Limassol, Cyprus, 2023.
When we arrived in Limassol, we booked a cab via BOLT, a ride-hailing app, to our hotel. When the cab arrived, the driver wasn’t very friendly at all. He didn’t assist us with our luggage. He told us to wear a mask before getting in. We’re always ready with masks so no problem. But he himself didn’t wear a mask. So apparently the mask policy only applied to us.
When we arrived at the hotel, as we were paying cash, it was obvious he was disgusted. He didn’t hand us the change properly. He hastily dropped — tossed — the money to Vins’s hand. It even fell on the seat because Vins was caught off-guard.
It put a bit of a damper on our first day but not for long. It turned out, Cyprus has a huge Filipino community, and we met some of them at a Pinoy turo-turo-style restaurant nearby, owned by Ate Aida from Nueva Ecija.
Ate April, a Roxas-native who has been living here for 17 years, assured us that while problems like this do exist, locals are generally friendly. The driver was just one of the few exceptions. After a plateful of pansit and dinuguan, we were ready for Aphrodite’s birthplace.
A few days later, when it was time to leave Cyprus, we booked another ride to the airport bus station. To our surprise, what showed up was a limousine, driven by a 50-something-year-old local named George. (He’s the guy in the picture.) He was so excited to see us because he said he had lots of Pinoy friends and he often watched Pinoy TV shows. He was also very apologetic because it was only his second day using the app, and he was still trying to get used to it. We were his 9th passenger ever, he said.
Throughout the journey, he was very curious about the Philippines. He said he was born and raised in Cyprus and had never left the island.
At one point, we hit a red light and a luxury car stopped beside us. The driver, obviously well-off, rolled down his window and had a lovely little chat with George and us, inserting a few jokes here and there. When red turned to green, he wished us luck on our travels and drove off.
George shared that the guy in the other car was, in his words, “very nice because he’s very rich but very, very humble.”
When we reached the bus station, we asked George for a selfie and shook hands before saying goodbye.
As we were taking this pic, I remembered what the luxury car guy told us earlier. “You’re very lucky,” he said. “You got the best driver in Cyprus.”
And it really felt like we did.