Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rough Travelling in Cyprus

 the three of us, after hitching a ride with some university professors to the tip of Cyprus
 the lawn chair that we used as a wind breaker in our cave on the beach
 the really quite cool old people on the tour we first hitched a ride from
the last little town before there were no more towns or villages

This is me, who after hibernating for weeks and letting my brain turn into mush from too much school and not enough dreaming, this is me remembering the second time I ever hitchhiked and how absolutely terrified I was to stick my thumb out, to open myself to the world and the road and every single car going past. I don't like to draw attention to myself like that. I feel it is invoking attention that is not positive, or negative, it is just a split second discernment by the drivers going by of who you are, where you are from, where you are going, and why.
The three of us caught a bus as far North as we could, and then started walking on the  main road out of town. I knew that we wanted to head North, North East-ish, and there was a sign eventually that pointed to a monastery and so we followed that road. We walked through a quiet neighbourhood, all little run down huts with yards with chickens and pigs and goats in them, and then we came upon a little grocery store so we bought a loaf of bread, some chocolate spread, a pack of biscuits, and three bananas. And then we kept on walking.
C had done the most hiking before, and he calculated that if we didn't find a ride it would take us around 10 hours to walk with our packs. It was a mild day, almost too warm, and it felt like limbo to not know exactly where we were or where we were going. We had a vague destination (Golden Beach) but other than that we had no guide books or maps or even sleeping bags. Looking back, it was quite foolish of us to just march off along this highway into a National Park with no supplies.
Luckily, we had walked for about 20 minutes before a large bus drove past us, and D stuck out her thumb. To our surprise, it actually stopped for us, and we ran to catch up to it, and hopped on to find it was a tour bus from a fancy hotel full of old English and German tourists going to see the Park and the monastery (the same one we had seen the sign for) for the day. The tour guide welcomed us, asked where we were headed, and said that they could drop us off at Golden Beach on their way back from the monastery. So we stowed our packs, and sat at the very back with an elderly couple from Cambridge. They were cool, obviously, since they had chosen to sit at the very back.

We chatted with them, and they asked us where we were from and why we were in the deepest backwaters of Cyprus, and I think they felt a little parently towards us. Which was OK, because it was sort of nice to have someone know where we were and to worry about us. None of our real parents had any idea, nor had they heard from us in a week.

After we saw the monastery, we said goodbye to the old tourists and the tour guide gave us a little map and his phone number in case we ran into trouble before dropping us off at Golden Beach. It was late afternoon by then, and we had had a long day and were looking for a sort of "free shelter". We found a bunch of bungalows and a reception hut that all looked deserted, and we tried the locks on the doors and found them all open but unfurnished. Then someone had the brilliant idea of trying the windows on the reception building, through which we could see had a couple of couch type structures, and voila! The windows were open. So we had shelter for the night. We sat at the picnic tables there on the beach and ate our bread, chocolate, bananas, and most of the biscuits. We were very hungry. Then we wandered the sand and explored the dunes until sunset, and then came back to the shelter area. We sat at the picnic table again and played cards and talked with our flashlights, and I had the brilliant idea of starting a story telling thing, that could be continued for weeks if we chose to write them down and then share them. Around 9 o'clock p.m. we crept through the open window of the reception building, put on all our layers of clothing, and wrapped ourselves in our towels. We were very afraid that someone would come out of the darkness and demand what we were doing, and kick us out into the night. There were a couple of strange lights we saw, and we sent C to investigate while D and I clutched each other tightly and tried not to scream. It was very cold that night, and none of us slept well.

Luckily the sun encouraged us to get up soon enough, and we packed our bags and dragged them down to the beach and hid them in some bushes right before the owners of the place came driving up the road, but they caught C leaving the reception hut. He told them some story about how we was just wondering how much it cost a night to sleep there, and they didn't question him further. He met us back on the beach, and we decided to try sleeping in the cave we had found the day before while exploring the dunes. It was a little sandy cave on the side of the dune, hidden by some bushes, with a shallow rock formation as the roof, but there wasn't much shelter from the wind, and we were afraid of the cold. So I tried dragging a broken lawn chair we found back to the cave as a sort of wind breaker, but we could tell that without a fire we would still freeze.  It was warm during the days, but since it was still only early April, at night the temperature dropped and the strong wind was cool.