I live in Limassol. For those of you unfamiliar with this fantastic island, it is the town near the panhandle at the bottom of the island. Limassol is the centre of commerce, with a number of large offshore companies based in the town. My town is a tourist destination also, providing a happy medium between the relaxed sleepiness of Paphos and the loud debauchery of Ayia Napa. We also have some other important points of interest, such as ancient ruins (too many to count), beautiful beaches (too many to count) and roads full of potholes (too many to count).
I hate driving on these roads... I hate driving behind people (usually older people) who go at 30 kmph and don’t indicate. The indicator has been handily placed next to the steering wheel for a purpose. It is there to be used.
Nobody seems to know how to indicate in Cyprus. Either they will indicate after turning, or indicate two miles before the turning or not at all.
This is because drivers in Cyprus are selfish. Women drivers, often seen in SUVs are particularly selfish. You see, I love women- they are soft and pretty and smell nice, they have lovely smiles and even when they exasperate me and infuriate me I just want to give them a cuddle (okay, maybe not just a cuddle). Women are lovely. But not when they drive.
I am not sure why, but the cliché is almost a universal truth. Male drivers take more risks, but women drivers are just annoying. I hate being stuck behind them. I hate having to explain to them what a one-way street is or why, exactly, we should stop at a stop sign. But, at least, if a woman driver gets pissed off she won’t get out of her car and start banging on my window, like that guy did when I stopped at a red light with two girls in a car behind me. He wasn’t even in the same lane. He could have turned right and driven away. But he chose to get out and slam my window to ask me why I had stopped.
“Re malaka, can’t you see the women behind you are waiting?” he yelled.
“Can’t you see the right in front of me is red, you moron?” I muttered below my breath.
Just then, the light changed and I flew off, leaving him standing screaming at no one in particular. Fittingly, the guy in the car behind him was honking his horn at him.
Aside from driving too fast or too slow, not indicating, speeding up at yellow lights and occasionally driving through red lights, the Cypriot driver specialises in one more thing. We are good at parking just about anywhere. We want to park as close to the shop or office which we’re going to, or preferably in it, and after driving around for ten minutes to find a parking spot, the Cypriot driver is willing to dump his (or her) car just about anywhere, including the middle of the roundabout if necessary, just to get things over with. And if and when we park somewhere inappropriate, we will just turn on the hazard lights.
In most countries these are the flashing lights people switch on to indicate that they have been involved in an accident or to alert other drivers to a problem. In Cyprus, they are used when a driver decides to leave a car in the middle of the road or outside someone’s gate. Far from indicating that there is a problem, all they do is indicate that the driver is a selfish moron. They are not “I am in trouble” lights; they are “I just don’t give a rat’s ass” lights.
Of course we’ve all used our hazard lights in such a way. Even I have. And I’ve driven away from that pavement where I blocked the oncoming traffic, with those flashing lights still on, indicating to the world that either my car or I am in need of serious professional help.
Nobody’s perfect, even though I get pretty close sometimes. And even if you come from a place like Switzerland, where I expect the traffic is as well organised and runs as smoothly as the inside of a Breitling watch, you too can learn to drive the Cypriot way: like a selfish douchebag.
Although if you somehow end up in front of me going 30 in a 50 km area, not indicating, and not letting me overtake you, expect to be called everything under the sun. In fact, “selfish douchebag” would be the most innocent of the expressions I might use.
(c) Lucas Psillakis November 2008