My own little protest against the dividing line, I particularly enjoy using my different passports when taking my Sunday strolls across the border. I always have to remember: pull out from my left pocket my Canadian passport when entering or leaving the Turkish side, and use my Czech passport in my right pocket for the Greek side.
It always gives me a chuckle to so easily get around ridiculous bureaucracy.
In crossing the buffer zone between these border checks so often I notice what looks like a Peruvian in a UN police outfit. The next time I cross I approach for a chat, the Peruvian is no longer there but rather a very tall white guy. He says he is Dutch and that he has worked here on and off for seven years. He confirms that there are indeed some Peruvian UN police officers. He also confirms there are Slovakian, Croatian, and Hungarian military on the island, and that the UN police in the capital are drawn from many countries around the world. I ask him what he thinks of the situation, if any progress has been made during his service there, and if he sees any hope for the future.
He responds as I expect, and rather summed it up nicely: “No, these little children will bicker forever and I see no hope in a union”.
But the city does make an interesting tourist experience. Eventually that too comes to an end and I am on the way to the port.
I decide to be a real tourist and drive one last time through the mountains, but along a path I have not yet taken. I spend a night or two on the island’s highest point – Mount Olympus. My big Blue Beast makes a slow chug to the top. I am disappointed, although I should have expected it, that the absolute highest point is hogged by the Greek military. I settle for second best and spent the weekend finishing a translation job as close to the peak as I can get, next to the top of a ski lift. It is a refreshing change from the rising heat of the capital.
At the top, in the centre of the island, it gets fairly cold at night and spots of snow can still be seen. This affirms for me my theory that I can regulate my temperature by adjusting my elevation – not only my latitude.
After the weekend I drive down to the port, stay there a few days getting ready for my fantastic return to the European continent. I am gleefully anticipating my first-time exploration of the Greek coast.
I carefully calculate my funds to cover the 700 Euro shipping costs, in order to leave me about 400 Euro or more to drive up along the Greek coast. At the payment counter, the shipping company woman points out that I also have to pay a port tax on both ends, which turns out to be around 300 Euro total. Of course I am perturbed, but the wheels are set in motion and I simply want to get off the island. More money is coming soon from a translation customer anyway.
For some reason things often get more complicated once I have put the wheels in motion. Remember I had wanted to ship out just before Christmas last year; starting this year they have made a new rule that you can only sleep in your truck for the crossing if it is at least 26 metres long. Mine is a mere 6.5, so I am forced to fly to Athens, leaving my beloved truck unattended in the ship. That means, with the port tax, I am now up to 1000 Euro, plus some 150 Euro for the plane fare and bus/taxi from the airport to the mainland shipping port. As usual, my hard-earned cash is quickly running low.
I pay the fares and show up exactly on time the next morning, ready to go. I leave myself some time to spare, since I will have to rush to another city after dropping off my truck to catch a plane to Athens. Once back on the continent I will have to rush to a neighbouring port to pick my truck up as it comes in.
As usual though, all my previous planning crumbles in my hands.