[ilds] Still smiling on Aphrodite's island

Michael Haag michaelhaag at btinternet.com
Mon Jul 2 14:05:57 PDT 2007

the word is ... bush

On Monday, July 2, 2007, at 09:52  pm, Marc Piel wrote:

> 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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