For my first today, I’m contemplating what it would be like to return to a place from my childhood. I spoke with my older brother today as he was preparing to board a plane with his wife to head to the island of Cyprus to live for a while.
Cyprus is a jewel of an island located at the east end of the Mediterranean, close to Turkey, Syria and Israel. I spent 6 years there, with the first 3 starting when I was 2 and the next 3 when I was 9. I don’t remember much about the first trip albeit I was assured I had a very good time. The second tour I do remember more off and have a lot of wonderful memories. You can pretty much get across the island by car in a day and there is so much history there and places to see.
The island has an ancient history and you can still find Roman and Greek coins and artifacts to this day. The central mountain – Troodos – is also known as Olympus. The home of the Gods. Every weekend we would make a trip somewhere. I have seen castles built by Richard the Lionheart. Open graves with skeletons of a man and a horse, side by side. Castles built so high up a mountain, you look DOWN on eagles gliding as you ascend. And there is so much beautiful coastline and beaches. We would often just pull off the highway and stop at a restaurant right on the water. The pelicans were pacing the dock waiting for the fishermen to return. And, getting close to our table as our food was served. My favorite was the fish mezze – a multi course fish and seafood meal with copious amounts of salad, pita bread, yogurt and wine. (the latter I didn’t partake of at the time).
Camping was a favorite pastime and we would often head off to some beach campground with other families and spend the weekend in pure heaven. During school holidays, we lived at the beach. Fishing, canoeing and generally just enjoying each precious moment. I learned the habit of shaking my shoes before putting them on, as scorpions and other nasties, loved to nest in them overnight.
For the bulk of the second tour, we were on the Royal Air Force base of Akrotiri. Obviously placed there for strategic reasons. (A very short flight from the then Soviet Union).
I am so blessed to have parents who loved to spend time with us and to get out and explore what an area had to offer. We often got off the beaten track and went through the small villages, meeting the real people of the area.
We were there in 1974 when there was a brief war between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. There was no impact or danger to us as they both knew their conflict would end a lot faster if they engaged the British. It ended with a once-unified island being separated, which makes me sad to think about.
To this day, my dad and brothers still cook kebabs the way we did back there. Love those family traditions. I must admit, I am a bit of a grill-meister myself.
Talking with my brother today, brought back all these memories. He is returning there tomorrow. I intend to return not too long after that. It will be interesting to return as an adult and revisit some the places I enjoyed as a child. In a way, it will be a first.