Cable cars to St Hilarion Castle – my old joke. Stop it.

By Bertil Wedin………

The idea of a cable car connection between Kyrenia and St Hilarion was mentioned 30 years ago, but it was done so jokingly as the most vulgar development I could imagine.

Since 1985 I have lived in a widely unrecognised country with the awkwardly long name Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is often shortened to TRNC, or North or Northern Cyprus.

When I had moved here with my family from England more than 31 years ago, a retired British diplomat approached me at a party and said that he had heard that I was a journalist. He added: “Please do not write anything nice about this country. We do not want a lot of people to know that this is the last paradise on earth.”

Northern Cyprus was beautiful, decent and pleasant. It was wonderfully eccentric and very different from the increasingly regulated and troubled world of recognised countries.

In the troubled world, any country could be recognised if it were troubled enough. Happy kingdoms and duchies were tolerated only if they were fictional, like Peter Sellers’ Grand Fenwick, or if they kept a very low profile, like the Principality of Liechtenstein. In fact, soon after my meeting with the diplomat, I defied him by writing a booklet with the title North Cyprus – a Liechtenstein in the eastern Mediterranean. Soon I launched a radio programme on which I referred to the TRNC as “the last paradise on earth”.

At that time, a thinking Yorkshireman, Allan Cavinder, who was running a pub in central Kyrenia on the northern coast of the TRNC, suggested to his customers and to my listeners that the paradise in which we were privileged to live, might not last forever. The ugliness of the modern world would probably sneak in little by little. He raised the question to expatriates: “If that happened, at what point would you decide to leave the TRNC?”

Many people replied simply that they would never leave the TRNC. Others said that they would leave if and when “they introduce” credit cards, speed limits, or the compulsory use of seat belts in motorcars, or when “men with tattoos and earrings were allowed to live here”, or “if they allow high-rise buildings in Kyrenia”.

When it was my turn to reply, I decided to joke by referring to the most vulgar development I could imagine. “I shall leave”, I said, “when there are cable cars between Kyrenia and St Hilarion combined with a giant Mickey Mouse waving from the top of the crusader castle.”

The fact that such cable cars are now being seriously discussed (though not necessarily combined with a Mickey Mouse) shows how times have changed. What was considered mad thirty years ago is now seen as possible.

Since 1985, the TRNC has taken many steps away from the paradise it was, in the direction of unpleasant modernity. Skyscrapers have destroyed the beauty of Kyrenia. Many charming old shops have gone so that most people will have to serve themselves in giant supermarkets in which they cannot escape loud and devilish music. Hotels that look like authoritarian state buildings from Orwell’s 1984 horror story keep thousands of people in their neighbourhoods tortured in their homes through the nights with greatly disturbing cacophony.

The invasion of modernity brings a slum culture that promotes vulgarity and makes it difficult for decent people to be free and undisturbed enough to listen to their own music and enjoy good conversation.

The proposed cable car connections would make the majestically beautiful Kyrenia mountain range appear as a symbol of vulgar taste.

The project, if it won approval, would also destroy a great deal of nature and wildlife. We should remember that it is the nature that makes the country beautiful, healthy and attractive, not the modern buildings and other constructions. Every time trees are felled to give way for “development” the land loses beauty and health, and the birds and other wild animals get less living space.

Have in mind also the people who would have to live under the steel wires, being looked at from above and disturbed by the ones who travel in the cable cars. Such intrusion of privacy would be unbearable.

Furthermore consider that this is a country in which lifts seldom work and where power cuts are frequent. It would be foolish to exclude the possibility of having cable car passengers stuck for long periods in the boxes high above the ground.

Moreover, do not forget the enormously strong winds we often have along the northern slope of the Kyrenia mountain range. Even the Swiss, with their long experience of mountainous cable cars, have not always been able to prevent the wires from being tangled.

St Hilarion Castle and the mountain range on which it was built long ago with miraculous skill are wonderful to visit. I have driven there hundreds of times and once I walked and climbed there. Every time, I enjoyed the beauty of that area so much that I shouted with delight.

The car journey from central Kyrenia to St Hilarion takes only 15-20 minutes. It gives you great pleasure and provides unbelievably beautiful views.There is absolutely no need for a cable car service. When the idea was first mentioned, it was only a joke. Leave it like that.

For God’s sake, please no cable cars!


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