I visited Cyprus today. Again.
I’ve been to Cyprus three times now, but only once intentionally. You see, Israel’s effectively an island. To the North, South and East we are ringed by frenemies or outright enemies; to the West is sea. Which means that should things go awry in all things aviation, Cyprus – that other ex-British colony with its own occupation problem – is the closest thing to a calm port in a storm.
And what a storm this one is. The Ayalon, that sad sun-scorched dry stream bed is now a river that has burst its banks, swallowing not on the highway that shares its name (the main artery connecting Tel-Aviv to the rest of the country and itself), but also the railway that runs by its side.
Waze, the usually-fantastic, Tel-Aviv created, crowd-sourced free navigation app that Apple is so eager to buy, crashed under the weight of the chaos and sent tens of thousands of cars into a gridlock it covered its eyes and convinced itself didn’t exist. If you know any Israelis, check out their Facebook rants right about now.
The whole country is sodden, damp and saturated, and and all the while, we were circling overhead, oblivious to it all. Until we tried to land.
Once the plane came in, then powered out just inches from the runway. Second time we didn’t even get that close, dropping in low over the sea and scraping the tall buildings on the coast before a lightning strike took out the airport’s communications. That’s how we ended up in Cyprus, 45 minutes away and all alone in the Med. The sky was clear and the sun warmed our face through the open door as we sat like a potato on the runway.
But really, it wasn’t that bad. Not compared to what we’ve been through before. Two years ago during another storm, our plane was batted around so much in the wind on approach that all the sick-bags on-board were filled and then overflowed. When the pilot finally gave up and we landed in Cyprus, the cabin attendant pressed his head into hands and began to cry, confiding that in all his years he’d never been so scared. Then we took off an headed back. Only to be struck by lightning. Twice.
With that drama came consolations, though. Our experience was so bad that we made it onto the news, and Wife and I drank for free that night in the city’s hospitable bars. That was before Baby, so we still drank and did fun stuff other than changing soiled diapers.
That won’t happen this time, but at least the view of the raging sea’s pretty, and there’s some comfort in knowing that this whole region is being scolded by mother nature. Even Arabs and Israelis can occasionally get over themselves it seems.