It turns out that I’m at the wrong gate. I narrowly avoid a flight to Mexico City. My plane started boarding 30 minutes ago from a different portal. I don’t rush. This is Greece, the aircraft won’t leave on time.
I arrive at Gate 7 and look for the line for my flight. In the birthplace of democracy, no man has the right to stand before another. Rich or poor, early or late we are all created equal. But if one more equal person cuts in line in front of me, I swear to God I’m going to hurt someone!
A sweet, little old Greek grandmother cuts in front of me. Motherf@#$&er!!! I do nothing. Greek culture has thoroughly inoculated its’ people against foreign concepts like waiting in line. My childlike, American bluster is incomprehensible to these modern descendants of Graeae’s daughters, the ancient trio of witches who shared and eye and a tooth between them. This 2,000 year-old civilization has sacked and burned whole cities for less.
The Aegean Air flight starts with an attempt at involuntary castration by my tray (seats are tiny). An angelic stewardess walks along the plane with a wicker basket. Her yellow hair, sleeveless blue dress and red apron frame a militant rainbow of service. She hands each passenger a dark, foil wrapped piece of candy. Every passenger before me eats it.
I’m getting a serious Jonestown poison Kool-Aid vibe here. As piece after piece of hard, amber pops into unsuspecting mouths, I ask the stewardess if the captain got his candy. My reply is a weird look. But that is followed by a reassuring “No”.
We land without issue at Lanarca airport in the southwest of Cyprus. Sign after sign offers to whore out E.U. citizenship in return for your money. Pictures of yachts and pre-dot.com ballers decorate the arrival area.
A tall but not Greek looking gentleman named Hassan greets me. He sports traditionally cool 3-day old stubble and shades. We take his car northward towards the demilitarized zone. Hassan is a really nice guy, but English is not his forte. When he sees that my Maui Jim sunglasses are broken (a gift from a red head over a decade ago), he offers me his. Kind people scare me. It wouldn’t even occur to me to do this. I’d channel my new spirit guide Leroy Merlin and say, “well then, squint Motherf@#$&er squint!!!”
The car’s steering wheel is on the British side. England was here too? God, I wish I’d paid more attention in history class. We drive through suburban developments that abruptly end with a barbed wire border. Greece’s front line against another Turkish invasion is white, low income housing.
The checkpoint going into Turkey is laid back and friendly. I think that like East Berlin, not a lot of people go this way?? (I later find out this is completely wrong). We exit the checkpoint and keep going. Suddenly the crowded buildings die off. Large swaths of sparse, green fields whip by me. Everywhere I look there are 2 flags – 1 red and 1 white flag with a large “C”. No more Greek letters, everything is written in Turkish.
Hassan turns to me in his seat, pauses, and says “building not too much.” He means how rural it’s suddenly become after leaving Greece? Nope, we’re almost at the factory. The houses we pass are 1 or 2 stories, always a uniform yellow, brown or white. We stop at an intersection by a red, octagonal