This is my my first time living in Cyprus, I have been here for about 6 months (the Greek is coming on very slowly – Is this the only language in the world where the word for yes sounds exactly like the word no everywhere else in the world!)
Cyprus has lots of great things about it. The beaches, the mountains, the weather. For an English speaking person it is very easy, as just about everyone can speak better English than I can Greek. They also drive on the left hand-side of the road. Well I say drive, I have travelled to more than 50 countries but no drivers around the world come close tho the madness that happens on the streets of Nicosia. Red lights are optional, if you do stop it is customary to continually edge out by 50 cms every 30 seconds regardless of whether you will be blocking other cars with the right of way. As for the horn, if some stupid tourist idiot should dare stop for pedestrians at a zebra crossing it is illegal not to demonstrate to them that you horn works.
I walk to work, as it is only one mile away and the weather is always nice (this is considered stupid in Cyprus – why walk anywhere). I have to cross three roads to get to the office. I didn’t realise for the first two months that that this was a horn blowing crime against cars.
Thankfully I have found out why every person in Cyprus is a complete lunatic behind the wheel – none of them can drive. 99% of vehicles here are automatic, even the idea of having to use a stick shift would scare your average boy racer here to death. Any normal driver will know that automatics are purely the reserve of ‘Old Grannies’ or amputees. If you have two functioning legs, you require a clutch!
The new ‘austerity’ measures being applied across the western world in order that our elected elites can spend more and more money on things that we don’t want or need will have absolutely no effect on rural life in my part of the world. I live in an almost agrarian society, milk comes from the cow, eggs from the chicken, fruit and veg from the garden. As of yet the powers that be have not found a way to tax these things, and even if they did no-one would comply.
So only being 35 km from Greece and all their public sector workers striking because they have to retire in their forties on half pay pensions doesn’t cut much sympathy on this side of the border. Especially when they are seen driving new BMW’s when my neighbours are still driving around in 25 year old Lada’s. One of the main differences is that the people of Bulgaria, although now fully democratic (whatever that means) have never thought much of their politicians and have never believed a word they say. So if some new politician came in and told them all they could retire at 50 on 1000 euros a month they would realise that this is just some scam to get elected and then line their own pockets. So why is it the rest of the world so happily vote for these stupid people.
Instead of the ‘normal’ Bulgaria is better than the UK drivel that comes from these blogs, I thought I should put some perspective on what here in Bulgaria is a problem akin to the public sector pension deficit in the UK.
Documents. Bulgarians just can’t get enough of them. I have just sold my car here to one of my neighbours. This does not just involve the handing over of a V5 and sending it to Swansea – Oh no. I and the purchaser “Sali’ had to drive 35km to the nearest ‘Notary’ office where Sali as the purchaser had to pay for three documents in order that he could buy my car. The first document confirmed that I was selling my car (signed by me), the second that I had paid all fines, and taxes on the car (again signed by me). The third which still makes me smile at the thought of it, was a document that I had to sign to say that I am not married, or have any children.
This one caught me by surprise also. I enquired as to why my marital status need confirming by a notary, to be informed that if I had been married and had children, my signature only, would not have been enough to sell my car. It would have required the signature of spouse & children over the age of 16. Can you imagine DVLA in Swansea requiring the permission of your wife to sell your car? They would be fire bombed within days!
The great institute of the Britsh Pub, although destroyed in Britain lives well in rural Bulgaria. My local village pub,
does not have a ‘gastro’ menu, does not have watered down beer that tastes of piss, or draconian opening hours and the smoking ban is at the descetion of the landlord. The toilet is outside. When
I say outside, I mean wherever you want to pee outside. Cards are played, and conversation revolves around sport, bikinis, engines, and how crap
the policitians are.
Aziz, one omy neighbours has just bought a car. He is 45 and can’t drive, but as he has to make regular trips into the city, he has bought himself a car
so now all he has to do to get a lift is find someone with a driving licence. In Bulagria you insure the car not the driver (much more sense).
So Aziz, although a donkey expert does have much idea when it comes to cars. Whilst doing his weekly check, turning the engine over and much polishing
he noticed the oil warning light remained on. Don’t panic!
So he is in the pub asking for advice on how to get the oil light to turn off, without removing the bulb. He is given all manner of advice, and is now more confused than
when he knew nothing. So me and Hikmet(barmen) decided to resolve his one remaining issue, should he buy Castrol GTX(10/40) at 20lev a litre, or the cheap as chips engine oil
(10/40). Hikemt explained that when it comes to engine oil the packaging is quite similar to women, the bikini clad beauty is definately more expensive, but when the lights are out
a hole is hole. As with most pubs a sexual analogy always works best. Aziz is off to buy the cheap as chips oil!
Some great new laws have come into effect today in Bulgaria, after successfully turning my garden into a cow free zone by applying
100’s of metres of barbed wire around it, as from today cows are not allowed to roam freely around the village and have to be either tethered
More interestingly though due, to a recent plague of rodents in southern Bulgaria it is now possible to get an EU subsidy for keeping cats! Luckily
my two cats (Alan & Dave) have full EU status and therefore qualify for the grant. Which dependent upon the amount of rodent kills they make could
make keeping cats a full time business. I am begining to regret having them neutererd, as this could be a real money spinner.
If you live in Bulgaria and would like to register your cat for the subsidy you will need to get the documnet from your local Kimet or email me
email@example.com for more details.
This year I am also trying to grow some more unusual crops, including asparagus, celery (I know its not unusual), and I even have some seeds for red
bananas. I have distributed a few of the seeds around the village and have offered a prize for the first of anyone to grow an actual banana!