Sinful & Hot Cyprus...

I recently traveled to Cyprus. It was an interesting journey in that I didn’t have a Plan A, or Plan B really. I knew I wanted a beach. That was the plan. I knew I wanted no ‘ordinary’ tourists. That was the plan. I knew I wanted a hot encounter. That was the plan. All plans lead to North Cyprus, on the far eastern end- the Karpas Peninsula.

The Karpas Peninsula is an area where the mainstreat tourist dollar has not yet reached- or to any mega-resort status. There are definitely signs of imminent resort building so I suggest that you go- NOW while it’s still pristine & low key. I would say that it is, typically, a place for tourists to drive to for a day to check out, and then trot back to their comfy hotels near the action, casinos, etc…

So, a little background is first in order to tell you all about what Cyprus is exactly… I think it’s safe to say that it is a disputed territory (island country) in the southeastern Mediterranean.  The island is divided into 2 separate ‘areas’; The Republic of Cyprus, or the southern part, which is governed by Greece, and Northern Cyprus (officially the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus TRNC), governed by Turkish Cypriots.

There is the infamous `Green Line’ that is ‘drawn across the island, horizontally, denoting north & south. Various checkpoints occur at the Green Line so that Greeks and Turks can ‘somewhat’ freely move about. I say this because it is necessary for some denizens to get a passport card stamped instead of a passport page stamped as not all is ‘paradise’ in this Mediterranean ‘paradise.’

As the contemporary story goes, in 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus. Let’s just keep this post ‘happy’ and stop right there… Politically it’s a hot plate issue throughout the region.  I love me some hot plates…

Archaeologically speaking, the island has a raich heritage with many different tribes/kingdoms leaving a historical & cultural mark in the archaeological record with a prehistory dating back to 10,000 BC.  It seems everybody wanted a piece of Cyprus’ ass, right up to our present timeline. I took a bite out of Cyprus’ ass for sure!
But I digress… back to things I can divulge…

So Cyprus had many suitors that included during Neolithic times to be the Hitites, Mycenaeans, Assyrians, Persians,  Achaemenids, & the Greeks (under Alexander the Great & the Ptolemy Dynasty).

The Romans (Holy Roman Empire) dominated the Middle Ages occupation. Well, it was the Eastern Roman Empire, or more commonly known as the Byzantine Empire that ruled Cyprus. Not to be left behind, the Ottomans took over rule right up until British occupation (oh yea, lots of Brits on Cyprus). Independence finally came in 1960, and THAT folks brings us up to date on basic Cyprus history 101. It is so much more convoluted than this, but a decent freshman start for sure.

So, off I trotted. I landed in Lefkoşa one balmy April evening.  Lefkoşa, in my opinion, is a most underrated city- prolly due to the fact that it is inland. Must be dreadfully hot in the summertime. Locals told me that a lot of citydwellers head to the coast during the summer so the city can be a skeleton of sorts. The city’s historic district sits smack in the middle of The Green Line, or the UN Buffer Zone. That is another story that I may or may not remember to get to later on…

So I’m at Ercan International Airport waiting for my ride. I was staying at http://www.burhansgoldenbeach.com/  & Burhan’s brother was picking me up.  So earlier you read about my criteria while on Cyprus and from what I read on the net, Burhan’s place was right up my alley. I did not think I would be disappointed, and I certainly was not. Of course, it was still early in the tourist season- actually it wasn’t yet tourist season, so this was equally beneficial for me. From what I know, this is the most remote part of Cyprus, and it was fantastic. Fantastic to not have to look at any highrises, or really anything at all but for a few camps in the area. There were no casinos, discos, Starbuck’s, not even any electricity where I was staying.

So I was happy. I hung out with the crew in the evenings and on the beach during the daytime. We drank. We smoked. We ate quality, wholesome food. We sat out underneath the stars, etc. Therapy. Nuff said… Gets kinda fuzzy from here anyway and I can’t divulge everything…

I decided that I wanted to check out Lefkoşa my last 2 days so off I went. I left my beach bungalow and beautiful Golden Beach where the sands stretched unblemished for kilometers & kilometers for bright lights big city… Because I had no Plan A or Plan B, I decided the night before that I would leave in the morning, so off I went again after a lovely breakfast & goodbyes to the crew. I just started walking in the direction of the city- 3 hours away… So yes, I hitchhiked. Now, this is always a preferred way to travel when you are just in that… mood. That mood that is filled with spiritual wanderlust, and time is no problem. It took me 3 rides to get into Lefkoşa and each one of them was a pleasant surprise.

My first ride, about a kilometer down the road from Burhan’s place (not because no one was stopping to pick me up, but because that was the first car that came down the road), was from 2 local farmers. They were country gentlemen. They dropped me off in Dipkarpaz- the only ‘city’ in the entire eastern end of the peninsula. Next was a guy that was going to Famugusta! What luck as that was a long journey from where we currently were. We stopped off at his sister’s house to pick her and her two children up.  Off we went. They were Kurds and excited when they found out that I lived in southeastern Turkey.  So I got to see the sights of downtown Famagusta, etc.

The last ride was just that, a fairly non-eventful ride through the island interior. Lefkoşa, as I said, is really an interesting city. The 2 different sides of the Green Line are like night and day; In the north, it is like a moment in time that has been standing still for a while. The Turkish side, in my opinion, is filled with mystery in a sort of decaying grandeur. Now, I’m just talking about the historic part of the city that straddles the Line- the Walled City as they call it because the historic part is surrounded by Venetian walls (yes, the Italians were a ((brief)) part of the island heritage as well). It has a very nostalgic feel to it. It’s like you can see through the looking glass of time into the city’s past legacy. Old signs & billboards, wallpaper that is in a continual state of peeling off the walls, musky smells in the bookstores where it appears that some books have not been touched on the shelves, etc.

In the south (Greek) part of the Walled Cirty, it just feels more contemporary, and more lively. The coffeehouses were thriving with university students. There were a lot of modern shops, in comparison to the lovely bazaar area in the north. So, traipsing between the 2 parts is no problem as there is a pedestrian walkway through the official UN Buffer Zone. There are many passport controls along the way, but it is a breeze.

I was only in the city 2 days/1 night, but definitely connected with the area. I also had the best Greek food I’ve had in a long time. Both sides of “The Line” had their merits. I will be back…

So, here are some pictures to leave you with-

My daily dose... Once an island girl, always an island girl... my life. my law...
another daily dose...

all that is required of me

it's all about symmetry. 

sea of tranquility
a windowpane into the un-tame
somewhere in here; Neptune's domaine
somewhere, something's tapping
echoing my name
not in vain
no answer
relaxation- my capability,
unencumbered style of nobility

yea, seemed the perfect time to bust out my biography on... wait for it... Mata Hari...

either sunrise, or sunset run, I can't pinpoint it exactly...

for some reason, I see a Mallard duck here...

everything is illuminated; ah the joy of life!

sand dune spilling out to the sea

you're a heartbreaker when we part from each other

rock-hopping Cyprus style

I always like to get my feet dirty

On the road again. Leaving Burhan's Beach Bungalows. Destination unknown...

A church in the lovely town of Dipkarpaz

Lefkoşa- looking south to the UN Buffer Zone from the north

Roaming through a Han in the north searching for treasures...

cool Caravanserai in the old town- north

interesting architecture: church w/minarets 

trekking through the backstreets

just having a look-see

lost somewhere in a maze of alleyways

Button button, who's got the button?

scenic scenery

next to the Buffer Zone. Last chance... off to the south...


springtime in the Fertile Crescent

It's so beautiful here in Gaziantep right now. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Grasses are green. The smell of sweet grasses wafts through the air on trail hikes up behind Gaziantep University, etc. I have been soaking it up, after a very long absence of all things sunny this winter, every moment possible. In doing so, I have forgotten to keep up with my blog.

Suddenly I realized that I need to update all of you on this wonderful occasion of spring! Being from Hawaii it is difficult to understand this concept as in the Islands there are 4 definite cycles of spring, summer, fall & winter, but the degree of change is minor. Living in Africa & Turkey the past few years has forced me to appreciate the changing weather patterns & I have never been so relieved of the coming summer season as I have been living in this part of the world!

Spring festivals are also sprouting up all around Turkey now as well. This weekend is Gaziantep University's festival and, fortunately, it is right across the street from my apartment so I am at this moment listening to the soundcheck from my living room. It serves a dual purpose as it drowns out the sounds of construction while are also across the street from me. The municipality here in Gaziantep loves to plant trees & flowers, as well as dig up sidewalks, tram lines & roads at every chance they can.

This week I find myself at the end of the school year at the university I teach at. It was a grueling year with learning how Turkish students learn basically. I learned classroom management here, yet it was frustrating every step of the way. In the end though, I feel comfortable with the style that I came up with & seemed to work most effective. No more babbling about work though because next week is FINALS!!!

My week should be relaxing as my classes are doing interviews/video & powerpoint projects for their final exams. I've seen a few previews and I am so impressed with my students creativity & dedication. After force-feeding students in the English preparatory school bookwork for 3 terms I have been rewarded with this 4th term and got to design my own curriculum for the coveted Level E students. They are definitely the cream of the crop. I mean, they understand my jokes- and even laugh at them! We have great discussions & debates and it has renewed my spirit for sure as I was a bit leery during the 1st term in terms of what I thought I could do with a group of students fresh from high school that get separation anxiety after 5 minutes of not holding their cell phones during class. Again I digress. No more talk of work...

I'm heading off to Amerika next week & totally looking forward to a few luxuries. They are:

1. going home to Maui & hanging out at the beach
2. Mexican food in NYC
3. shopping in NYC
4. yoga
5. just being with friends/family in general

My first stop is NYC. This feels like an annex home for me. I never thought I would live in NYC so going to graduate school there was a milestone & I somehow fell in love with that city. So, it's always nice to go back. There is so much I want to see/do there that I have a long list I've been compiling for a while now. As Turkey is so expensive to buy electronics (due to importation tariffs), I have a wish list to excavate through at Tekserve downtown!!!

I need to take care of all this stuff in NYC because during the Maui journey I want to do nothing but beach, surf, suck down exotic beers & other such shenanigans that are beneficial to me...

But that journey will end soon enough and I will find myself back here in full-swing sweltering summer teaching summer school courses. Normally I wouldn't find this such an attractive thing to do, but the foreign teachers are teaching high school kids from Eastern Turkey, so I am really looking forward to this. This year I didn't make it to far-Eastern Turkey so this is on my agenda for fall- perhaps during Bayram?

Speaking of travel, I have been doing a lot of this. Here are some pictures of my last Turkey Trot to Mardin. Mardin is further east/south-east from here, and another critical area in the development of the Fertile Crescent. It borders with Syria & Iraq. The architecture is beautiful & when the sun is setting, it refracts light in such a way that they (buildings) appear to be aglow w/gold glitter.

This camii was particularly interesting to me

... and one of my favorite peeps on the planet...