Michael Totten

Internet Hell

Call me crazy, but I figured that going from the Middle East to a European Union country would improve my Internet situation. It didn’t. Cyprus is Internet hell. Internet access here consists, for the most part, of coin-operated terminals that cost twenty dollars an hour. These things aren’t even real computers. They look like video poker machines from a distance. Lebanon is a high-tech Japan by comparison. At least Beirut has wi-fi, even if it isn’t great. Portland, Oregon, seems like the 23rd Century from where I’m sitting right now.
I have some photos of the Atilla Line (the line of partition created by the Turkish military in 1974). I also have photos of a modern Greek urban ghost town south of Famagusta on the Turkish side. There are medium-height buildings that form a skyline on the coast, houses, stores, business districts, etc. – all of them sealed off with barbed wire and left uninhabited for the past 31 years. Almost all the windows have been blown out in the meantime, and some buildings are collapsing on unmaintained foundations. It is stranger by far than any of Beirut’s physical “casualties” of war.
Taking photos is forbidden, but I took some anyway. I accidentally took a picture just as a Turkish military patrol rounded a corner. The soldiers saw me and got out of the jeep, looking in my direction as they did so. I hightailed it away from the forbidden zone as fast as I could without running. They did not come after me, so I still have the pictures.
I would like to post those photos right now. But that isn’t possible. Like I said, Cyprus is Internet hell.
Soon I will post something real, something other than a complaint, probably Wednesday when I have at least half-assed access to technology when I return to Beirut.