Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The past 2 weeks have been uneventful.  Uneventful is a good thing.  

We are enjoying a nice, quiet time doing nothing.  Bill moved the "television" with DVD player and speaker system into our aft cabin, and we enjoy lying in bed watching movies in the air-conditioning each evening for a couple of hours.  Then read books.  That has become our evening routine -- also going out for dinner at least once each week.

One day we made a car trip to Nicosia with the German couple, Tati and Hoenning, who share in the car rental arrangement with us.  They showed us the way to the border crossing.  We bought the mandatory insurance for the car to be driven in Southern Cyprus.  Others in the marina had said this was expensive, but it costs only 25 Euro per month.  And that is for the vehicle, not per driver.  That is hardly what we would consider expensive.  Try renting a car in Houston with a foreign drivers license and buying insurance to allow you to drive into Mexico.  IF that can be done (seriously doubt it), it would certainly cost more than $35 per month.

Hoenning then drove to a large shopping mall that is adjacent to a large Ikea.  The mall also contained a Carrefour supermarket.  Know where we will be doing major provisioning in the future.  On the way back to the border crossing we made a detour to a store called Lidl.  Lidl is found in Germany and carries some products that Europeans enjoy.  Tati and Hoenning found the Swedish pickled fish in little jars that they had been searching for.  We found packaged pound cake which is a treat.  It is still too hot to bake anything on the boat.  And bakery cakes in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are not like cakes in America.  Their cakes are far too sweet and have an unpleasant texture.  We sometimes miss little treats like good cakes.  Not something one wants often, but something missed when it is not available.  The big find at Lidl for us was the very good ham sold there.  We will absolutely return to Lidl when it is time to provision the boat before heading to Turkey late next spring.  We will want to stock up on pork, bacon and ham since those items are difficult to find in Turkey.

UN building inside the Green Line
Last Saturday Bill and I made another trip to Nicosia -- on our own this time.  It is a long drive so we planned to spend the entire day on this trip.  And all day it was.  We made two wrong turns before we found the border crossing.  There are no signs pointing the way and the maps don't indicate any of the crossings.  Cyprus is divided by the Green Line and even today is guarded by UN troops.  What a waste of UN assets.  There are only a few places on the Green Line where crossing is allowed.  But it really is a joke these days.  There are lots of people who live on one side and work daily on the other side.  There have been no shots fired for a couple of decades.  Wonder how long the UN is going to continue to spend money 'guarding' this Green Line.  BTW, the UN building inside the Green Line at this border crossing appears very long since abandoned.  Cameras are prohibited in the area of the Green Line but cell phones are allowed; hence, this poor quality photo.

After the border crossing we turned left instead of right.  We drove about 5 miles before deciding this was definitely the wrong direction.  So we backtracked to the border crossing and went the other direction.  Success!  We drove straight to the same shopping mall.  This time I took notes.  It is a good distance to this mall but now we have good directions for the next trip.  

Bill had suggested we see a movie.  Haven't seen a movie in forever.  I think the last movie we saw was in Malaysia with Bill and Amy on S/V Estrellita.  A long time ago.  And more than 5,000 NM away.  Unfortunately, all the movies showing were like kid movies.  Nothing appealed to either of us.  The theater was next to the food court so we decided to eat lunch in the TGI Fridays.  Whoops!  Nope! Not after perusing their menu.   We placed the menus on the table and walked out.  This restaurant was packed and had a line of at least 20 people waiting for tables.  How can these folks spend this kind of money?  A burger on the menu was 14.80 Euro and a soda/Coke was 3.80 Euro.  So a single burger and drink costs 18.60 Euro, or just over $26 USD.  Are they crazy?  Are TGI Fridays priced this high back in the US?  It has been years since we had visited a Fridays, but I know prices were nowhere near this ridiculous back when we used to eat there once every month or two.  $26 for a burger and a Coke!!  Out of our price range for a casual lunch.  We don't spend $52 for lunch unless it is something special; not a simple burger and Coke.  Yet these Cypriots were lined up and waiting.  They have a different money value than we do.

Expensive pecans!!!
The only items on our shopping list were sandwich bread and new speaker headphones to use with Skype.  Bill found the headphones right near the food court.  Like this one-stop shopping.  We browsed through Carrefour for the bread.  While browsing Bill noticed small bags of unshelled papershell pecans and had to take a photo for our grandson, Zach.  There are several pecan trees in Zach's yard and he collects the nuts whenever he wants his dad to cook something special.  Hey Zach, bet you wish you could sell those nuts over here.  At the price of 6.56 Euro ($9.18 USD) for a bag no larger than my hand, Zach could make a small fortune.

We walked to the adjacent Ikea.  Man, it has been years since we have walked through one of those stores.  My big purchase there was a package of flexible acrylic cutting sheets and two silicone trivets.  Bought the cutting sheets just because this is the first time I have seen them outside the USA.  They are not quite right (the ones sold in the USA are much better), but they will do.  The silicone trivets are to place beneath things on the galley countertop to prevent sliding when underway.  We did not need these things but I bought them anyway.  Gosh, I feel just like an American consumer again.

We stopped at the Lidl store and stocked up on bottled drinking water.  I do not care for the taste of the water at the marina.  Their desalination facility does not produce the same quality as the desalinator on our boat.  We are no longer using our watermaker because there are too many occupied boats in the marina now, and I am certain that not everyone walks up to the toilets every time they answer nature's call.  We filled our tanks with water from the dock.  It tests within WHO guidelines, but I don't care for the taste.  Our watermaker produces potable water with TDS of just over 100.  The marina dockwater has TDS ranging between 360 and 490.  That is safe to drink, but it doesn't taste as pure as what we are accustomed to drinking.  

Finding the border crossing from the south side by reversing my written directions was a breeze.  In Lefkosa (the Turkish name for Nicosia, just to confuse people as much as possible), Bill snapped a photo of this building.  Democrats are everywhere now.  Wonder if Democrat means the same thing in Northern Cyprus as it does in the United States?  Probably not.  I looked it up when we got back to the boat.  The words translate to Democratic Youth Movement.  Not sure what the bee symbolizes.

Along the roadside today out in the countryside there were young boys holding up plastic bags as we drove by.  They were obviously trying to sell something; but what?  It reminded Bill and me of when we were children in Beaumont, Texas.  Young black boys would stand on the side of the road and yell, "dewberries" -- actually sounded more like "dewwww--berrrieees." 
My older brother and I would also go to the drainage ditch off old Florida Avenue and pick dewberries and sell these in the neighborhood.  But I think we sold too cheap at 25 cents for a half-gallon container.  I think the young black boys were smarter than us and demanded higher pricing.
Sheep crossing
Anyway, what were the boys holding up the plastic bags trying to sell?  Took awhile but we finally figured it out.  Olives!!  They were selling fresh olives just collected from the olive trees all out in the countryside.  We didn't buy any because I have absolutely no idea what one does with fresh olives.  Put into a brine?  Press into oil?  Cook in some way?  Don't know.  Won't be trying any fresh olives.

The other thing we saw while driving in the countryside were lots and lots and lots of sheep and goats.

Cleaning plastic bags out of the cabinet
One day I decided to clean out the bottom section of one upper cabinet in the galley.  This is to the right side of the stove.  Frequently used spices and a cereal container are on the top shelf, and the bottom section is a catch-all.  You know how every kitchen has a drawer where junk is accumulated.  That is the lower section of this cabinet.  It really is a small space.  Inside I found plastic bags, and more plastic bags, and even more plastic bags.  Every time I buy produce at a supermarket I toss the plastic bag into that cabinet.  These bags are used to dispose of garbage like onion peelings, carrot peelings, etc.  Stuff that I won't place in the big trash container beneath the kitchen sink because that doesn't get emptied daily.  Bill was shocked that so many plastic bags were stuffed into such a small compartment.

Which bank issued your credit card?
This last photo is one taken in Famagusta a few weeks ago.  We stopped at a service station (gas station) to stock up on oil for future engine oil changes.  On the cashier's counter there was a lazy-Susan covered in credit card processing machines.  The cashier was the owner of the station.  I asked her why so many machines.  She said many customers want to collect points with their credit cards and that the banks only give points if the card is processed on their own machine.  So she has machines for all the local banks.  And, no, she does not pay merchant fees for either machine rental or processing.  At first glance, I thought they were behind the times because of so many machines.  On second thought, I think this might be the way to do it.  I certainly hated paying all those merchant fees when I owned a business in Houston.  Bank competition here is so strong that they can't gouge the merchants or the consumers like is done at home.

The electricity is still not restored on the floating docks.   I am afraid it might be quite some time before electricity is restored to all of the docks.  This week the police stopped repairs on the dock where the accident happened; stating that their investigation was not yet closed.  This makes positively no sense because the wiring has already been removed from that dock.  There is nothing left as it was on the day of the accident, so it begs belief that the police have any further investigating to do on that dock.  But when police say stop; you stop.  So there will be no further electrical repair work on that particular dock -- which just happens to be the dock to which BeBe was assigned for permanent berthing.  Hopefully, the electrical re-work will continue on the other docks and boats can be reassigned to those docks with functioning electricity and water.  Others are more concerned with this than we are.  It is fine out here on the breakwater wall.  And out here we have 63 amp electrical service rather than only 15 amp service, so I don't have to worry about blowing a breaker by turning on the microwave while the a/c is running.  Also, a friend plans to visit us next month and it will be easier to go out for a few day sails from this wall than it would be from the dual-bow lines med-moored to the floating dock. 

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