Return to Cyprus- Part I

A few months ago my father shared that he was coming to Cyprus for 2 weeks to visit with my elder brother and his wife. I checked in if they were cool with an extra participant and booked my ticket for October 16.

Cyprus has a special place in my heart. Dad was stationed there twice- in 1963 and 1971. I don’t remember much about the first tour.

My brother had made a couple more visits to the island and had given me some updates on what had changed.

I’ve long wanted to return and my opportunity was presented to me.

I do commence preparations ahead of time albeit don’t formally pack until the day before. As I love traveling light, I once again packed just a carry on bag.

Normally, I drive to and from the airport, leaving my car in Long-term parking. As I have a lengthy flight home and arrive a little late, I opted for alternate transportation.

I have never done an Uber so was Keen for that experience too.

Final preparations completed, Uber on way- I was ready for the adventure to begin.

10pm on Monday seems like perfect time to fly from Newark. No traffic getting there, no lines at airline counter, TSA check or security screening. I was literally through in minutes.

Then it was time to wait for boarding. I don’t like to sit before a long flight and strolled around the gate area until time to join the boarding line.

Thiywas my first time flying Emirates and I was totally impressed. The aircraft was clean and comfortable. The cabin crew were wonderful. Two inflight meals were served- with plenty of coffee.

The entertainment system offered a huge array of movies, music and programs. I started watching Wonder Woman then slept for a bit. I then chose something I haven’t seen before. The Mummy with Tom Cruise. I love the movies with Brendan Fraser and was Keen to see how the remake compared. It didn’t. Effects were phenomenal albeit the rest of it was a let down. Guardians of the Galaxy II saved the day.

I had my usual aisle seat and, as the other seats were empty, slid over to the window seat to take in the Greek coast as we descended into Athens.

I was surprised how small Athens airport was. It was a quick stroll to the area for the next flight and a slice of Greek pizza and a cappuccino kept me company.

The gate area proceeded to fill up and we had a full flight to Larnaca.

I was in row 10 and was off the plane quickly. I rapidly made my way to passport control and customs and was through in minutes. (Unlike arriving at Gatwick or JFK). I stepped through the door and spotted my brother straight away. They had literally just parked and were amazed at how quick I got through.

Shortly after we were in the van, heading for their locale. We were chatting constantly as we drove, with Al and Di letting me know what had changed.

A stop at the local bakery/deli/coffee shop was in order for a late night snack. I opted for the souvlaki and chips which we took back to the house and enjoyed by the pool.

After we ate, it was time to pass out and catch up on sleep.

I awoke bright and early Wednesday morning and had a quick breakfast with Al and Di before they left for work. I went up to the rooftop area for my mantra and meditation, and to watch the sunrise over the Mediterranean.

I had a few hours to kill before we head for the dive site so a walk about felt in order. It was heavenly stepping out into the morning sun.

My primary destination was the bakery where a cappuccino and local pastry were procured. It was so blissful sitting in the sun, savoring the treats and watching a new world go by.

I had a bit of a cough and set out to find a pharmacy and pick up some decongestant. Didn’t want anything to impede my dive.

The pharmacist didn’t speak English and they didn’t have brands like Robitussin. So I was gesturing to convey cough and chest & head congestion. Was so grateful I wasn’t needing to buy condoms.

I procured a bronchial syrup and began a leisurely stroll back to the house. I sat out by the pool for a while until Di showed up to take me to the dive center and get me oriented. My concerns about clearing my ears were mitigated and the excitement building.

Al showed up and we piled into his van to head for the dive site at Green Bay.

The dive masters showed up and, as they observed the rough water at the entry point, opted to abort the dive until Friday.

So, we jumped back into the van and headed for the beach near Dad and Hazels hotel, where we camped out at a favorite watering hole. It was wonderful seeing how liked Al and Di are. Everyone was warm and inviting. Dad and Hazel joined us for a beverage then departed for their dinner.

We changed clothes then walked 20 yards to their favorite restaurant: Yianna Marie. Another wonderful experience of meeting more great people and some amazing food.

Shortly after we returned home and settled in for a blissful nights sleep.

I arose early Thursday and joined the fam for coffee, breakfast and coffee. I was on my own today and the plan was to get the local bus and join Dad and Hazel on the beach.

My bag was ready for the sun and sand, including snorkel gear. Which I haven’t done for years either.

A short trek to the bus stop by the local hospital and then waiting for the 708. It’s not New York where there’s a bus every 30 minutes.

The bus ride was a pleasant experience and dropped me off 2 blocks from the hotel. Dad was waiting for me and invited me to join them for the breakfast buffet. It was definitely geared up for British and Russian holiday makers. I did partake in a few things I don’t normally eat as I was present to this experience.

The coffee cups were a bit on the small side and I felt like I was doing shots, rather than drinking coffee.

We sauntered out across the pool area then picked a spot on the beach to claim as ours. Al and Di would be joining later that afternoon.

Dad was keen to take me for a walk along the Boardwalk to Fig Tree Bay – one of the spots we camped at in the early 70s. It was wonderful strolling with my father, chatting and reminiscing, observing the diverse array of people enjoying the weather & beach.

We arrived at Fig Tree and I instantly recognized it. Except when we were there, it was open land with a dirt road a solitary shabby house. Now, it’s all built up, surrounded with hotels.

As I looked at the small island just off the beach, I remembered an incident I shared with my brother. We got ona paddle boat with a friend and set out to circle the island. As we rounded the west side, we got caught in a current and were sent straight out to sea. No matter how we paddled or turned, we couldn’t change direction. Finally, as we were about 400 yards offshore, we decided jump in the water and swim back. We started off, with my brother assisting our friend who was not a strong swimmer. Thankfully, someone was watching from shore and a boat came out to get us and the paddle boat. To this day, I’m not comfortable being on a paddle boat in open water.

We strolled back to Hazel and joined her on the beach chairs soaking up the sun.

The water was calling to me and it was time for some snorkeling. The temperature was perfect and it was so sublime swimming over the rocks looking at the variety of fish.

After an afternoon of enjoying the beach, Al and Di joined us for the prerequisite beverage and snack at the beach bar. We all then made our way back to the beach chairs and napped until the sun sank to kiss the sea.

Al, Di and I went for a stroll around town so I could hit a couple of gift shops. They have some rather interesting artifacts. We wound up at Costa Coffee which had one of the best Cappuccinos.

We were invited to partake in the dinner buffet at Dads hotel, which was the usual overload of breads, entrees, desserts one would expect.

I opted to start with a plate of salad so I wouldn’t go overboard on the other stuff. It was a wonderful meal with lots of laughter.

And then returning to the abode where we sat for a bit before retiring.

Friday morning, I overslept and missed Al and Di. I did my usual morning routine of coffee, yoga and meditation. Not quite my full practice albeit perfect for that now.

Plan was for me to get the bus again, join Dad and Hazel, then be at a certain location for Di and Al to pick me up on way to the dive site.

I enjoyed a breakfast and time out by the pool. Dad and Hazel wanted to go for a walk and wanted go by my pickup point.

It was a pleasant walk although hot. After a brief sojourn in the store , we set off in a different direction to complete a loop. Everyone was thirsty and peckish by this point, so we stopped at the first decent looking eating emporium we found.

After a snack and a couple of cups of coffee it was time for me to get back to the pickup point.

Within minutes, the van pulled in and we headed for Green Bay again for the dive.

We were first there. Al and Di commenced preparing their gear. They’re both certified so were going to do their own thing.

The dive master arrived with all our gear shortly followed by the other participants. A short briefing was held on safety protocols and to outline the dive plan. And then we suited up.

I had a shorty wetsuit, which covers the torso, upper arms and thighs.

The BCD vests had already been fitted with the air tanks and breathing regulators. We sat on the tailgate as we put them on and the dive team secured them. We picked up fins and masks then walked to the entrance of the bay and into the water.

First order of business is to dunk your head underwater. Then spit in the mask and rub it around, rinsing it before putting it on.

Regulator was in mouth and I bent forward to put my face in water to experience breathing through it.

Then, let all air out of vest and sink to bottom. Idea is to get you neutrally bouyant. I kept rolling to one side so weight had to be distributed to keep me level. Including dropping a weight down the front of my suit.

And then we were off. Starting out in shallow water it progressively dropped to about 4 meters. I equalized my ears a couple of times and all was well. We stopped at Fish Rock. One of the guys tapped it with a stone and we were instantly surrounded by thousands of small fish. I was handed some bread which the fish would eat from my hand.

Then it was time to go deeper. We were heading for 10 meters to an open area of seabed where there’s several statues to swim around. I went straight to the bottom and putting a little air in the vest compensated appropriately.

Then we get the signal to start heading back. We started a slow gentle ascent, allowing ears to do their thing. I was going up a bit too fast so my buddy kept bringing me down.

Then as I broke surface, my brother appeared next to me. And a high five was in order.

Check this off the bucket list.

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Ascent 303 – Rogue One

rogueone_onesheeta_1000_309ed8f6Finally! The next episode of the Star Wars saga was released on 12/16. It actually was available at some theaters in NYC on 12/15. It wasn’t optimal to attend that night. We acquired tickets for a late afternoon showing and prepared to be one with the Force.

I’ve grown up with Star Wars and have been a huge fan since the 70’s. (Showing my age here)

The movie release sequence has always intrigued me. Episode IV – A New Hope came out first, followed by V & VI. Then, many years later, Episodes I, II & III were produced. The Force Awakens – Episode VII was released last year and picked up the story from VI, many years afterwards.

I was curious to see how Rogue One would fit in with the story flow. Force Awakens posed so many unanswered questions and I was anticipating getting some answers in Rogue One. Did I get them? I can’t be a movie spoiler, so won’t be going into detail here.

Rogue One was a wonderful thrill ride of classic Star Wars proportions. As always, the effects were phenomenal and the action was non-stop.

rogue-one-starThe story begins where an Imperial shuttle touches down in remote farmland. They have come to pick up Galen Erso, a weapons scientist who is needed for some devilish projects. His wife is killed and his daughter Jyn escapes. Jyn is then rescued by a family friend.

Years later, she is on a transport to a prison when Rebel soldiers intercept and free her. She then becomes a reluctant part of the Rebel Alliance and assumes a key role in the struggle against the Empire.

The movie is the classic tale of good versus evil, the depiction of the difference a handful of committed individuals can make and the witty one liners that we know and love from Star Wars.

Now, I’m excited to see it again in 3D.

The Force is with me and I am one with the Force.

Ascent 302 – Good Girls Revolt

goodgirlsrevolt

While attending an event in Manhattan in October, I saw a billboard with a picture of 3 women and the provocative title Good Girls Revolt. Apparently it was an Amazon series that was going to debut at the end of October.

I didn’t think anything more of it until I saw the series available on Amazon Prime. I watched the trailer and was instantly engaged.

The show is set in a newsroom in New York City in 1969. An interesting period of time with the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, Black Panthers and more.

In the newsroom, it’s a male-oriented environment, with men leading the editorial and reporting staff and women were relegated to being coffee fetchers and researchers, not getting any editorial credit for their contributions to the publication.

It will get an emotional response as you see the treatment these women were subjected to. In the homespace also, as women were expected to settle into servitude to their husbands.

Patti is a young idealistic woman who is observing all this injustice and decides to take a stand against it. She wants to be recognized for the work that she does and acknowledged for the powerful creative woman she is. And, rightly so.

She reaches out to a couple of other ladies who become her cohorts in drumming up support & collaboration amongst the female staff to take a stand against their employer for their basic rights.

I’m 3 episodes into the series and am captivated with how this story is unfolding. It is a masterful blend of drama, human rights, equality, comedy and sexuality. The latter is tastefully done and woven into the story to add context and value to it, not just for gratuitous content.

I’m excited to see how this story unfolds and will be rooting for the Good Girls.

Ascent 301 – Learning to Drive

learning-to-driveAfter a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and the obligatory Christmas movie, we wanted to watch something fresh. After a brief perusal of the visual cornucopia that is Amazon Prime, our attention was captured by Learning to Drive.

The movie was released in 2015 and features Patricia Clarkson (who is Susan’s cousin) and Ben Kingsley. Clarkson is a writing critic whose husband has left her. Kingsley is a Sikh driving instructor who moonlights as a cab driver in Manhattan.

One night, Wendy (Clarkson) takes a cab home driven by Darwan (Kingsley). She leaves something in the cab and he drives back to her place the next day in his student driver car. As she has realized that she must learn to drive, she is pleasantly surprised to learn that he is a teacher.

As they commence lessons, the movie showcases other aspects of their respective lives. Darwan shares accommodation with several other Sikh friends and family members. He is on the verge of an arranged marriage and is coming to terms with that. Wendy is accepting her husband is not coming back and is shocked to learn that she must sell her house and provide support in the pending divorce.

As the lessons progress, so does their bond and they begin to teach each other about the new phases of their lives.

Darwan’s bride to be arrives and the marriage takes place shortly afterwards. I loved the insights into the Indian culture and the perspective of the Sikh.

Kingsley and Clarkson both gave outstanding performances as their respective characters and the evolution of each was heart warming to experience.

Ascent 300 – Doctor Strange

imagesI’ve been yearning to see this latest addition to the Marvel universe since it was released. I’ll be seeing it later this week with some fellow yogis. Last night, my schedule was clear, there was a showing nearby, so I ordered up a couple of tickets for the 5:30pm showing.

The theater is a few back roads away, so NYC rush hour traffic was not an issue.

The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a superstar neurosurgeon with a massive ego whose life is shattered after a devastating car accident robs him of the use of his hands.

After traditional Western medicine fails to help him, in desperation he heads for a place called Kamar-Taj in Kathmandu Nepal, where he hopes Eastern practices will help him.

He is advised to forget everything that he knows before he enters. When he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) he is instantly turned off when he realizes they’re about spirituality & energy, not scientific practice.

His mindset is shifted when she knocks his astral self out of his physical self, then he is shocked as they decline to treat him. He doesn’t leave and his persistence convinces them to bring him in and commence training.

Strange struggles with the practice and the exercises and is kicked into warp speed by a simple insight from the Ancient One. He then begins to expand exponentially as his powers and awareness dramatically increase.

He learns of an adversary played by Bond- villain Mads Mikkelsen, who has stolen text of an ancient ritual that can undo the world as we know it.

mark-strangeStrange is reluctantly drawn into the conflict and becomes the champion of this realm and must dig deep into his resourcefulness and powers, including breaking a few of the rules to triumph.

The effects in this movie are phenomenal, especially the changes that are made to the physical space the adversaries are in. As usual with Marvel, there are great comedic moments and witty one-liners.

It was a non-stop thrill ride with some interesting twists. I’m excited to go see it again and will try the 3D next time.

Ascent 299 – Living the 300% Life

Ascent 299 – Living the 300% Life

When I heard about the 300% Life UnConference being held by Monica Day in Manhattan, I was interested. I’ve been following Monica on FaceBook for a while and totally love her openness and authenticity. And, here she is hosting an event in my town where she shares these gifts with us.

I took advantage of this opportunity and found myself getting more and more excited as time came for it to begin.

dsc_0804The event was hosted at the Gene Frankel theater on Bond St. in the Soho district of Manhattan. The opening reception was 6:00pm to 9:00pm and the 3 active event days were 10:00am to 9:00pm. Initially, this felt like it was a little intense, especially as I needed drive to the train station, take the Long Island railroad into Penn Station then hoof it a few blocks to get the F train down to the event.

The excitement superseded everything else and the adrenaline of a new adventure was intoxicating.

Interestingly, I don’t go into Manhattan that often. My preference is actually to go east on Long Island and experience the beaches and the countryside.

The city is always an amazing paradox to me. Walking 34th St. or 5th Avenue, on one side you see exclusive stores and high end hotels, while on the other you see people sleeping on the sidewalk, covered with a dirty blanket and a small bag with all their possessions.

It is the most interesting people environment to experience. So much diversity, yet so much similarity. The stations are always teeming with noise, from the chatter of the people and the musicians performing to make some money.

I like to be a little early for everything I do to enjoy the experience of getting there, have time for a coffee and to get settled in to the space before the festivities began.

Bond street is a wonderful piece of the city’s history and is a cobbled street. The theater is one of many small intimate theaters in the city and has a wonderful ambiance and energy to it.

I was one of the first participants to arrive and got my formalities taken care of. Some hors d’oeuvres were set up, including some delicious sausage rolls.

Other participants began to arrive and we commenced connecting, getting to know each other, sharing how we know Monica and our excitement for this event.

After what seemed like an eternity, the door to the hall opened, and we were invited to take our seats. As I had volunteered to photograph the event, I opted for a seat off to the side where I could move and take pictures without disturbing the presenter or imposing on the audience.

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The room was almost full as Monica came out and took her seat on stage, welcoming us to the event and preparing us for what was to come. The first evening was an open reception and the the following 3 days were just for those who had signed up.

She had 4 wonderful presenters lined up, who shared their stories of pain, pleasure, self discovery and awareness. It was a wonderful evening of varying emotions and a great lead in to what was in store over the next 3 days.

Each of the following days was an amazing emotional and energetic experience as Monica led us in getting out of our heads and into our bodies. She shared personal stories, invited us to share ours, led us in movement and dance, performed various exercises of eclectic meanings, including tactile and kinesthetic, to open us up to the awareness, sensations and feelings of the body.

She taught us that the body is the repository of our truth and is our sacred transport. As such, we must honor it and heed it when it is trying get our attention.

I’ve been on this path for a long time and consider myself to be pretty enlightened & centered. Monica cracked me open and revealed to me an awareness that I simply didn’t have previously. To say I was amazed would be an understatement.

A significant lesson for me was on finding my edge. How much do we play safe and stay away from that edge of our awareness, that space where we can experience ultimate sensation and fulfillment?

I was truly awed at that I was introduced to and opened up to. There is so much more that I could share albeit I invite you to get to know Monica Day and experience it from her yourself. Monica’s website is

http://www.thesensuallife.com/

I’m so excited to see what unfolds as I move forward in my commitment to live a 300% Life. I’ll see you at the top.

Ascent 298 – Halloween at Chipotle

There’s been Halloween gatherings all over the place the last week or so. Tonight, on the official day, it was so great seeing all the young ones – and not so young ones – out in their costumes, ringing on doorbells and getting their goodies. It’s cool also seeing the parents dressed up with them.

We attended a Halloween party Friday night at the UU church in Manhasset, NY and got 3rd place for costumes.

Our friends Sharon and Jeff advised us that Chipotle will give a burrito for $3 if you show up in costumer. I love their burrito bowl and love hanging out with those guys, so we agreed to meet at 7pm at the Great Neck location.

We ran a couple of errands into Long Island, made a quick stop home to grab the outfits. I once again slipped on the lederhosen and ventured out into the chilly night to get my cheap grub. Next time, I’m wearing the pantyhosen too.

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Our friends arrived before we did and texted that there was a line out the door! It had receded some when we arrived. They were already seated and eating, so we said hello and got in line to get our bowl of burrito goodness.

I love the burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, veggies, steak, pico de gallo, hot salsa, guacamole and lettuce. Tonight though, I opted for the chorizo, which I hadn’t seen before.

Shortly thereafter, we joined our friends and commenced the consumption.

A handful of local police officers came in and I had to go compliment them on their costumes. Thankfully, they had a sense of humor and I didn’t acquire a set of tempered steel bracelets.

The meal was great, time with friends wonderful. Then, it was time to head home, lose the shorts and get something warm on my legs. Life is good.