned web-sights not knowing which ones to trust. Local businesses are not well-presented on the Internet. This is to say the very least. Your best bet is to rely on the word of mouth. People talk. If you listen carefuly, you will know where to go shopping for clothes, which beauty salon to do manicure in, who in the area makes yogurt with no preservatives and how to get to a garage catering for Renault. If your network is not very developed yet, try looking through Facebook. Some of the businesses have their Facebook pages. Some of them are even up-to-date. They are taking it easy.
Break out from the expat bubble
Merge with locals. Cypriots are the lovliest, nicest, and funniest people to hang out with if you happen to be liked by them. They may seem pretty reluctant to communicate at first but this is their shyness talking. After a few awkward questions on your side, they will grow fond of you and will ask you a few questions they are interested in. Usually three: your name, where you are from and
if you are married if you like Cyprus. By the time you are brave enough to actually talk to the locals, you will love Cyprus! I promise.
Don’t be a conformist
Not all traditions are good. Souvlaki party at 9 pm is one of the examples. Even if you like souvlaki (at any time of the day) and even if most of your guests are Cypriots, do not torture your stomach and be creative! Invite your guests for 6 pm. They will be surprised (and half an hour to hour late) but you know what they say – you will have your cake and eat it too.
Love Cyprus and it will love you back. The island is a great place to build a very happy and relaxed life surrounded by nice people. It is so small but has got so much to offer that sometimes it seems a lifetime here will not be enough to fully appreciate the beauty of the nature, the grace of the ancient heritage, the taste of the fantastic local food and the smell of the magnificient Mediterranean sea. Take your time to get acquainted with Cyprus, its complicated history and feel its pain. Make it your new home and fill it with love and warmth it deserves. And whatever happens, just take it easy!