Thursday, April 2, 2009
Cyrprus, "the Greek side"
After the conference, Stacy and I flew straight to Cyprus for our Spring Break, meeting her partner, Liam, and son, Gabe, at the Ankara airport on the way there.
Since the Turks invaded Cyprus in 1974 and "re"-claimed the northern half of the island as their territory, it is kind of tricky to enter the Greek/EU side. We flew into the airport in the Northern Turkish Republic of Cyprus, took a taxi to the UN-occupied "Green Zone," walked with our luggage across the Green Zone getting checked/searched by Turkish Border Control on one side and Greek Border Control on the other, then met our rental car representative, and drove 2-1/2 hours to a town on the south coast of the island called Paphos.
On the Greek side of the Green Zone, there were several propaganda posters showing numbers and faces of "innocent" Greek women and children who were killed when Turkey "invaded" the island in 1974. Funny, because pictures of "innocent Turkish women and children killed by the Greeks" during The War of Independence were used in the Anit Kabir Museum where Ataturk is buried in Ankara. An effective propaganda technique?? On the Turkish side of the Zone, there is a giant poster that reads,"The Turkish Northern Republic of Turkey FOREVER." This is a picture of the Green Zone. Pretty simple and unimpressive. Not at all what I expected.
It felt a bit tense walking through the Green Zone, but then the Greeks we met in Southern Cyprus also became quite tense when we said we were teachers from Ankara. "Why would you want to teach/live there?"
We rented a villa recommended to us by a colleague who went there with his family during our December break. The villa was functional to nice. There was a heated pool, and several patios and patio chair options to enjoy the sunshine. Unfortunately, it rained for the first few days we were there and remained relatively chilly the rest of the time. So we resorted to lighting fires in the evening, cooking warm meals, and cozying up under wool blankets watching movies on cable. To be honest, I was fine with the weather. I needed the R & R; I felt so exhausted from work and then the whirlwind conference, that it was so nice to have nothing expected of me for a few days.
Of course, we still did and saw a lot. We checked out a winery, and visited the Baths of Aphrodite, the supposed pool where she and Adonis fell in love under the shade of a fig tree. The water is supposed to make you fertile and look 5 years younger. I didn't touch it. I teach 12th graders; I don't want to look any younger.
We also went out to eat at some "ethnic" restaurants. There is very little variety in food in Turkey, so we didn't go out for Cyprian food which is very similar to Turkish. Instead, Japanese, Chinese, etc...
We visited this Byzantine Church by the sea. It was nice to see churches again on this trip and in Bucharest. It had been awhile.
We each got massages, shopped in Paphos, and took a nature walk. The following sign was posted in the area right outside the Baths of Aphrodite, in an area marked, "Nature Walks." Can you imagine seeing this sign posted in a National Park in the U.S.?? You'd think it might be a good idea to find all those explosive devices and get rid of them BEFORE opening a nature reserve.
Luckily, no one lost a foot, and it was a beautiful walk. I love Mediterranean plants. Like a dork, I made Stacy, Liam, and Gabe play "Each One Teach One," and outdoor ed game.
And of course, we visited the sea a couple times. Gabe was so much fun to travel with; to see the world through the excitement of an 8-year-old was inspiring.
These are some sea caves we checked out.
Even though I didn't get to swim, it was still wonderful to sit and take it in. I do wish I lived by the sea sometimes.
Despite the chilliness, Gabe really really really wanted to "get wet" in the ocean. He is also obsessed with Avatar, and though I have not seen the anime films, I understand the characters are able to bend water with their special powers. So here is Gabe's attempt at bending water in the Mediterranean Ocean in March, which to me just looks like a hilarious interpretive dance.
The island is fastly developing. Everywhere you look, you see villas and hotels, all very similar looking. One day when the gang went to a bird park, I rented a bike and rode around some backroads, and everywhere I went there was construction.
I believe the Brits that are settling on the island have outnumbered the Cyprians at this point. And I don't know if it was the time of year, but most people we saw were white and over 65.
On my bikeride, I rode around a lot of banana plantations:
And here's my last time spent with the sea:
That's Spring Break 2009, Folks!