The night was very long. Leaving at 2 o'clock, mooring at half past nine. It turned out one of the machines was broken, so the ship only had half strength feed. The original Scandinavian ship, built in 1974, was obviously no longer the youngest, and had already lost much of its glory. Probably experienced its zenith during its daily crossings between Sweden and Denmark, to be discarded because there came a permanent link in its place. How can a ship take revenge? The roll on/off platform at the bow was to recieve thorough maintenance. The 20 meter extra space appeared to be created to manoeuvre the trucks. They had to leave ship backwards.
So there you are, sleep still in your eyes, nothing can amaze you any more.
First on the boat ... Yahoo, last off, in reverse, damn. Makes sense?.
The row of passenger cars on the quay is short, because there were only six on board. Parking, first booth. Two men for the tax / insurance. On presentation of the green card and the payment of 20 TL (Turkish Lira) we get a paper with our plate numbers on it. Now to arrivals and the passport control. No problem, the proper stamps, a merry laugh, we get routine .
Next area. Behind us a conveyor belt for luggage as one sees at airport arrivals. The opposite wall has a duty free shop that opened its shutters, but the owner soon sees there is only a small group of newcomers and before we are finally gone it was locked again. To our right, middle of the room, contrasting with the white marble floors and walls, a wooden shed like structure that can best be described as a self carpentry 'koek en zopie tent' as seen near natural skate tracks in the Netherlands. Two hatches, one of them occupied. The fellow drivers report here with their registration, insurance papers and recently obtained little form. Since one doesn't want to be a difficult person, one adapts and gets in line, neatly. A nice lady with a unclear blue uniform, probably customs, views the documents, stamps them, takes notes and fills impressive documents, in triplicate, on critical paper, white, yellow, blue.
Good morning, Merhaba, here you are. Sigorta? (= insurance). No, we do not need, we have a green card. Cyprus is on it: CY. Ohh, but this is not Cyprus Cyprus, this is Turkish Republic of Cyprus. It is something else. Yes, but Turkey recognizes 'our' green card. (Strange that in such situations you tend to think into us and them and ours and theirs.)
Somewhere in the preparations M has read about the insurance issues, on the Internet of course. But the laptop is in the car and the extension cord is not long enough. How was it? They (here we go again) are trying to sell an expensive insurance, but it is nonsense, you just have to stand firm.
Uncompromising M points on the green card and the word 'international'. Indomitable the lady refuses to issue a certificate. She wants us to go back to that first booth, pay 90 Lira for the first month, mentioning between lines not to forget to get an extension later for another 3 months, no cost, just administrative. Complaints gentleman from the Netherlands? Seems the customer-friendly approach has been introduced here as well. No long discussion on the marble floor, but pass it on to the boss. The most-right building in the parking lot outside, upstairs, second floor, first door right, there's the head, ask there. End of discussion. M's face shows. First to outside. That's not so easy.
The policeman on duty at the exit is now obviously missing stamps and forms. The complaint handling and its resulting logistics is not yet streamlined. With a radiant smile S knows to persuade the officer to let us pass with the promise that we will come back.
Meanwhile M grumbles that without his car he has no intention to leave at all. Fortunately no one besides S understands it.
With practically steam escaping from his ears M steps into the referred building, running the two stairs, knocks on the door and enters without waiting response.
A desk, two men, one lady, a few chairs. The colour grey dominates. Atatürk at the wall. "Sigorta, insurance, problems, green card, international."
The somewhat older gentleman separates himself from the trio and askes in English for the reason of the unannounced visit. S apologizes, whispers to M that this is totally unacceptable but she shows friendliness itself.
M, not aware of any harm, shows the green card to the gentleman and asks for the reason of the refusal of the international document.
The man looks at M with an affable smile: "The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognized by the International World".
Well, what can you say against that. After an impeccable pronounced thank you in Turkish and a faint smile, onwards to the first booth after all. It slowly sinks in with M that he just stood face to face with the supreme boss of the customs in Girne, where he thought he was to wash the ears of one or the other insurance agent. Moreover, the Internet story about the insurance is true but for South Cyprus.
The two men are still in booth 1.
Suddenly the 90 appears to be 145 TL. Why? It is an expensive car. And the 20 you already took? OK, then TL 125. We clearly feel we are screwed, but the two men do not shrink. Another complaint? To be safe, we demand the amount to be written on the form.
Again to arrivals. All passport control booths are empty. Once we were here sniffed by police dogs searching for drugs. (in 2008) After all we do have Dutch passports. Now its all empty. The “koek en zopie tent” lady awaits us. This paper is more like it. Athough she ducks our 90-145 question, she keeps showing her friendly smile. We get the yellow paper. And of course our insurance papers are returned. In our view, its not really a governmental paper, but just another commercial insurance company document. We will find that out later.
Good day lady, goodbye and have fun.
Our policeman at the door, looks into the papers, browse them affectionately, clears his voice and asks where S comes from.
It looks as if every agent, customs officer, booth occupant, handyman or mechanic once came from Mersin. This always creates a – us knows us- atmosphere, after which all behave like knowing each other for years. As does this officer.
Finally outside. Around the building, through the port, deflect a customs officer, after all he was not wearinga uniform or at least didn't wear anything blue, along the now closed kiosk to the car that is now a significant obstacle. Clearly not the best way to make friends in the international truckers world.
We get in, start, someone puts a hand in the air, takes the yellow form and appears to be content.
Out of the gate and remember DRIVE LEFT.
We are in Cyprus. It is half past twelve.