This morning around 8am I heard the most awful noise - loud car horns blaring, and traffic racing around not far away. Perhaps, I thought, someone had got married? Wedding parties often drive around hooting their horns, but I'd never heard a wedding that early in the morning.
An hour later I went out to the town to check the PO box and saw the source of the noise (which hadn't abated at all) - older teenagers driving around on motor-bikes, most of them with holes in the exhaust pipes, honking their horns as loudly as possible.
I'd quite forgotten about this tradition which marks the end of school - mostly, I think, students from Greek-speaking high schools. I'm not sure if the ones who are leaving school end the year before the rest of their schools or if they really have finished for the summer. I know at least one of the private schools is continuing for another couple of weeks, and the British Army Base school will continue right through until mid-July, like schools in the UK.
It wasn't pleasant in the town. There were teenagers everywhere, on and off motor-bikes, making as much noise as they could. Some were at least wearing helmets on the motorbikes, but most of them weren't. They wove in and out of the cars, wobbling to and fro, often with passengers seated behind the driver just holding on around his waist. It was mostly boys but I saw a few girls too, one of them in a bikini waving her tee-shirt like a flag. Quite shocking for Cyprus in the town, although as it's only 100m from the seafront I suppose it's no big deal.
At one point I was almost deafened by a horrendous noise from an exhaust within a few centimetres of where I was walking, coupled with the loudest horn I had heard. The students (or former students, I should perhaps say!) who were on that bike probably wouldn't have been able to hear for the rest of the day.
In one of the shops I went in, a helpful lady with only a little English told me, 'The school has finished. The children are happy!'
I thought it was a bit sad that they feel such a need to celebrate, as if they're getting out of prison. But perhaps it feels like that to them. When I left school (in the UK) I was terribly sad about it. What's more, the boys here - who were the noisiest - all have to go into compulsory army service within the next few weeks, so they've only exchannged one form of control for another.