Although I intended to tell you the story of my journey in chronological order, my walk in Larnaca, Cyprus this morning convinced me to begin my story here. Maybe by tomorrow I’ll write about New Orleans, the first stop on the tour.
Cyprus is a small island, only 150 miles long and about 60 miles from top to bottom. That small space has been divided into two countries since a civil war and a Turkish invasion in 1974. The “green line” monitored closely by the United Nations divides the island horizontally. The lower half is mostly occupied by Greek-speaking Christians; the upper half by Turkish-speaking Muslims. The capital city, Nicosia, is divided. To enter northern Nicosia from the south it’s necessary to pass through two checkpoints, show a passport and proof of anti-Covid vaccination. It’s literally walking from one country into another one.
Larnaca is located on a huge bay on the southern shore of the island. The street behind the mile long beach is called (in Greek) “little palm tree street.” As one book says, the palms were very small when planted in the 1920s; today they are quite tall. I’ll devote another blog post to telling you about the beach area. For today I just want to set the scene of my two and a half months in Larnaca.
My AirBnB apartment is about three short blocks from the beach. It’s located just one building off Ermou street, the principal street in this section of the city. The best restaurants and most upscale shops in Larnaca are on Ermou Street. I really like my one-bedroom apartment. It’s in a 4-story building owned by a family. Theodora, the owners’ daughter, manages it now and does a fine job. She has been very helpful to me, giving me information and, on two occasions, driving me to the Lidl store a couple of miles away. Buying groceries was my primary challenge in the first month I was here. Now, in the second month, I’ve discovered two small shops selling groceries that I walk to carrying my orange English supermarket bag.
The Cypriot people are friendly. Because in the first 60 years of the 20th century this island was controlled by Great Britain, people study English throughout their school years. Almost everyone can understand me and converse with me in English. Most of the people in Larnaca are Greek but there are also many recent immigrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East. There are also numerous women from Asia who are brought here to serve as maids to the upper class. (Recently I read an excellent novel about the Asian women in Cyprus. It’s entitled Songbirds: a novel and was written by Christy Lefteri, a native Cypriot.)
I have much more to tell you about this city and the island of Cyprus. This and a few photos is just the beginning. My winter here has been warm and sunny – mostly – and I’ve been very happy here.