Friday, 29 April 2016 14:33

When a rule stays a rule…

No individual bottles for thirsty tourists? No individual bottles for thirsty tourists?

Lately I’ve had tourists on my mind. Probably because I’ve been seeing them on my early morning bike rides. They are already out, exploring, sporting their full summer outfits, including sandals and sunhats, while I’m on a bike still in a sweater. And I love it! I love the idea of living on an island that people visit in spring because it feels like summer to them.

I also love how they don’t mind standing out in a crowd – which is what a group of them recently did so expertly at one of Limassol’s big supermarkets. And the scene they got to be part of there was so absurd — so surreal — I felt like I’d just watched some slapstick comedy.

The store was busy, with several full shopping carts at each check-out. I had gotten my few standard items and was once again thinking that the day they open an express check out I’ll be seen falling on my knees kissing the floor.
Further up in my queue was a group of tourists – recognisable by the above-described outfits and the relaxed and cheerful holiday mood they were exuding. Another dead giveaway was their shopping cart: some had gotten packs of biscuits, but most were just holding one small bottle of water.

They patiently awaited their turn and when it came, the lady at the checkout poured a long Greek explanation over them which they received with puzzled looks on their faces.

She was explaining that small bottles can only be purchased in a six-pack, to which they obviously replied that they don’t speak Greek. Then they watched in disbelief as their little water bottles disappeared under her counter. “Sorry,” is the only English word they got to hear.

Their reaction was one that I personally also often choose when I realise that any reaction would be a lost battle – they just smiled and thanked her, and nodded “Really, thank you!”

I could not help but intervene. “Can you not type in the code for a pack of water bottles whilst they go get it? They’ve been standing in line for so long,” I asked.

I was ignored, but when my turn came, she told me that this is a new rule and only big bottles can be bought separately. I told her that frankly, I personally did not care as I had my own water bottle in my backpack but that she should care though, because she had just become a ridiculous holiday memory for an entire group of tourists…

True, it’s a minor incident, but it’s also one that for the sake of helpfulness could have easily been avoided, tourist or not, language barrier or not.

The Cyprus tourism portal promises ‘an island full of wonderful experiences just waiting to be enjoyed’. Each of us may, intentionally or not, become a small part of one of these experiences – after all the much-vaunted growing influx of tourists will benefit everyone.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of April 15, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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