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January 21, 2001
January 31, 2001
February 12, 2001
February 28, 2001
March 9, 2001
March 26, 2001
April 12, 2001
April 29, 2001
May 14, 2001
May 31, 2001
June 18, 2001
July 17, 2001
August 15, 2001
September 23, 2001
November 6, 2001
November 27, 2001
January 18, 2002
November 20, 2002


Installment 7: April 12, 2001

 NOTE: This Cyprus Installment is being hosted by a guest, Assistant-Attache Jimmy. We hope you are not disappointed by the switch, but our esteemed writer is on a short trip to Metro Hyper-Market to get some last minute supplies for our weekend trip to the Karavas House in “the North.” 

For 45 dollars we are staying at one of the two houses that the US Embassy owns in “the North” for the 4-day “Easter” weekend. The house is about a block from the beach, and used to house the people that maintained a radio-listening post on Cyprus that listened in to the Turkish military radio.  In Cyprus, Good Friday and Easter Monday are both national holidays. 
So, what have we been up to since the last installment?  For one, Team In(adequate) Training made another appearance and completed its first orienteering race.  It was a 30-mile+ course, that started and finished on one of the British military bases after going up and down a mountain.

After about 5 weeks without rain, the chosen day was its chance to catch up.  It varied from a downpour to a sprinkle, but pretty much the whole day was spent running in the rain.  And mud.  Team In(adequate) Training now has two new members of the most appropriate caliber: Lance Corporal Oliver and Trooper Baile.  Not that their mothers call them that, but that is the names I was given by a friend in the United Nations who located my team mates and used in any type of discussion until I met one of them two weeks before the race.

Lance Corporal Oliver is now Andrew, and Trooper Baile is Frankie.  Andrew had run a 26-mile run once on a challenge some undetermined number of years ago, but Frankie had never run more than 7 or 8 miles at a stretch.  And both of them had been real busy lately, so we lived up to our team name.

Andrew is a cook at the UN, and a boxer, and also the only other person other than Fast Matt who gets faster and happier as time goes on.  After 5 and a half hours Andrew was spinning around while he ran, checking on everyone else’s progress, and encouraging Frankie to “run and catch the Gurkas, come on, do it for me!” 

After the first few hours Frankie (understandably) cramped up so bad that you could see the muscles in his legs spasm.  It is strange enough to run with someone who is running while cramped for hour after hour, moaning “my legs are burning, they’re burning,” but the more amazing thing was that whenever we got to a downhill, no matter how much his legs were cramping, he could run full speed. 

He would go from almost being in tears to running a 10K pace over a distance of 25 yards.  So I just rested when he was hurt, and tried to stay up with him on the way down.  “We had a good time of it,” “Good show,” “Good Effort!”  I learned a lot of Scottish slang from Andrew while running wearing my gurkin in the good Scottish pisser.

And we got to run for 6 hours and 45 minutes, which is a new record for me (and should stay that way for a long, long time).  We were the 4th all-male team to finish, and probably the 6th or 7th overall.  Our friends on the all-women team finished in 6 hours and 15 minutes.  One chipper mixed-team finished in 5 hours and 20 minutes or so. I have no idea how.

Other than that event, the next big thing is that Janie made it back to running.  She has run on the track twice now and her knee is feeling okay.  This is good for us both, since now we can get back to drinking with the running club on Tuesday nights. 

Janie is a celebrity there.  They all ask how her knee is and when will she be back.  Janie and I are going to host the May 17th Nicosia Horrible Hash-House Harriers (NH4) run.  I helped someone else a few weeks ago, and marked the course for the starting two checkpoints, and lost the entire short-runners (that means they don’t have to go as far, not their stature) group.  If you ever mark the course and lose runners, that’s not good.  They whine and make you drink beer and pour beer on your head.  So Janie and I will try to not let them get lost.  We plan on hosting the hash at the Marble Palace if anyone wants to try to make it.

Life is not all fun and games though.  Sometimes I have to work.  Well, everyday I have to go to work, but sometimes I have to work.  The work itself is pretty good, and whenever I go to one of the Cypriot government offices I get free “Cypriot” coffee (which is really Greek coffee, which is really Turkish coffee.)  There are secretaries who make copies and type up reports and make coffee.  Sometimes, if there is a special event, like it is Tuesday, then you also get a danish.  We finally had our first USGS meeting with our Turkish-Cypriot “colleagues” today.  More coffees, and danishes, and of course Power-Point presentations with bulleted lists, but that is about as far as it’s gone.   

Janie is also working.  She has two fun temporary jobs. One is teaching orientation (not “orienteering”) classes to Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot students that are going to American universities in the fall on Fulbright Scholarships. 

The list of schools that they are applying to is something else.  Almost every one of them is going to the schools that none (few) of us could ever get into.  Janie is forced to modify some of the handouts that she is expected to pass out to the students since she can’t bring herself to tell them that “people don’t do this” and “this is wrong in America” when she doesn’t agree.  Most students want to go to New York City or Los Angeles.  Go figure.

Her other job is interviewing high-school students who are applying for summer peace camps where Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot kids are supposed to meet and discuss peace.  They write an essay and then Janie has seven minutes to interview them, and three minutes to write up an evaluation. 

Then a few minutes of break during which time Janie hears the other interviewers complain about this or that and make inappropriate comments.  But the students that she interviews are the good thing about the job.  They are all idealists, and are really ready to take the reigns and fix the “Cyprus Problem.” 

One was a poet, and gave Janie a book of her poetry, and one was an artist, one was a surfer, and they all take part in 3 or 4 sports, and with only one reported exception, they are fluent English speakers. (Yes, one girl could say very clearly “Could you please repeat the question?”  That was about it.  She will probably be fluent next year.)

Well, that is it for your guest writer.  We are that much closer to our weekend trip, and it is sunny and warm outside.  We will try to find where the surfer surfs.  And drink Turkish coffee for a change, and spend somewhere around 50 or 60 million lira for an extravagant weekend.  We hope everyone has a Happy Easter.

Love, Jimmy and Janie










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