MY LIFE IN NORTH CYPRUS 

Chapter 3

 In 2010 I made a trip to the UK, the first since I had moved to North Cyprus,and I started to think maybe I should go back.

After the loss of my cat, I started to get very despondent with my life and in 2010 I made a trip to the UK, the first since I had moved to North Cyprus, and I started to think maybe I should go back.   I had looked at some possibilities whilst I was in the UK and even went as far as getting a valuation on my bungalow here.   Then I started to think about things and tried to weigh up all the pros and cons.   So I started looking back at my life so far in North Cyprus.

There were so many good times and nice people I have met.  I remembered in 2004 I met Ali Yaliman who is now the Editor in Chief of this newspaper.   This was in the Café de Paris and as we got talking I found he was living in a property right behind mine.   This has turned in a circle because although I bumped into Ali now and again and he moved from my area, I now have resumed contact with him by contributing these articles for the new Cyprus Observer. 

I started Turkish lessons and met a lovely lady who I became very friendly with and through her I met a lot more nice people.   For a while I helped her with some charity work for KAR and this did a lot for my morale.

I started to think about how everything was when I first came here;

The main car park in Girne was just an area of open ground with vehicles parking haphazardly anywhere, and in the winter it could become very muddy.  What a change when you look at what we have now, a proper car park with marked parking spaces, lighting and a ticket system.   I went on an organised walk around Girne some years ago and was told that there were the remains of a Roman village under this car park.

There were just the Lemar supermarkets in Karakum and Karaoğlanoğlu and Tempo (the small one) in Girne and the larger one in Karaoğlanoğlu plus the small corner shop type markets.   Now we have so many supermarkets to choose from and the range of foodstuffs has increased dramatically over the years.   Being a vegetarian my main problem initially was availability of the sort of food I wanted to be able to buy but before long there seemed to be an ever increasing choice of suitable foodstuffs and now there is almost everything you could want.  Maybe there are one or two things you suddenly have a craving for, one thing I miss is Dolly Mixtures and last Christmas I put on my pressie list coming from the UK a Terry’s dark chocolate orange, that was heaven when I finally opened it.  So there are some bits and pieces that we still don’t see here but it is not the end of the world and in my case, I have to think of the waistline!

The first year I was here I thought Christmas would be a no-go with nothing happening but was amazed at how Girne was decorated with lights and most of the shops were quite Christmassy, this was a real surprise but of course the Cypriot community celebrate the New Year so that is the time for them.  A lot of restaurants put on a traditional Christmas Day lunch so we can enjoy Christmas Day after all.   Christmas 2004 was brilliant, Christmas Day at a local restaurant and New Year’s Eve at another restaurant and then to Girne for the fireworks.  We stopped off at a restaurant near the harbour and had a fabulous time there, we never did get to see the fireworks that year but in subsequent years the effort has been made to see them and what a spectacular event that is.

I started getting in my car and just driving around and looking at everything with a new perspective and I really liked what I saw so my mind was slowly being made up.  I was thinking:-

Where in the UK can you sit in a superb amphitheatre on a warm evening and see a concert or traditional Cypriot entertainment?   How often in the UK can you sit on your terrace or outside at a restaurant until late in the evening with no fear of being cold?   Do you ever need to worry about a coat or an umbrella when you go out in the summer months?     I realised that there is a lot to be thankful for in this small part of Cyprus – the mountains, the sea, the rural villages and the feeling of being safe from the hazards of living in a city or town in other parts of the world.   I decided I would probably be just as lonely in the UK and would have the awful weather to contend with plus what sort of property would I be able to buy?   I decided to stay and take my chances and took my bungalow off the market.

After a while I started getting to know and chatting to the man who had moved in next door to me and we gradually became friends and started to go out together exploring and visiting various places and this is when I realised that I knew very little about the island and was certainly introduced to places I didn’t know existed.  He knew his way around the island very well and this was good for me as I discovered so much of the heritage and culture which I had never been aware of before.

There was Mavi Kőşk (The Blue House);  we went to places up in the mountains with fantastic views; the Karpaz which was a place I always wanted to see and it took 6 years before I did get there; then there was Salamis and Famagusta and although I had been there many years before, with my friend’s interest in history I saw these places from a different angle.   I had discovered Green Heights Park which was a place I went to when I was feeling down as the peace and tranquillity there always put me right, at least this was one place I could introduce to someone else and many a happy day has been spent there over the past couple of years.

I decided to try my hand at giving something back to the community and for a short while I became Secretary of a local Society, unfortunately this did not work out for me and I decided to admit defeat and resign, then this was followed by giving some help to various charities.

After a couple of years, my friend and I decided to live together so he moved in with me and we now have a very happy life and share an interest in writing which we are both now doing for Cyprus Observer.   Long may this continue, together with our new venture with cyprusscene.com

I hope I have not bored the readers with this series about my life here but it was nice for me to recall things and share with others and maybe there are people out there who can relate to some of my experiences.  My garden is now well established and there are the summer months to look forward to, so what could be better than living your life in the sun.

I know a lot of people become dissatisfied with their life here, for whatever reason, but I think my decision to stay in North Cyprus was the right one for me, this is my home and this is where I will stay.

By Margaret Sheard