Touristas and Baristas

August 29th, 2017

There is a helpful website for tourists about the nature of crimes perpetrated against travellers, sponsored by the University of Albany. The conclusions were drawn by a 2017 conference obviously thrown together in an effort to keep the job-rich tourist industry thriving, rather than merely surviving. Global unrest has many persons taking ‘stay-cations’ where the plan is to remain within a day’s travel from home. The expenses involved in extended travel might just as well be avoided should you happen to live in a stimulating region of your country.

The website was obviously created by officials anxious to keep down crime and see that travellers are assisted in pressing charges against perpetrators. Most visitors have to return to work and can’t handle the expenses of a return trip to appear in court. Florida developed a program that funds return trips for that purpose while another travel mecca has arranged for video-teleconferencing to be done in lieu of a personal appearance before a judge.

Crime statistics may be used by travellers to select desirable destinations. However, what happens when a location only sounds ‘idyllic’ to visit? Perhaps the crime statistics are low because reports aren’t being made. This form of censorship is a second victimization of the tourist involved in a crime and misrepresents the resort area. Most people take extra precautions to visit a place with a recognized level of crime (think San Francisco and Chicago), knowing that local law enforcement is on the job. New York’s finest is quite responsive to local problems.

Cyprus, not so much.

This is your Alan King-type traveler, (see his books about what may befall a tourist), who has previously reported on some fairly strange happenings in my journeys. As a renter, costs of fuel and other utilities makes following the sun desirable in winter months. Therefore, I find myself in places like Cyprus when spring has not yet sprung in my regular haunts. Unfortunately, I found myself in the unenviable situation of being a crime victim without police assistance and took the simple, if not easy, way out. I did nothing, an action that cost around $500 and a bit of my self-respect. The money is a significant amount on a fixed income. While I can’t replace my broken Apple mini-tablet, I can restore my sense of justice with a few key strokes of this new Lenovo lap-top.

Let’s take this step by weird step.

(1) I hate to shop. I mean I really hate to drag myself from store to store because it means there’s something I need that’s not to be found on my shelves. My income require bargain hunting, meaning more shops have to be visited. Last May, I was in Cyprus for the pleasant climate, great beaches and low-cost hotel rooms. At some point, a shopping excursion was needed and I took a bus into down-town Lanarca.

(2) The town is old and the sidewalks have high, old-fashioned curbs. While approaching a crosswalk, another woman took that opportunity to spray herself with a perfume atomizer. Medically savvy persons classify those as atomic bombs to be dropped upon persons with asthma and I promptly started coughing as droplets blew my way in the spring breeze. My foot slipped and I fell into the road, my ribs taking a nasty hit. Winded, I lay there with my purse and shopping bag right underneath my body.

(3) A large, black Ford SUV rounded the curb at rather distressing speed. My reflexes kicked in and I rolled out of the way, narrowly avoiding being hit. The car rolled over my belongings and stopped just ahead of the flattened remnants of my electronics, with the car’s wheels coming to a stop in front of a barrier-gate to a parking lot. I grabbed my bruised ribs and finished clearing my lungs from their trip to ecstasy.

(4) The rear lights of the car suddenly shone brightly and ‘Christine’ began backing up. In my direction. My screams for the police were likely heard in the Turkish section of the island although no-one showed up with a hookah and Fez to rescue this traveller. My screams did bring the car to a stop and a youthful male head with dark hair and a moustache appeared out the window. “I didn’t see you!”, it cried. I truly hoped he hadn’t. The experience was too reminiscent of the spate of car-rammings going on world-wide and I preferred to avoid that in this spring paradise. I rolled back to my belongings and mentally prepared a funeral for the Apple mini-pad. My cans of salmon looked like they’d stock easily in a cabinet now that they were square. What would the new shape mean for vacuum packaging, anyway? Gathering my wits, the next sentence out of my mouth was a bit more appropriate to the situation. “Call a cop, please!” I’d only been there two days and hadn’t yet gotten a local SIM card for my unlocked phone. Dented, but not daunted, a small cell-phone was still useable but SIM-less at the moment.

(5) The driver got out of the car and looked down. A long way down. ‘Get up and we’ll go to the police. I’ll take you.’ My reply was simple. “I’m not getting into a car with you. Phone somebody to come here and take a report.” I used the phone to take photos of the car, license plate and driver for the record. The driver was evidently not happy with my reply and actions because he got back into his car and left the scene of the accident. Still dazed, I’m not sure I actually saw a flip of his finger but may have been mistaken. Nonetheless, he was gone as he raised the gate to the lot and moving forward.

(6) I slowly got to my feet, hurting significantly. My budget for the week was also gone now with the damaged supermarket goods. Not having a phone or funds for a taxi-cab, I grabbed a local bus to the airport where I knew there was a police station open all day, every day. There, I approached the office where a sole officer sat next to a facsimilie machine and showed him my battered tablet. After explaining the events, the officer began to talk about the necessity for a visit to the traffic department downtown. My ribs hurting and my purse empty, I asked whether the report forms might be faxed. “No, you have to go to the office and… .” He droned on, listing a few required actions that I was equally unable to perform so I raised my voice to be heard over his in order to explain that no other actions were possible. He interpreted that as hostile, despite my explaining I had a disability and was unable to manage the tasks mentioned. “How dare you raise your voice to an officer of the law!”, he shouted. He rose, looming over my five-foot frame and continued to berate my temerity. I answered in the only manner remaining on the ‘safe’ menus of replies. “Then you won’t hear my voice again.” That set off a flurry of questions to which I merely nodded or shook my head. His rage mounting, I packed my bags and waited by the door for dismissal.

(7) Returning to the airport floor, I bought a ticket out of Cyprus good for the next day. There is no point to remaining in a place alone when you have no recourse to legal means of redress. The mini-pad was heavily cracked with shards of glass sticking inside the workings but it powered up enough for my downloading of the photos taken of the perpetrator. I looked up the email addresses of three places and began writing the day’s events to the traffic police station downtown and the United States Embassy in Nicosia. Resting in the airport lounge, I was well enough the next day to implement my travel plans.

(8) Two days later, I replaced the tablet with a low-cost Lenovo lap-top. I still can’t get apps in there to contact my bank and other important places but at least I’m able to email and read the news. The U.S. Embassy had contacted traffic and those police officers dragged the perpetrator in for questioning, but took no action because I wasn’t there to prosecute. That meant no accident report with payment forthcoming for damages from the driver’s insurance. That also means one less report of a crime happening, to the detriment of Greek Cyprus which is soon to join the EU.

I hope this has been of help to readers on two levels. First, to raise awareness that ‘crime’ reporting starts with victims or the statistics will be entirely skewed. Next, to encourage the degree of self-governance required to maintain an area’s relationship with the law. Ancient Rome destroyed Israel’s center of justice, the second Temple and then renamed the nation ‘Palestine’ so that the name and ways of Israel would disappear from memory forever. When we fail to pursue justice, we treat the United States as if it were merely a renamed land mass called ‘America’. In a prior blog note about terrorism at Gatwick airport, I felt as though England had been renamed the ‘UK’ when my report was dismissed – though with thanks, rather than recriminations.

Has your nation been renamed lately?

Categories: commentary, Life Observations, Litigation

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