Monday, February 9, 2009

Trips to the Mar and the Turkish Side

Hello! Wow I can't believe that I have not updated since the Superbowl. Since then so much has happened. Last Monday and Tuesday were normal school days, and last Wednesday we went out to a club, Ithaki, with an open bar and that was super fun. Last Thursday Anwar knocked on our door around 230, and I opened it to see that he was sitting on the ground in pain. I immediately thought he was messing around but he proceeded to tell me that he was hit by a car while riding his bike. I guess he was riding near Carrefour and some woman driving roughly 70km/hr (he thinks) hit him and he flipped over onto his back. She didn't stop or anything and he didn't get the license plate, unfortuantely. I guess that's how they do things here in Cyprus. Anyway after rummaging through websites and phone books we figured out where the closest hospital was and Martin drove him while the rest of us went to class. He's fine now-it turned out he tore some muscles and has been pretty sore, but nothing major. After class Martin took Kell and I to the Mall of Cyprus, which was neat but pretty much the same as malls at home. We ate at Pizza Hut and helped Martin pick out some shoes, then we spent some money at the department store where there were sales. Later that night Martin, Dez, Lauren and I decided to go to this new club that had just opened and had free admission. It's a long story but it ended up not being a good idea. After 20 minutes we peaced out to get some late night food (no $5 pizzas here unfortunately, just burgers and fries and sometimes kabobs) and went back to Martin's room where Dez and I got caught up on the Office.

On Friday we made our first voyage to the Turkish side (yay!). Martin drove the girls and I and his friend Zenobia (who is from Ghana and fantastic) in his tiny Volkswagen Polo to the border. We were originally going to do what most tourists do and drive to the center of the old city of Nicosia and park, and then show our passports at the Green Line and walk over. Well Martin (who has lived in Cyprus for 10 years) did not know where to park downtown so he stopped and asked for directions. Whoever gave him directions gave them as if we were driving, and 5 minutes later we ended up at the border in a line of traffic in his car. Everything at the border was very disorganized-in a 2 lane street people were expected to park their cars and get out to show the UN guys their passports etc. While the rest of the line of traffic waited behind with no where to go and no where to turn around. So we did as everyone else did and parked pretty much in the middle of the street while Martin got out to get all of our passports approved and a little white piece of paper stamped. They cannot stamp our passports legally because the Turkish Republic of Cyprus is not recognized as a country, so techincally we never left Cyprus. Anyway, Martin came back to the car a bit later telling us that we needed to go back to the apartments because he was informed that he too needed his passport to cross, and he hadn't brought it. So we drove back and forth and were finally at the border and stamped by about 330 pm (our excursion began around 2) and we successfully ended up in Northern Cyprus. It was a bit more run down than here. We stopped in a few shops and took some pictures in a park that looked mildly important. None of the signs were in English (or Greek even, which Martin would have been able to translate) so we had no idea what the statues and monuments represented. We got some chicken kabobs at a cute place and stayed until the sun set and the Turkish flag on the mountain lit up, and then we decided to head back. It took a while, but we had made our first successful trip across the border. When we got back we went out for dinner at a traditional Greek restaurant for Kendra's (a girl in our program) birthday. Most of us ordered the traditional Meze, a gajillion course Cyprus meal. It started out with bread and salad with tzaziki sauce and other sauces that looked like hummus and it was PHENOMENAL. The rest of the courses included rice and pasta, chicken kabobs, minced meat balls, grilled lamb, mushrooms, and other fun things that I can't remember. Also, all of the courses had traditional names that I can't remember either. We also got wine with our meals which was great. Anyway, the meal was wonderful and worth the $15 euros it cost. And they were playing light rock in the restaurant and the Backstreet Boys came on and it was great. We didn't go out that night because we were all beat but we stayed in and played bullshit again. Lauren and Kel went to sleep earlier than Dez and I who went over to Martin's again to watch Thursday's episode of the Office (which was AWESOME) and also Two Men and a Half as Martin says. I also showered over there which was FANTASTIC because his water pressure is significantly better and the water stays hot for way longer.

On Saturday we woke at 915 to get on a bus to Kyrenia at 945. I was up late the night before so I was BEAT on the bus. We rode the tour bus to the border where we did the whole passport thing again, and Lauren and another girl took pictures of the UN guys at the border so a guard rushed on the bus and made them delete their pictures. It was kind of nuts. So we drove right on up the mountains (the ones we can see from our apartment) which was SCAAAAAAARY because our bus was huge and the roads up were all narrow with 20 degree angle bends in them. It felt like we were going to drive right off the cliff and roll down the mountain. Anyway, once we were at the very top we stopped at a castle and took lots of pictures, and we could see the city of Kyrenia which was gorgeous. It was also a super pretty, clear day so it made all of the pictures look awesome. We drove down to about halfway down the mountain to an old abbey that has remained unused since the Turkish invasion. It was a great town-mountains to the left and the Mediterranean Sea to the right. The abbey was super old but super neat. After spending a bit of time there we drove down to the harbor where we saw the Kyrenia Castle, which again was super old but super cool. We saw the remains of a ship that crashed into the castle way back when and all of the things that it carried. Then we got lunch at some cute outside place on the harbor but it took SO long to get our food it was ridiculous and we were all late for the bus. We all got home from the trip and napped for about 3 hours and made pasta (of course). We ended up at club Teez that night for free, and Martin drove us there and back so we spent no money for a fantastic night out. Afterwards I went with Martin and his friend Divine to a Jack in the Box that was opened til at least 6 am (that's when we went home). We got back and Dez and I hungout with Martin again until the sun came up around 7.

Last week Martin pinky swore that he would take us to the beach yesterday. Even though it took 12 rings of his doorbell around 1:00 he finally got out of bed and was happy to drive the 4 of us to Larnaca. He didn't understand why we would want to go to the beach in the "winter", so I explained to him that a. we had never been in the Mediterranean and b. the chances of the water being colder than the Jersey shore were slim. When we got there, even though it was off season, there were many people walking around and all of the shops and restaurants were open. The sea looked wonderful so of course we took off our shoes and ran in. There weren't any other people in the water-actually they were all bundled up in their winter jackets and scarves. We ran around in the water for a while before we got too wet and decided that we needed to eat. We walked around a bit and took some pictures and then took Martin to TGI Friday's-he had never been and we owed him for keeping his promise, and we all needed a big American meal. It was expensive, but sooo worth it. We drove home after the sun set on the last fantastic day of our 3 day weekend.

We're working on going to Paphos this weekend, where Martin lives, so that we can talk to his mom about our Egypt trip (that will hopefully happen next weekend). Dez found an awesome cheap hotel online right near the beach, so hopefully things will work out and we'll travel somewhere new yet again.

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