[ilds] Still smiling on Aphrodite's island

Marc Piel marcpiel at interdesign.fr
Mon Jul 2 13:52:04 PDT 2007


Charles,
  from the info I have Cyprus is today invaded, 
after the British, by nouveau riche russian 
tycoons.... you can image the living climate and 
the race for.... I cant find the word.
Marc

slighcl wrote:

> Did our listserv's recent invocation of Bitter Lemons and Othello call 
> forth this article on Cyprus? 
> 
> Here is to all things "austere and merciless."  CLS
> 
> ***
> 
> Still smiling on Aphrodite's island
> http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/main.jhtml?xml=/travel/2007/07/02/etcyprus102.xml#3
> Last Updated: 12:01am BST 02/07/2007
> The world shunned Northern Cyprus, but its beauty endures, says Stephen 
> Cooper.
> 
> I arrive at "a Sea-port of Cyprus" as did Othello, in a cracking storm. 
> In Kyrenia, torrents cascade down the steps leading to the quayside, as 
> a fuller blast shakes the battlements of the massive fortress above the 
> harbour.
> 
> British influence still lingers in Turkish Northern Cyprus, but it is 
> fond tradition rather than the crass parody that blights the Costas. It 
> is found in driving on the left, in English signs on official buildings 
> (and "Car Boot Sale" placards), in the familiar cylindrical postboxes 
> (albeit in unfamiliar bright yellow, as pictured right), but never more 
> so on than in the weather on this particular day.
> advertisement
> 
> As stranded Cypriot fishermen look glumly out over thick coffee, it is 
> the British - expats and visitors alike - who delight in this return to 
> their traditional watery element. Wading through the gales in sensible 
> rain gear, they wear a look of satisfied resignation, almost gleeful 
> nostalgia for Bank Holidays immemorial. The locals don't really mind. 
> They know the sun will return - and soon - for an average 300 days each 
> year.
> 
> Richard the Lionheart started the trend for British visits to Kyrenia 
> (known to locals as Girne) in 1191 by forcibly capturing the castle. 
> Today's visitors pay for their real estate instead. The balmy 
> temperatures and tasty prices bring them flocking, and the friendliness 
> of the locals keeps them content. Why crusade when you can happily co-exist?
> 
> Northern Cyprus is experiencing a boom. Unfinished buildings gaze 
> longingly at their artist's impressions, aspiring to the glossy finish 
> of the sales hoardings. While some may be due to overextended 
> developers, others are romantic homage to a local custom whereby parents 
> build a home for their son over a period of several years before his 
> marriage. The bride's folks get to furnish it. With new houses come the 
> creature comforts: a new championship golf course of lush green among 
> the olive and carob trees, and luxurious hotels, such as the central 
> Colony with its casino and limousines.
> 
> There are so many places to eat that a chunky restaurant guide has been 
> published. As villas replace olive groves, Cyprus is well aware that its 
> charm can be spoilt and has new building controls in place.
> 
> But until the politicians act, nothing can be done about the sad waste 
> of a city like Famagusta. From the Palm Beach hotel terrace stretches a 
> crescent bay of hotels, every one empty since the 1970s and partition. 
> Farthest away is the St George's. At a distance (and that's the only way 
> you can see it) it resembles its namesake in that other torn city facing 
> it across the eastern editerranean, Beirut. The island's most renowned 
> hotel, the Ledra Palace in Nicosia, now houses UN peacekeepers in the 
> Green Line buffer zone.
> 
> Whatever the politicians do (or don't), the people know they are on to a 
> good thing on this beautiful island of Aphrodite, and just get on with 
> it. Lawrence Durrell in Bitter Lemons describes the shady "Tree of 
> Idleness" beloved of the languid locals. Outside the spectacular Gothic 
> Bellapais Abbey, competing restaurants fervently but amiably claim the 
> tree as theirs. Centuries of mingling at this Mediterranean crossroads 
> have produced numerous cultural collisions.
> 
> French cathedrals carry slender minarets and make modern-day mosques. 
> There are Verigo grapes, named by a Turkish child who misheard British 
> troops pronounce them "very good". And at remote Kantara, beneath a 
> Venetian fortress clinging to limestone crags, Halil welcomes you warmly 
> to lunch in his pine-shaded restaurant with an East End "Awright?". In 
> Nicosia, the colonnaded courtyard of Büyük Han, a caravanserai for 
> Anatolian merchants turned poorhouse, is once again a craft centre with 
> café. The lemonade is home-made and pastry is freshly rolled on marble 
> to make hellim böreg\u02C7i, wafer-thin toasted cheese parcels.
> 
> Details captivate: the "eyes" to ward off evil emblazoned above doors 
> (as pictured above right), on babies' shawls, or on the lavender bags on 
> hotel pillows; the Lefkara lace patterns designed by da Vinci (who also 
> beefed up the fortifications during his 1481 visit); the three 
> door-knockers in Ottoman Nicosia with different tones to announce men, 
> women and children; or the coded coffee signals of courting couples, 
> sweet for "hello", bitter for "goodbye".
> 
> Rich colour is everywhere. Midway between the cathedral mosque and 
> Othello's tower in Old Famagusta's golden-walled city is Petek 
> Pastanesi, an Aladdin's cave of pastries, sweets and cakes. There is 
> colour, too, in the ancient Roman mosaics of Salamis, whose ruins you 
> can still clamber over. It may not be archaeological best practice, but 
> there is the real thrill of touching the past that is lost at red-roped 
> museums like Pompeii. Tantalisingly, the political climate keeps a vast 
> area still unexcavated and even more lies under the waves of Gazimagusa Bay.
> 
> Roads vary, but all are passable, though the Karpas Peninsula merits an 
> off-roader to see the deserted beaches where turtles lay their eggs in 
> May, which hatch in July. The roads across the Green Line have also been 
> passable since 2003, so North increasingly meets South.
> 
> Back in Kyrenia harbour (pictured above left), the muezzin's call to 
> evening prayer floats over the White Pearl Hotel and the Hotel British. 
> On the quayside, wooden tables are matched by wooden working boats - no 
> surfeit of gin-palace fibreglass here - and at night there is symmetry 
> as people dine at café table and on deck. Swallows swoop as the dusk 
> settles and lanterns glimmer. Aphrodite would still, its troubles 
> notwithstanding, be pleased with her island.
> 
> -- 
> **********************
> Charles L. Sligh
> Department of English
> Wake Forest University
> slighcl at wfu.edu
> **********************
> 
> 
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