Last Sunday, we attended our first lunch gathering with some church friends. We “accidentally” bumped into them, asking for information about church service times. But it was a welcomed accident because they ushered us into their fellowship time and welcomed us in with immediate kindness. J&M are a family from South Africa who now reside in Cyprus. They invited another newcomer to the islander like us (who is also from South Africa) and another couple friend of theirs from South Africa.
We had lunch at Cypriot time, which was about 2:30 pm. Piano Man and Linus already had lunch before we left, so it was a time for the kids to hang out and play.
I learned a lot about South Africa culture and safety. South Africans are much quieter in nature. They shared how it took some getting used to all the “yelling” from the Cypriots during their normal, everyday conversations. (I must agree that Cypriots are very vocal and passionate people when they speak to one another.)
Our new friend, who had just arrived 6 days ago, mentioned that he was “skyping” with his wife when a strange man ran through the front door of their house. It turned out that the man was stabbed in the side with a screwdriver while two others were trying to hijack his car. The bleeding man ran into the first house for safety, which could have been bad if the family was not so nice.
They all shared stories of how robbers purposely try to wait for the homeowners to be home during a robbery. That way the robbers can get access to combinations in the safe, hold a knife to you and get to the jewelry much quicker. There have been times when the parents would wake up and the robbers would hold the child with a knife close to his/her throat as ransom.
One couple even shared their desire to seek citizenship in Cyprus. To them, they are ready to denounce their South African citizenship in search of better opportunities and freedoms in the European Union. Apparently, without a European passport, they have to request for a visa to every single European country they want to visit. With a Cypriot passport, which is not easy to come by for outsiders, it gives them an opportunity that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise.
People say, “Cyprus is such a safe place to live.” People forget to lock the doors to their cars and houses. I have even seen a few people leave their car door wide open with the engine running, so they can go and pick up an item at a store, on the side of a street. That never happens in South Africa, they say. I don’t even think that would happen in a major city in the U.S.
We shared different ways to say the same thing. For example, they taught us: “hoover up” means to vacuum and “robots” are called traffic lights. We are so fortunate to meet such wonderful people, who have shared some amazing life stories with us.