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November 8th, 2010 | Asia

Tasucu and the Ferry to Cyprus…

With more time on my hands than I had anticipated, I found myself at a bit of a loose end in Tasucu… There was little scope for mischief, as the town was practically deserted, and my sense of humour usually requires a basic understanding of the English language, something that is generally lacking here…!!

I took a few walks along the shoreline of the bay; skimming stones across the flat waters, watching them skip and curve away, before dropping below the surface… After barely a dozen throws, my right elbow reminded me that it was not in the best of condition, and my brain dutifully called a halt to the festivities…

It's tough here in Tasucu... The crowds are a bit of a bother...!!

As usual, a stray dog joined me, and together we walked to the very far end of the beach, to where it joins the harbour wall, and then back again… The dog stayed with me all the way, reminding me of our two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, for who a trip to the beach was always the highlight of their day…!!

On a trip into town to get some supplies, I met a student from the local College, who followed me on his bike until I stopped to chat to him… He suggested we park our bikes and then proceeded to take me on a guided tour of the area… After a longish walk, which almost took us back to my hotel, he stopped abruptly and pointed to a neat house on my left…

Ataturk House, where the father of the nation spent a few days each year relaxing and soaking up the rays...!!

“This is the holiday home of Ataturk,” he said proudly… “He used to come here every year, to spend a few days of rest…”

We turned then and walked back to where the bikes were parked, and he pointed out other homes that were boarded up for the winter…

“These are the homes of the rich Germans and Swiss, who spend the summer here. Many of them visit here, and without them, our town would not be in a good economical position…!”

It was good to hear a local actually give credit to the tourists who spend their money here, rather than the usual talk about how badly they behave and how their women are enticed away from their boyfriends and husbands by the fun loving visitors…!!

On one of my walks I heard a constant hammering coming from the parking area near the fishing harbour… (There are four individual harbours on the bay, all serving different craft…) I walked over to see what was being repaired and saw that a fishing boat was being built…

Tasucu boat builder... I sat watching as he hammered the hull together...

I sat down in the shade of another boat close by and watched the guy hammering away, attaching planks to the thick ribs of the hull… The owner of the new boat came over to chat to me when he saw that I was interested in the process, and advised that the boat would take a month to complete…

Once the hull with all its planking had been hammered into place, it would be ready to be fibre-glassed, painted and then be ready for work… His old boat lay nearby, in a serious state of disrepair, and the new boat was urgently needed to begin earning him money again…

The deserted Otel Olba... The Big Fella and I had the entire place to ourselves...

After collecting the tickets for the ferry to Cyprus, ( The Big Fella cost 100.00 TKL, about R500.00, and I was “free”…!!) and being told that I needed to be at the harbour at 8.00 pm., I spent the afternoon packing all my gear away and getting it tied down onto the bike…

By 5.30 pm it was already dark, and while I considered taking a quick nap, I decided against it, terrified of oversleeping and missing my berth on the ferry… So I spent the last few hours trying to make the staff understand that I might well be back here in a few days, and would need a room once more…

It would have been easier explaining the workings of an atom bomb to a class of kinder-garden children…!! I fully expect to have to search for another place to stay on my return to Tasucu…!!

I arrived at the harbour gates at the appointed time, and saw that a long line of trucks was already there… The gates were still shut, and we were told to wait for “about half an hour” before they would open… The ferries (four of them) were all due to sail at about midnight, so “waiting” became the name of the game…!!

The waiting begins...!! Outside the harbour gates in Tasucu...

After being ushered through Port Entry Control and required to pay a “port surcharge” of 20.00 TKL for the bike and 10TKL for myself (About R150.00 in total), the smaller vehicles were allowed to enter the harbour and park close to where the ferries were docked…

Then it was the turn of the articulated trucks…and there were plenty of them…!! Once they had all entered the harbour area, we began the long process of passport control, police clearance, customs declarations, and any other official who felt the need to put a stamp on a piece of paper…!!

I was joined by a Dutch couple, Lucien and Sandra Hartman, and would probably have gone out of my mind with boredom, had it not been for them…!! They had just returned from Jordan and Syria, where they drove around in their Landrover Defender, and were now popping over to Cyprus to spend some time there before driving back to Holland…

We chatted about their trip, and I gained some valuable ideas for my own visit to these countries, which I was due to enter in barely a week’s time…

And then there was more waiting while the ferries began loading...

The Big Fella was squeezed up between the bulkhead and a huge truck...

Loading of the four ferries began at 11.00 pm, and by midnight, we were no closer to sailing than we had been an hour earlier…!! It took another two hours before our ferry; the “Tasucu” slipped its moorings and headed out to sea… There were 10 trucks and a small van to keep the Big Fella company on the six hour trip… Ours was the smallest of the ferries, and despite being the second to leave the harbour, managed to arrive last in Girne…!!

It was almost impossible to sleep on the uncomfortable chairs on the ferry, and I spent time up on the deck, peering out into the inky blackness to follow the progress of the other three ferries.

One of the deckhands, who had lived in Germany for thirty years before returning to Turkey, spoke passable English, and we sat chatting about nothing in particular for a while…

Then he managed to find some vodka and coke, and after a few portions of this, began speaking in a mixture of Turkish, German and English, which I found rather difficult to follow…

To even things out a bit, I began speaking to him in SiSwati and Afrikaans, to see how long it would take to shut him up… I don’t think he ever noticed that I had switched from English, as he continued to chatter away, replying to my explanations about the high price of cattle in Southern Africa, by telling me about the time he fell off a boat and almost drowned in Hamburg harbour…!!

I quickly realized that the only way to shut him up, would be to pitch him overboard, and before the seed of this idea could germinate in my mind, I excused myself and went in search of some peace and quiet…

I dozed for about an hour, and then noticed that outside, it was getting lighter. I hurried back onto the upper deck to take a few photos of the sunrise…

Sunrise over the Eastern Mediterranean...

It was one of those rare ones that I will remember for a long time… A few scattered clouds hung out over the water, and the bright disc of the sun peeped out from behind them, it rays covering the water in a path of molten silver, leading right up to the ferry…

It was one of the few “right place at the right time” moments for me…!! A fantastic welcome to the new day…!!

Far in the distance, I could just make out an unbroken chain of mountains that stretched from one end of Northern Cyprus on my left, to that on the Eastern end on my right… Still, it was another two hours before we finally docked in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus…

My Dutch friends, Lucien and Sandra Hartman... Chatting to them made the 6 hour wait in a Turkish harbour, barely noticeable...!! Thanks, Guys...!!

While my Dutch friends hurried off to see if their Defender (which had been loaded onto one of the other ferries) was still in one piece, I strolled down to the lower deck to prepare the Big Fella for disembarking… I had been the last vehicle onto the ferry, and was practically the last one off…

Arriving in Girne harbour, after 6 hours out at sea...

Justin and Tony from the northern part of England, were also on the ferry, and were delivgering a car to the Turkish part of the island... Not sure about that faraway look on Tony's face, but I thin the ride through Turkey had taken it's toll on the poor guy...!!

Then the waiting game began again… It was another two hours before I was finally allowed to leave the port area, after having my passport stamped, buying insurance (where I was expertly fleeced for the last 40.00 TKL left in my wallet…!!) and signing customs clearance forms which I hardly understood…!!

Getting onto the tiny island of Cyprus, had been just as bad as entering some of the African countries I had visited in the first part of my journey… Having had much practice at this, I took this in my stride, smiling and joking with the officials, despite feeling the sweat trickling down my neck and back in the much warmer temperatures than I had experienced in Turkey…

Leaving the ferry... I was last on, and almost last off...!! Justin took this photo...

It was with much relief that I finally rode out of the harbour gates and into the quiet streets of Girne…

After being stuck on No: 58 for more than a month, the Gypsy Biker’s Country Counter was ticking again…!!

©GBWT 2010

6 comments to Tasucu and the Ferry to Cyprus…

  • Mark Behr

    Hope Cyprus has some interesting tales to tell. Have fun !

  • Kim

    The crowds in Tasucu… how you coped I don’t know!!! At least now you have another profession to add to your CV – building boats could come in handy sometime in the future.
    Cyprus in summer is a blast, but I don’t know what you gonna think of the place in winter – have a blast anyway
    BIG kisses
    K

  • Brian Geyer

    When the going gets tuff, just remember….. there are a lot of us who would love to be in your shoes.
    May this Cyprus trip be fantastic. As Mark says…. have fun.

  • Lucien and Sandra

    Hi Ronnie!

    How is your time in Cyprus? Fantastic story! We’re down in Pafos now, enjoying the sunny life and good food, ahhh after Syria and Jordan very welcome…
    Drive safely and who know’s… See you another time in another country!

    Greetings,
    Lucien and Sandra
    (The new friends of the ferry to Cyprus)

  • Lucia

    Business today consists in persuading crowds …

  • Hi Guys…!! I was in Pafos yesterday…!! I had a feeling you would be in that area…There are many camping grounds on the peninsula near Polis… I’ll be heading that way again on Sunday, maybe we will hook up then…!! Cheers, and enjoy your stay in Cyprus…!! R.

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