Bisected

Bisected


At the port of Tasucu I meet Alexander. He has started from Sochi (Russia) and now wants to spend the remaining 4 weeks of his journey in Cyprus. He only speaks Russian, but we still find a way to communicate. Our ferry was supposed to leave at exactly midnight. Alexander and I are the only tourists on the ferry. The loading of the ferry takes forever. At about 1 o'clock we are beginning to realize that we are late. I always thought that Deutsche Bahn would be unbeatable in terms of delays. But apparently I have found a real competitor here. Only at 4:00 clock the engine starts to run.

At customs in Girne we have to wait almost 2 hours to wait until we finally land.

Left! At the beginning I am completely irritated. It takes quite a while until I get used to the traffic. When shopping at the supermarket, we find that the products here are clearly more expensive than on the mainland. No wonder, after all, almost everything has to be imported. Outside the city, traffic is declining rapidly. We stop at a war memorial commemorating the Cyprus conflict.

The Cyprus conflict exists between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot-denominated areas over state power in Cyprus. In its course, the north of the island (and thus a third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus) was occupied by Turkish forces in the summer of 1974, after Greek coup leaders wanted to enforce the connection of Cyprus to Greece. In the Turkish-occupied north, the - not internationally recognized - Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was proclaimed in November 1983, which today forms a stabilized de facto regime.

Although a political solution does not seem to be in sight in the medium term, a period of good economic and social contacts has emerged after years of separation.

At a cliff, we open our camp and watch the sun go down as it disappears into the sea. What more do you want? The hospitality is also great here. Again and again people invite us for a coffee or tea.

Two days later I have to say goodbye to Alexander. He is not allowed to enter the Greek part with his Russian passport. That some old wounds have not healed yet, I will soon learn firsthand.

While the northern part is still relatively flat, the actual mountain massif begins directly after the border. Suddenly, there is no horn concert anymore and the drivers overtake by far. Sometimes they even reduce the speed! The streets are also very steep here. But once you arrive somewhere on a pass, you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view. One morning, I realize that my food supplies are running out. Unfortunately, this day is just a holiday and the shops are all closed. In the first village I am invited to have breakfast with the family Simeonidou. The grandmother gives me another huge lunch package. My day is saved.

Here in the mountains I find everything I like about touring. Beautiful mountain landscapes. Streets with almost no traffic and fantastic campsites. In addition, most people speak English very well here. Actually an absolute paradise. Unfortunately my performance is drastically decimated the next day.

A big goal of my Africa trip is to cycle around the continent without an airplane. In Limassol I try to get a seat on a cargo ship at the Salamis office. The lady at the reception briefly telephoned the captain and informed me that no seats are available. That's a low blow for me. Luckily, a short time later, I meet on the street Vakis. He is himself a passionate cyclist and makes every effort to help me.

However, my mood is at its lowest point and after a while I say goodbye to him. The hotel prices are huge here and way out of my budget. So I spend the 3 weeks in Cyprus in my tent. At the airport of Larnaca then comes the next bad news. Israel only allows entry with a return ticket. In addition, I would have to pay for the transport of my bike again 200 euros extra. In Larnaka I find again an office of Salamis. There I learn that one can only leave the Greek part by plane if one has entered via the Turkish side. What an incredible nonsense! I think that is a little suspicious. That's why I cycle the same day towards Lefkosia. The capital of the country.

The city belongs in its entirety to the Republic of Cyprus in international law, but since the invasion of the Turkish forces in July 1974 and the proclamation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in November 1983 de facto no sovereignty over the northern part of Nicosia exercises. Since then, the city has been divided by a Green Line, which is overseen by United Nations peacekeepers, the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). On 3 April 2008, the first border crossing point in the Old Town (pedestrians only) was opened on Ledrastra├če.

There, the customs officials recommend me to drive to Limassol again. I am entitled with my Swiss passport to leave the island by ship. As I found the mountains beautiful and tried to cling to every ray of hope, I follow their advice and drive again through the mountains.

At the port in Limassol this time I am referred to another office of Salamis. There you recommend me in 4 days again to come over. With a bit of luck, there might be a place left. That sounds better. In the 4 days I can, for the first time in 3 weeks, turn on a few rest days. Strengthened, I enter the office again. There I learn that the ship is unfortunately full and I can not leave the port. Why did not I tell that to me 4 days ago? With a loud "Fuck You" I leave the office completely angry. These Greeks are simply world champions in incompetence!

Actually, my family wanted to visit me in Israel. When I log in to the internet, for the first time in weeks, I learn about the riots in Israel. After a long Skype conversation with my mother, we decide to bury this plan. Safety first.

My decision is now firm. I will fly from Larnaca to Amman (Jordan). The idiotic bureaucracy of the Greeks and the tense situation in Israel are a thorn in my side. I would like to travel safely and without major hurdles. And sometimes you have to change your principles. Two days later, my tractor is packed neatly and the plane ticket in my pocket. In a few hours I will leave the island.

The people here in Cyprus have surprised me with their hospitality. Also landscaped, I found it just fantastic. Unfortunately, the island is not only on the map, but also in the minds of many people, still divided into two. On departure I have to think of a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: "There is no way to peace, because peace is the way".