MY LIFE IN NORTH CYPRUS
I sat in my lounge with furniture and cartons and boxes all around me and thought where on earth do I start.
So came the arduous task of unpacking. I had brought 3 rolls of carpeting on the container as I must confess I like carpet in my bedrooms, so before I could do much I had to lay carpet in the bedrooms and hallway. A lot of people thought I was mad not wishing to keep the tiled floors but in latter years I have noted quite a few people have laid carpet! It was not an easy task but I got there in the end and then I could start unpacking. It was like Christmas morning opening all of the 70+ boxes. I had almost forgotten what some of my stuff looked like. This was in addition to unwrapping the furniture which had been very well packed with bubble wrap and corrugated paper. I only had one slight bit of damage to an item of furniture and one broken mug, so that really wasn’t too bad. It took about a month to clean up the floor tiles and put all of my bits and pieces where they needed to go, getting air conditioning installed and purchasing some of the items which were not included in the build and having them fitted.
At that time I was glad I had brought most of my furniture with me as there were very few furniture shops locally and not being familiar with Lefkoşa then I would not have known where to go. I even purchased flat pack bedside cabinets, chests of drawers and a computer desk and this all came over on the container. A kind neighbour helped me to assemble all of this so everything was coming along well. Of course, nowadays there are many really good shops selling all manner of furniture but that is now, not back in 2004.
At last I was really here and when your home is around you once again it really is time to start living the new life.
There was the area of land which was to be the garden, it was a lot bigger than I had envisaged and as I didn’t particularly want a garden at all (this was why I originally had decided on an apartment) I was totally phased out by this enormous expanse of ground.
On reflection I am so glad I have the garden where I can walk around and feel space. Well, here I was with this blank canvas, I had not intended to do much to it for a while, that was to be a project for the future, but as I sat outside on the terrace enjoying the sun, my mind started working overtime and I had very quickly planned one area of the garden. So it began, as soon as the first area was sorted out I already had visions of the next area and so it went on, and towards the end of the year it had been paved, planted with shrubs and fruit trees, and chippings laid over a fairly large area to reduce maintenance. What a lovely experience that was and I am pleased to say that although I am not a good gardener I seemed to make the right choices with most of the plants and trees and, with the exception of one or two, they are still flourishing. My one pride and joy is an avocado tree which I planted that year, it grew tall but year after year there was no fruit but in 2011 I had a marvellous crop of avocados, a bit small but I was able to have many delicious starters of prawn and avocado from my very own tree. I recall someone telling me that it could take 7 years before the tree would fruit and this seems to have been about right. I can take credit for the design of the garden but have to say I had a lot of help with the hard work of digging and planting and of course all of the paving was done by contractors.
So for the next few months I was enjoying the bungalow and the garden and finding my way around. Life was good.
During the year, my ex-employer asked me to go to Spain to “sort out his office”. He had recently moved there and as he had always totally relied on me to see to almost all of his business and personal affairs he was at his wits end and called for help. I arranged to go there in October 2004 for 3 weeks. It was a nice change and during the time I was there I managed to get the office and procedures set up for him. I was all geared up to go to Spain and then there was a change in my life which was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Two weeks before I was due to go to Spain, there was a little face at my front door and there sat a small black cat. I went towards it and it fled but only to the end of the building and it sat there peeping around the corner at me. After one or two repeats of this, I opened a tin of tuna, which was all I had that was suitable and he gobbled it up. Before very long I sat on the front steps and he was on my lap. I have no idea where this cat came from, he was a bit timid but obviously used to being handled and petted. Later on I found he had a fascination for open trucks or cars with open windows, he would be investigating in no time at all and I decided he had probably been carried to my area while investigating a parked vehicle somewhere. I felt so sorry for whoever had lost him. Off I went to Spain thinking that would be the last I would see of my new arrival, I had asked my sister to feed him and would just wait to see what happened. I didn’t expect him to still be there on my return. I emailed a couple of times and was told “yes, he is still here”, but I thought oh well he will probably move on before I get back. I had a nightmare journey back from Spain and instead of arriving back at about 9 pm it was 6 am the next day when I finally got home. What was the first thing I saw? a little black cat coming to greet me. I was over-joyed. He stayed and never ventured too far away, except initially when he was off courting (he hadn’t been neutered) but this was soon remedied with a visit to the Vet. The Vet thought he was about 3 years old so I kept this in mind as he grew older.
So, my new found friend became part of my life for the next few years, I wish it could have been longer, he was so affectionate and I loved him to bits. If I was in the garden and he couldn’t see me he would yowl until he knew where I was, then he would wander off quite contented. In the afternoons, when it was hot outside, we would lie together on the settee with me reading and him gently snoring in my ear, he loved to be cuddled and would sleep with his head on my shoulder. I find it difficult to describe the affection we had which seemed to be on both sides.
It was very sad that in 2009, after having my cat for 4½ years he developed a nasal tumour and there was nothing that could be done for him as an operation would have been too dangerous to carry out in such a sensitive area. A few weeks later, he was sinking fast, not able to eat or drink and sneezing blood everywhere so I had to make the decision to put him out of his misery and ask the Vet to put him to sleep. I brought him home and buried him in the garden. For the next few days my life was in turmoil and I cried incessantly, I never thought I would get over losing my cat, but they say time is a great healer and this is true but I still think of him and wish he had lived to a grand old age. I am sure people who have lost pets will be able to understand how I felt at the time.
Now I was on my own again and suddenly I felt so alone, not bored or stressed, just very lonely. In 2010 I made a trip to the UK, the first since I had moved to North Cyprus, it was a nice couple of weeks and I realised I had forgotten the greenery and some of the nice things and I started to think maybe I should go back.
To read Part 1, click here:- My Life in North Cyprus – Chapter 1
By Margaret Sheard