Yesterday my roommate and I decided to take a trip to Troodos, one of the two mountain ranges here in Cyprus. We looked up the bus time tables and routes the day before and packed our lunches so that we would be read for our early wake up time at 5:30. In the morning, we had scheduled a taxi to pick us up and drive us fifteen minutes to the bus station just across town. We arrived at the station to find that the bus we had planned on taking was not going to come until later in the day so we got on the only other bus headed in the general direction we wanted to go and hoped for the best. After about and hour, the route ended and the bus dropped us off on the side of the road in a small village and the driver told us that a smaller bus would come by shortly and take us a bit closer to where we were headed. We got on the smaller bus and tried to explain to the driver where we were going, but he spoke very little English. Luckily, the woman in front of us was able to translate so that the driver could tell us when we needed to get off. After about twenty minutes, the driver stopped at an intersection and told us that this was where we should get off. We didn’t have a number to call a taxi in that area so we walked into a small convenience store to ask the cashier. She didn’t speak any English, but we were able to communicate what we needed and she gave us a card with a number on it. I used my small flip phone that the program provided to make local calls, but the taxi driver wasn’t available. The cashier didn’t seem to have any other number so we figured we would just start walking until we came to the next store or restaurant to ask someone else. We walked for about an hour, accompanied by two stray dogs that decided to follow us, before we finally came to the next building around and walked into an empty restaurant. A woman and her young granddaughter finally appeared and we asked the woman if she had the number for a taxi. She didn’t speak much English, but fortunately enough to have simple conversation. She made a phone call and told us we could sit and wait for twenty minutes and someone would come to pick us up. She was very kind and gave us a plate of shortbread cookies and we talked about where we were from and about her family while we waited. Finally, a man pulled up in an old work SUV labeled with a construction company logo and she told us this was it. It seemed slightly sketchy but we climbed in and he took us farther up the mountain to the start of the trail around Mount Olympus. The views along the three hour hike were certainly worth all of the struggle it took us to get there. It was a beautiful day and much cooler up there than the typical high 90s or low 100s where we have been living. The man who dropped us off at the trail had given us a number to call when we finished so called them and we were able to get a taxi easily this time. The taxi came and took us to the next trail we wanted to do, but when we arrived the man charged us €30 for only a fifteen minute ride that would typically cost only about €8-10. We didn’t have much other choice except to just pay it, but we knew we were being ripped off. We did a shorter hike that took us to Kalidonia Waterfall where we were able to cool off a bit before heading back to start our journey home. We called another taxi, this time asking for the price before we started, and it took us all the way back to where the bus had originally dropped us off. It was perfect timing and the bus came within a few minutes and took us back near our apartment in Nicosia.
Overall, it was a successful day despite the language barrier and some difficulties with transportation. I definitely appreciate cellular data much more now that I have been living without it for over two months, especially when trying to navigate in a new place. Instead of just searching for information on the internet we had to talk to locals and try to communicate which was a bit difficult at times because less English is spoken in the rural villages here. This gave us a chance to interact with the people here and to experience some things we might not have otherwise.