Dear Mum,

It’s been very cold this week. Overnight temperatures at sea level have been hovering just above freezing point. The days have been sunny for the most part with temperatures around 15C. No sign of any rain yet which the island so desperately needs. January is supposed to be a rainy month here, but it’s rained in Larnaca on just one day so far this month.

But in spite of the cold, there’s something about life on this island which definitely puts you in a better frame of mind than living in the UK. Maybe it’s because the sun shines at least 300 days a year and you know that this cold spell is very temporary. It makes a difference. Undoubtedly.

Or maybe it’s simply because there are fewer people per square paving slab than in the UK, and it’s so much easier to get on with everyone. There’s none of the aggression caused by overcrowding.

One aspect of life here that I particularly like is the respect with which they treat elderly folk. It’s instilled from an early age. And it’s something which is sadly lacking in the UK where the elderly are often treated like second-class citizens.

Just the other day, I witnessed an event which brought this home to me. It was in a narrow street with cars parked on the pavement on both sides of the road, and an elderly lady was making her way along the side of the street at a very sedate pace.

You take your life in your hands in Cyprus when you leave the relative safety of the pavement and venture out onto the road. Cypriot motorists are a mad lot. I wrote somewhere that the best advice I can give to anyone coming to Cyprus is to always look both ways before crossing a one-way street. They just don’t care.

So, when this elderly lady came to the parked cars blocking the pavement, she simply walked in the middle of the road, holding up all the traffic while she hobbled along.

The thing which I found fascinating is that none of the motorists showed any sign of anger. No tooting of horns. No “Get out of the road you dopey old cow!”. They all sat there patiently in their cars while this senior citizen ambled past the parked vehicles and returned to the pavement.

Respect. It was great to see.


©MPB 18/January/2008


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