Monday, July 23

525 km on the bike (and an evening at a police station)

Yesterday I wanted to check if I would be able to keep my schedule for the trip home.

I had asked D to come with me, but he (and L) wanted to go through the mountains.


In the end, I went with them, all the way up to Trodos (Limassol->Dierona->Sikopetra - I think - Trodos->Trimiklini and back to Limassol).

lake somewhere in Limassol District, Cyprus

We had left at seven in the morning and got back around a quarter to twelve, making 200km, from start to finish.

As I wasn't satisfied with that (my purpose, among other things, was a resistance test) I got home, got something to eat, then mounted my bike again, refilled and took for Larnaca on the old road (B4 I believe).

In Larnaca, I stopped in the harbor to have some rest (and a coffee and two fruit salads) and proceeded arround Ayia Napa, towards Protaras and the small villages I could find on the map, in the general direction of Limassol.

My idea was to play with the GPS unit, learn the coordinates system and how to use it for navigation, see any problems I got through and so on.

From that point of view, the trip was a success.

By five o'clock in the afternoon, I had stopped in between Alampra and Lympia, and started taking pictures of the barbed wire and the "Turkish Occupied Area" signs on a side-road.

That's when "the adventure" started: there was a sign No Pictures Allowed, about one hundred meters down the road (which I had dismissed it as unimportant, since I believe that a sign refers to restrictions applied, starting from the point the sign is at).

As I was putting my camera in my backpack, an old guy stopped his car and started playing 20-Questions-in-Broken-English with me
Why you take photograph? What you photograph?
... and so on.

I tried showing him that I only took photos of the signs, and he took my camera; then, I tried to convince him to turn it off, since he held it powered on. He didn't want to hear about it, with a vehemence close to violence that scared me a bit.

He called some army guys and had them "guard me", then he called the police in Lympia, (for some reason he was very alarmed) then told me to "wait ten minutes" for the police to come and pick me up.

One hour later, as I was just exhausting all subjects of conversation with the two army guys (my trip and itinerary on the map, the GPS unit, military service in Cyprus, Romania and Israel, SCUBA, Cyprus, common words in Romanian and Greek, tourist attractions around the island and, of course, Ceaucescu) two policemen came, from Alampra. One of them told me not to panic and that I will have to go to Lympia on my own, as they couldn't come for me.

In the end, I spent my evening (until eleven PM or so) in the Lympia Police Station, drinking water and coffee, watching TV (an old B&W greek or cypriot comedy, from which I didn't understand a thing) and chatting with the guys there (thanks for the coffee guys :)).

I also saw a guy in jail (He's a good kid) and another one, wearing handcuffs, brought in, and out through the back.

Anyway, after a short discussion (mainly giving them my details and them photocopying my documents) I got home exhausted, around twelve o'clock, drank some watter and got to sleep.

In conclusion, I have learned what I wanted to learn:
  • first and foremost, yes, I will be able to cover the ground as I proposed myself
  • I will need lots of water with me, a few dry sweets for the breaks and a few cans of pre-brewed coffee (as a bare minimum)
  • I should make lots of breaks (80km with no break is a bit long and leads to exhaustion)
  • I will need a book or two, for any idle times (on the ferry for example)
  • no pictures anywhere near "no photography allowed" signs


Anonymous said...

A successful resistance test. Good luck in Turkey and Bulgaria. :-)


Anonymous said...

Good you were on the Greek side. I'm sure you'd have had another story if on the other side (Turkish), especially this week-end.

utnapistim said...

Thanks G :)

And Mr. A, the thought crossed my mind: I believe I would have been arrested (at the least) in the Turkish side.