Cyprus - let’s hit the Middle East ;)

Since October 10th 2013: 142 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home and min 24 hrs in each country.
This is a lovely “rock” in the Mediterranean 
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I’m pretty happy with the last blog! Did you read it? Did I get much rest since last week? Nope...of course not. I really need to slow down and hurry home. Oh no?! That’s a contradiction. Oh well...I’ll get it both done somehow...
The crowdfunding can be found here:
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Day 1 of crowdfunding!! Wow, what a start!
We’re in Cyprus!! It’s an amazing country of many nationalities and a United Nations buffer zone which splits it down through 38% on one side and 62% on the other. Who lives where? The Cypriots live on both sides and they both happen to have 3 eyes, 2 arms, a nose, 2 arms, 2 legs, who knows how many hearts? Yes! I wrote 3 eyes...the 2 eyes most of us have and the “evil eye” which is famously know around the Mediterranean Sea and protects them from evil. Everyone here has passion for the most common things such as sports, family, food, music and weather. The last one is just perfect around here right now. Not too cold and not to warm. The Cypriots are loving it. 2 people separated by a line and common passions. Ridiculous? Not ridiculous, it’s complicated. There is only 1 country here on the Mediterranean’s 3rd largest island. It is called Cyprus. The United Nations agrees all but 1 nation. The EU fully agrees. The African Union fully agrees. Where is the debate? Well Turkey has a different view on the subject. You have 4 groups of people that have something to say about this: the Cypriot Turks, the Cypriot Greek, the Turks and the Greeks.
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You’ll find plenty of Greek and Turkish flags around here. People know where they came from. Since 1960 there was 1 nation here and the flag used on the Cypriot Greek side was designed by a Turkish Cypriot. Irony - huh? On the Cypriot Turkish side you’ll find yet another flag which resembles the Turkish flag if you reverse the colors. My flag is the Danish flag and happens to be the oldest national flag in the world. I’m proud of it!! Here people also have a lot to be proud about. Who does Cyprus belong to? It depends largely on which year you are living in. Go back far enough and it used to belong to Neptune - the king of the sea...what is Cyprus today used to be the bottom of the sea and it is still rising towards the sky today. Everyone had their time: Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, Brits... in 1974 the Turks invaded the northern part of Cyprus in what they called Operation Atilla. That’s a very real and undisputed part of history. What lead to the invasion? Well today that largely depends on who you speak to. The Cypriots on both side have their versions and history has a version too. Have you ever heard that there are 3 truths? Your truth, my truth and the truth in the middle.
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Cyprus is a dry country and the rain I brought was much needed.
Let’s get on with it...
I have had a very warm welcome here in Cyprus. Salamis Shipping invited me onboard their cargo vessel to get here. BeFlexi arranged for it. I was immediately invited to stay in a local home in the divided capital Nicosia. Meals were paid for. In my first week I barely spent €20. I wasn’t allowed to pay for anything. We laughed and laughed. My host was amazing but has asked to remain neutral on my social media. That is genuine hospitality! There’s nothing mysterious about my host but I both value and respect privacy so that’s the end of that. 
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At the airport once again to pick up a guest.
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Then my father arrived by the luxury of flight. I don’t miss flight although my life would be a lot easier with it. Flight is not a part of our journey to every country in the world ;)
My father is a highly competent sales and businessman who has done well for himself. It had its sacrifices to get him to where he is. He is full of stories, he likes to entertain, he writes songs and plays the guitar at every chance he gets. I’m proud of my heritage. My mother and father both. They are remarkable people. Did my father allow me to pay for anything while he was here? Keep dreaming!!! I never got a chance. My father has even donated BIG to the crowdfunding campaign which I’m watching closely. 148 people have donated the first 17% of the campaign!! How crazy is that? More than 30,000 people support the Saga on various social media and 148 people have donated $8,000 already? All we needed was $2 from everyone and we would be more than done. Let’s see how we reach the remaining 83%? 
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My father and I lived at a hotel near the beach and never touched the water. The ocean is nice but we were busy talking, turning ideas up and down, being together, seeing a few sights and trying to understand Cyprus through our eyes. It’s a wonderful country with so much to see and do. No wonder it’s so desired. It’s a very safe country to visit too! You can almost leave stuff lying around without worrying about anyone taking it. Crime is really low.
He took his business with him and had to work now and again:
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Cypriots hold a lot of value in religion. Saint Lazaros Church is dated in the early 10th century.
IMG 2910 sent me a new Northface duffelbag to replace the old one which has survived 4 continents, 142 countries and above 185,000 km! Good job and thank you Friluftsland :)
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We found time to watch the new Blade Runner 2049! Great movie!!
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We had a proper Cypriot dinner!!! You won't leave the table hungry!!
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We found out that this was our first bus ride together - ever!! :)
My dad has been on beach vacations countless times in Turkey and was curious about what it would be like to cross the checkpoints in Nicosia (Cyprus' divided capital)? People online have been asking me if I was going to cross and I hardly saw the importance in doing so. It was however something to do and a few days ago my dad and I crossed over the United Nations Buffer Zone in to see what life was like on the other side. There are 3 open checkpoints.
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Ledra Street checkpoint before crossing the buffer zone from south to north.
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The view from Shacolas tower across the buffer zone. Notice the flags on the mountain. They are lit up at night.
To my great surprise people over there had 2 arms, 2 legs, 1 nose, 10 fingers, 2 eyes, they drank tea and coffee, they ran their business, they cared for family, they took selfies, they knew about football, they enjoyed music, they ate know...if you didn’t know better you just might confuse them for being like people on the Greek Cypriot side ;) I know this is a bit of a repetition from the entry of this blog but it’s a very valid point!
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Across the checkpoint we found this map of inner Nicosia which is united and shows no trace of the buffer zone.
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St. Sophia Cathedral (1209-1570) was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans in 1570 and remains in practice.
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In 1974 Turkish military forces went ahead with OPERATION ATILLA which on the Greek Cypriot side is know as an invasion and according to them leaves the Turkish Cypriot side occupied until this day. What lead up to Operation Atilla in 1974? Well’s in the past. I once stole my sisters diary, read it and made her life really difficult for a while. Now it’s been nearly 30 years and while she hated me back then she recently came to visit me for a week and today we love, respect and care for each other. There isn’t a country in the world which doesn’t need to be forgiven for something. That’s pretty much a fact. Another fact is that people in Cyprus are tired and just want a solution. It won’t get here tomorrow but at least tomorrow it will hopefully be 1 day closer to reality. My dad and I walked across the checkpoints which was super easy. He asked if we had arrived to a new country? I replied: “if I entered a new country every time I crossed a checkpoint then I would have been to 1,000 countries already”.
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Büyük Han (Great In) was built as a caravansarai by the Ottomans in 1572.
We had a great time on the Turkish Cypriot side. We didn’t venture further than what we could walk but we did manage to leave the tourist area for a bit to see what life was really like a bit further in and away from tourism. It looked like this:
Me: “which side would you rather live on?”
Dad: “I don’t think it matters much as long as the checkpoints stay open”.
Me: “my thoughts exactly!”
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The “Cypriot situation” may stay unchanged for a long time to come but it’s really peaceful today. The opening of the 3 checkpoints were an attempt to normalize conditions and allow people on both sides to connect. A smart move I believe and the UN soldiers appear more busy looking into smartphones than anything else. It’s a very peaceful situation as far as I’m concerned and largely based on dialogue or lack of same. I hope you’ll enjoy the photos. People are just people. 
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Bruno is the Managing Director of BeFlexi and has been a very helpful friend since before I reached Cyprus! :)
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Sergey (far left) is the owner and you'll hear more about him later on. Check out what BeFlexi wrote after I visited them:
Right! So what’s the “escape plan” from Cyprus? Well who would want to leave? I’ve meet with the Red Cross here in Cyprus a few times and they are doing a great job. Cyprus used to be a transit destination for refugees who wanted to reach other European countries but there are reports showing that more and more refugees wish to settle in Cyprus. Smart move if you’re looking for a temporary or permanent home away from persecution, armed conflict or other horrors.
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I had the pleasure of visiting the Cyprus Red Cross Society Children Therapy Centre Stella Soulioti. A mouthful - I know! Nevertheless massively impressive in every way:
Well, I really want to see home again some day so I do need to leave and there is a freight ship which goes regularly between Cyprus and Lebanon. The owners are Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which are Italian and the second largest in the world behind Maersk Line (Danish). Globally no. 3 is CMA-CGM (French). Maersk Line has as you may very well know been very helpful and I have been onboard 6 of their massive container ships. It remains to be seen if MSC will help the Saga or stand this one out? Alternative routes to Lebanon may be found among the yacht and sailboat community at one of the marinas. I may even be forced to return to Greece and Turkey and make my way from there? Swimming is another option :)
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What are the Cypriots like? Well island people have common trades. Around here time is a bit fluid. Not much moves on time or rapidly. Coffee and conversation is king! Sitting for several hours is very common. There is hardly any “ice” between you and a stranger around here. For heck’s sake...I met a wonderful woman today who quickly offered me a ride, we detoured past her home where I met the family and had pasta before being offered a 45 minute ride back to Larnaca by her son in law! Larnaca is one of the main cities and a popular beach destination. Larnaca was the base for my father and I. Limassol is another coastal city and hosts the main port so that will become my new home starting tomorrow. I’ve got friends there but you’ll hear more about that later! ;)
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Fooling around in the dark at the Castle of Larnaca before he flew home :)
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There might be 30 years of experience between my dad and I...but we can still be childish together ;)
Let’s see if we can soon reach 20% on the crowdfunding campaign. I might sleep through some of the campaign but I promise to aim at inspiring, educating and entertaining in between! ;)
Thank you! :)
Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - zzzzzz :)
"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"
Once Upon a Saga
Made by Kameli