A chance to visit a place probably/hopefully unique in the whole universe.

A road or the road.

 

In the case of Cyprus, consider Pol Pot's* killing fields but with more tarmac, better signposted and with decorative white/yellow stripes - This approach to the subject will probably bring you closest to the reality of the situation especially when you consider that the roads of Cyprus are usually furrowed with trenches for the new sewerage system.  Protective crash barriers may or may not be supplied ay the whim of those doing the digging.

 

The average Cypriot othigos is a danger to road users on a par with a landmine. A large number of vehicles on the road are manufactured in Japan to less than European standards but despite their fragility are driven with a bravado worthy of a Challenger tank.

Visitors to Cyprus tend to make a surprising number of wildly inaccurate assumptions about the thromos in believing it to be similar to the English road or highway.  It is, but only visually.

To reduce the risk engendered by these errors, please note the following differences.


1. Road markings. 
These purely decorative additions to the tarmac are used to make foreign visitors feel at home.

No self-respecting Greek will consider them relevant to which side of the road he ought to drive on. He simply chooses the side that currently is most appropriate to his needs, especially when cornering or at road junctions. The oncoming traffic is responsible for its own decisions in the area of evasive action.

This element of enhanced personal responsibility applies also to pedestrians and zebra crossings - light controlled or otherwise.

The pavement is for pedestrians, assuming it is not being driven on, although it doubles as a parking area if the othigos chooses to leave his car and become a pedestrian.


2. Speed limits.

Rather than a firm instruction punishable under law, these constitute fatherly advice from the state with reference to how fast they would probably go if they were you but only if that’s OK for you.

Since most othigous (pl.) left home long ago, the do not feel constrained to listen to parental advice however well meant.

In many ways travelling at 95 kph in a 50 kph zone next to a nursery school at throwing out time is a demonstration of maturity and independence rather than simple negligance.


3. Traffic lights.

These are viewed in the same light as speed limits, although there is some confusion about this.

Othigous will urge you to respect the red light as an instruction, whilst they do not.

Perhaps they are colour blind and do not realize the one at the top means "Stop" whatever its hue, or alternatively what they are really yelling as they pile into you is "Love the lights, what are they for?" and you just cannot them because the siren on the ambulance is too loud.


4. Parking.

A car with it's engine running is being driven and therefore may be positioned anywhere its driver wants on the road.

A car without its engine running is parked, regardless of where it may be positioned anywhere on the road.

Whereas the Americans term the hand brake the "Parking brake", the Cypriots have the "Parking key", alias the ignition switch.  Whether they are on double yellow lines, in the fast lane of a motorway, outside the main door of the casualty department of a busy hospital or on top of a screaming pedestrian, they turn the key and walk away knowing their responsibility to their fellow road users is fulfilled.


5. Respect for other road users.

Indicators, dipping headlights, Hand signals, (bar for the obscene), following road or junction priorities and observing stopping distances mark the (usually foreign) driver as a limp wristed, timid fop who should sit in the back with his teddy and let his mother get on with the driving.

He is not to be taken seriously and is ignored or else laughed at and favoured with lavish displays of "manly driving". This covers the rigorous exclusion of any of the above whilst following rules 1-4.


6. Diversions - due to problems with the road or traffic.

Elsewhere than in Cyprus, a diversion sign effectively means "Do not go this way, go that way." A suitable alternative route being indicated.

In Cyprus it means, "Look, just go away, preferably somewhere over there."

Following a single initial diversion sign will leave you without further guidance lost and confused in previously unmapped towns and villages, in the middle of ploughed fields, on the brink of precipitous cliffs on the opposite side of the island or in the Turkish sector probably being shot at.


7. The Highway code.

This work of fiction about a hypothetical utopian society is not to be confused with the British publication of the same name. It is soon to be a major motion picture starring one of Cyprus' leading comedians, assuming he survives the journey to the studio.

 

*Pol Pot, also Pol Porth or Tol Saut, pseudonym of Saloth Sar (1928-1998), Cambodian guerrilla commander and political leader, generally considered responsible for the devastation of his country under the Khmer Rouge.

Thromos