Travel blog

A Recap: North Cyprus In All of It’s Glory

By on February 21, 2023

I’m not going to sugar-coat it, we had a rather rude awakening when we arrived in North Cyprus. A bit of background, which we’re still pretty unclear on: Cyprus is divided into two halves. The north is Turkish; the south is Greece. There’s a border crossing and a very low tolerance for any that don’t know.

We rocked into Northern Cyprus and thought we’d start south, working our way up until the 3-month deadline for Turkey. We were actually crossing the border when I took the dogs out to air their grievances and lift a leg. The border guard then freaked out on Armando, said the dogs would be ‘put down, we have a vet on call’ because we were considered to be smuggling ‘illegal animals into Greece.’

We explained they were both Euro dogs, latest shots, showed the papers… and no. They’d put our dogs down if we crossed the border, because somehow the Turkish side/ferry negated it. If we’d come from Greece, not Turkey, no problem. Nevermind that there’s no ferry to the Greek, only the Turkish part from Turkey. We tried a second border cross and the man had been ‘warned about you.’ I kept thinking they were imagining some rabid, vapid attack dogs slavering at the mouth the way they behaved. Not Ziggy and Arya. That decided us to stay in the north part, the Turkish part, of Cyprus. At least our dogs would be safe.

We went to park next to the sea. A dirt road led us towards the sea (we could see it, though it was a cold and windy day) when lo and behold, two men jump out from trees holding semi-automatic weapons at us. We both put our hands up as they nodded their guns for us to leave. We’d apparently wandered into what’s known as ‘no man’s land,’ the area that’s run* by Europe. By the time we found a spot to park, we were pretty blubbery and full of anxiety. What was this place?

It turned out, we had nothing to worry about. Unless boredom became deadly. We saw (we’re convinced) nearly every inch of the northern part of the island. No stone left unturned, so to speak. We had some highlights: we met Jaime and Sondra, with their fearless pups and selves; we saw wild donkeys (I think it’s the first time I ever saw Arya scared – she tried barking and was chased down irritably by two). I’m smiling now remembering her face of ‘What the f— are these?’ as she ripped around the corner; we ran out of gas, and a man who worked for the gas company drove Armando across the border. The dogs and I stayed with his family. We came across a lot of kindness. Armando returned from one of his border trips with a porkfest fit for a dozen people.

We also visited Famagusta, which is famous for being abandoned in 1974 when the island was divided. The town was pretty much left as-is, and there’s a movement from the Greek side to let the owners back in. Then again, the same thing happened in the south with forced migration of the Turkish to the north. I don’t know enough about it, I know even less about the political climate. It feels very sad and petty, though, that people are still fighting over something nearly 50 years past – I’m sure I’d feel the same if it were me, were I Turkish or Greek.

On the way to leave Cyprus, we had more sticky-ness. We could leave, but our van couldn’t. Because their computer wasn’t reading the information correctly. For a few days. We went to the local municipality, spoke to people, they sympathized and understood. But it was the computer, not them. Once we finally arrived back in Turkey, we were so ready for Cappadocia.

…And Mork’s gearshift broke. It was drive-able, but really not good. We made the decision to go back to Bulgaria to have a mechanic Armando knew to take a look at it. It was a frightening, long drive. We expected to break down at any moment. When we were in Bulgaria, after a few days ‘it was fine.’ It wasn’t. So we made the decision to go back to Italy for repairs, thinking we’d have it fixed in no time.

While it was being repaired, a small cabin in the campground we were staying in was for sale. But that’s a story for next time. Grin.



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