Triplogue - Cyprus

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Siegfried und Roy taking a pause at the amphitheater of Kourion

Birthplace of Aphrodite

26 October, Limassol to Pafos, 70km (a)

The sun was shining through our porthole and the sea was calm; it was as if we had entered a new galaxy. In a way, I suppose we had; during the night, we had rocked and rolled our way into the easternmost Mediterranean, cradle of the monotheistic religions and –perhaps because of this fact—one of the most politically messed-up areas on the face of the planet. Climbing out of my coffin-like upper bunk, I felt a little twinge of uncertainty creep up my spine. In just a few hours, we’d be in Cyprus, a place I’ve always associated with car bombs, snipers, militarism and ethnic mayhem.

We didn’t arrive in port until past two, some three hours behind schedule due to last night’s weather. Eric and Anne, a British couple we had met at dinner, pointed out the island’s main geographical features as we cruised by them. They had been here before and gave us sound advice, though all I could think about were the hills we would be climbing, since the whole of the island looked pretty mountainous to me. John was on deck, too, as were a seemingly growing band of hippies of indeterminate origin, who provided entertainment with a frenzy of singing, dancing and yogic chanting. When we were actually able to hear each other over all the noise, we learned that John –plump, balding and definitely eccentric-- was an air traffic controller in Fairbanks, Alaska. He planned to spend only two days in Cyprus, which he figured was enough time to check out the Green Line. He also provided us with some rather hair-raising tales of airplanes nearly crashing into each other.

Even though the seas were calm today, the disembarkation process was just as chaotic as it had been in Rhodes. The disorganized crew screamed out conflicting commands, the immigration officer on the gangplank appeared to have little grasp of his duties, and every car and truck wanted to be the first off the boat. No doubt about it: we had left the civilized world far behind us.

The first real sign that we were in a new place, though, was that the traffic was driving on the left. Neither of us was aware of this detail at first, and we nearly headed straight into a line of honking cars when we turned out of the entrance to the port. The center of town was several nerve-racking kilometers away. In a matter of minutes Cypriot drivers had earned the BikeBrats title for Worst Drivers in the World. More than once I had to brake hard in order to avoid colliding with a car turning left in front of me. It was if we were completely invisible to them.

The search for a place to stay entailed more than the usual hassle, too. While plenty of hotels lined the seaside promenade in the center of town, none of them seemed to want to deal with our bikes. "Outside" was the universal response as to where we could leave them, even in divey places with balconies large enough to accommodate a tank. Finally we resigned ourselves to this fact and checked into a place that gave us a good deal on a two-room suite which featured plenty of yoga room and a telephone that Fred thought would be easy to hook up to. We hadn’t been able to collect our e-mail in over two weeks, and it came as a happy surprise when we heard the modem connect for a change. This fact caused us to reserve judgment on Cyprus, tempted as we were to write off the whole place as a barbaric hellhole.

After a nap, a mediocre meal and a highly beneficial yoga session, we readied ourselves to hit the town. The first queer bar we found was right near our hotel, and it seemed very happening for being in a country where homosexuality was until very recently treated as a crime. Even the "intent to commit a homosexual act" (e.g. propositioning someone) was a prisonable offense, carrying a sentence of three to five years. The place was enormous, with high ceilings and as tasteful a decor as one is likely to find on Cyprus, and filled with a boisterous, mixed crowd. Recognizing us as outsiders, Stellios, the friendly owner, latched on to us immediately. He told us how he had lived in Paris in the ‘60’s and had also spent lots of time in California. Fred and I wondered if he was related to Siegfried and Roy, since he seemed to ascribe to the same aesthetic. His compact body was encased in a little black ensemble, opened in front to reveal a large number of gold chains, and his enormous head was topped with a lacquered helmet of something resembling hair, framing an alarming face apparently constructed of overly stretched leather. And the snifter of cognac in his hand seemed fused on, part of his anatomy. I wondered if I’d ever be able to transform myself into such an extraordinary creature in my dotage, or if I’ll follow the more standard route of running a dusty antique or book shop full of cats, lounging around in a mumu and listening to recordings of Maria Callas.

Our host informed us that the drag show was about to begin, warning us not to expect much. I thought he was just being modest, but the spectacle which ensued was truly the worst I’ve ever witnessed –the kind of show where they ought to hand out shovels beforehand to allow you to dig yourself a hole to hide in. One performer in particular had perfected a sort of Brechtian drag routine, wherein he’d lip-synch maudlin Greek ballads while staggering around stage clutching a bottle of booze, his wig askew, his dress three sizes too small, and his gonads untucked. Another performer was a pioneer in the extremely dubious art of drag-striptease. Much more genuine entertainment was supplied by a boy sitting at the table in front of us, who told Fred in no uncertain terms not to look at him. Unable to restrain myself, I yelled into his ear, "Exactly what kind of loser are you, anyway?" Thankfully, he didn’t understand me; nor did he press any charges against Fred, who probably wouldn’t enjoy Cypriot jail.

Once the show was over (its only merit was its brevity), Fred got himself into yet another argument with a malodorous young chap called Nikos, who voiced disdain for the Turks and all things Turkish, while I hobnobbed with Nicolai the Russian, who had recently left a teaching career to pursue investment banking. (Ironically Nikos claimed that all Turks were dirty - F)

Very rarely do we stay out late on the eve of a riding day, but we knew that today would be a short one, at least in terms of mileage. Pafos is only 70 kilometers from Limassol on the map, yet it felt a lot longer.

We set out just after lunch –a feta-free xoriatiki plus a lame excuse for a pizza—retracing our hazardous route to the port, and then beyond the city limits through a wonderfully level area of orchards and vineyards. The flat terrain didn’t last long, however. At the unremarkable archeological site of Kourion, the road made a sharp turn skywards. In a matter of minutes we were glistening with sweat and pumping along a high cliff with fantastic views of the azure sea below. Then our route plunged and dipped and climbed again through a very extensive British military base before dumping us abruptly onto the hell of the main highway, and the only road to Pafos.

It was one of those moments of existential crisis. We were climbing up the most brutal hill of the day, on a ridiculously narrow road, and the traffic was nothing short of horrendous. The steady caravan of shiny new sports utility vehicles gave us no room at all, whizzing by at speeds that can only be described as unsafe. "Why am I doing this?" I thought. "I really don’t want to be here; if only I had a home to go back to…" Later Fred told me he was experiencing a similar crise de foi. Then, as if in a dream, we heard a distinctly friendly honk among the roar, and saw a couple furiously waving at us. It was Eric and Anne, the Britannic couple from the Nissos Kypros, and they wanted to buy us a beer. (I was a little worried that timid and proper Eric and Anne had seen Andy flipping off nearly every motorist that passed - F) We must have looked a pretty miserable sight, slick with sweat and grime and utterly frazzled by the traffic. Of course beer was out of the question, since we needed all our concentration if we wanted to survive this road, but we did accept iced coffee.

I didn’t realize how much I needed the break until we stopped, high atop a mountain in a place called Pissouri. It felt fantastic to be off the road and conversing with civilized people. The several bags of potato chips were a big help, too, replacing all the salt we’d lost. At my insistence, Eric gave us a detailed hill- and traffic- profile of the road ahead, reassuring us that there were only a couple of more climbs. I hoped with every fiber of my being that it wasn’t just British understatement, but he turned out to be right. From our coffee stop we plunged back down to sea level, with only a couple more climbs, neither of which held a candle to Pissouri in terms of nastiness. An added bonus was the beauty of the coastline, which distracted me somewhat from the noise of the evil autos that continued to scream by.

At the alleged birthplace of Aphrodite we stopped for an ice cream and watched a foursome of vulgar, mafiaesque Russians cavort along the edge of the cliff. Nearing Pafos, the terrain evolved into something far more manageable, and a stiff wind at our backs had us there in no time, which was not a moment too soon.

Learning only yesterday that Cyprus is a big destination for Brits on package tours, I was completely unprepared for Pafos. I had included it on the itinerary in order to check out the supposedly famous mosaics here, not knowing that we’d be staying in the Las Vegas of Cyprus for the privilege. A seemingly endless strip of resort hotels lined the coastline into the center of town, where we scored an apartment in a complex normally reserved for down-market package tours. When we walked out in search of dinner, we found ourselves surrounded by a veritable sea of Britannic tourist swill: fish-and-chips stands, bars advertising cheap pints and live rugby coverage, tacky souvenir shops.

Luckily we had a guide in the person of John. We met him the night before in Limassol, and he gave us his number in Pafos, where he has lived as a refugee from Dutch weather for five years now. He took us out for drinks in a fairly skanky outdoor bar and told us with great enthusiasm all about his libidnous exploits. Claiming to be just over fifty years old but looking two decades older, he manages to feed from a veritable cornucopia of young Cypriot boys. His latest boyfriend, he lamented, resides with his parents and lives in constant fear of being "found out." Even John displayed a certain amount of circumspection, refusing to accompany us to Pafos’s only "gay bar" on the grounds that "I wouldn’t want anyone to see me there." Expecting a den of iniquity, we were bitterly disappointed by the bar –called "Different"—which appeared to be the watering hole of choice for local yuppies and glamourbabes. Everyone but us was all gussied up for Saturday night, and the flamboyant bartender/owner seemed to be the only other homo around. On the positive side, the bar’s total lack of appeal provided us with a good excuse to climb into our beds and read.

Our plan to ride up to the mountains the following day was frustrated by a string of thunderstorms and pounding rain. So we settled for a lazy day of poking around ruins and admiring the mosaics in our rainsuits, playing backgammon in cafes, gorging ourselves on a delicious Indian dinner, and not much else.

28 October, Pafos to Pera-pedhi, 68 km (f)

After our first day’s ride in Cyprus I couldn’t decide what seemed more absurd, the political situation here or the idea of riding a bike on this island. (A brief oral history of the situation here was relayed by Eric and Anne at our rest the other day. They lowered their voices a number of times so not to be overheard by others in the restaurant. Apparently the Greeks came down here and planted a seed of discontent in the brains of the recently liberated Cypriots. They proposed that it might be a great idea to have an all Greek government and maybe reunite with Greece. They seemed to forget about the fact that well over a third of the population here was Turkish and Muslim. They started persecuting the Turks and excluding them from the government. Looking at a map you may have noticed that Turkey is a little closer to Cyprus than Greece. If you have ever met a Turk you may know that they are a proud people and don’t take well to seeing their own abused, hence their subsequent invasion and annexing of one-third of Cyprus should come as no surprise. Except if you are a Greek or Greek Cypriot and have your head deeply buried in the sand.)

The ridiculousness of riding in Cyprus was not soon forgotten. We began roughly where we had ended two days earlier --on the hideously narrow road now joined by impatient weekday Cypriot drivers as well as a generous number of nervous tourists each in his rented Suzuki Samarai. I narrowly escaped being run over by a slow moving truck when I erroneously assumed that a blinking left hand turn signal meant that the driver intended to turn left. Silly me! Thankfully I was marginally faster than the truck and its wild-eyed driver and lived to tell this tale. I can’t begin to tell you what the terrain along the road looked like because I have no memory of it except of the white line marking the highway edge and my effort trying to keep my bike as close to it as possible.

After about 15K of torture we turned off the main highway onto a little road by a dam. At first we guessed that we’d made a mistake. There were no drivers on the road. Just when we’d become accustomed to riding as though our lives would end at any moment we suddenly found ourselves breathing, looking around and, remarkably, enjoying riding once again. It seemed strange what difference it was to ride a few meters from the main road. The cars that did pass us did so sanely, all the cars not just the timid tourists. This also marked the end of our sea-level ride. We began climbing abruptly and the altitude afforded us sweeping views across the brown brushy hills to the teal sea. Sweat poured off our bodies as we puffed up the canyon towards the mountains.

Miraculously, just as I began to feel as though I’d perspired out all of my salt a little restaurant appeared. It turned out not to be a restaurant but a convenience store with a very limited selection of food. We were satisfied nonetheless by a package of cookies, two bags of chips and more beverages than you could shake a stick at. The shop keep spoke no English except to tell us the price of our consumption and repeatedly tell us that they had no sandwiches.

Some three hundred meters higher up the mountain we found another "restaurant". This one run by a woman with brillo pads for hair and loads of cats roaming around her yard. She made us nasty canned lunch meat sandwiches while Andy played with the cats. I watched in amusement while his eyes turned red from his allergies. He cried and sneezed while demonstrating the "international kitty pet" to the locals and feeding the little pregos his luncheon meat. The cats were greatly satisfied by the attention Andy gave if not by our lunch which one nearly gagged on.

After lunch the road pitched upward at an even steeper grade. We pumped and dripped through dinky villages full of women dressed like nuns and their mustached husbands. Judging by their reactions of disbelief our kind of travel is not commonplace here or they were shocked that we hadn’t been run over already on the main road. We ascended to 860 meters before leveling off and gradually descending. After only 60km I was already a bit tired and ready to call it a day. Andy, in contrast, exclaimed that he could ride an equal distance and climb an equal amount before stopping for the night. Just the same, we had the option of climbing further and riding another five kilometers or descending to the next village to call it a day. Andy voted for descent and I could hardly disagree. It was the fastest five kilometers I’d ridden in a long time. Reaching speeds over 60km/h we zipped into Pera-Pedhi. Traveling so fast we almost completely overshot the village until stopping at its edge in search of a place to lodge for the night. For a few moments we were worried that we might have to back-track the five km up to the last village and ride another five km up because we couldn’t find anyplace to stay. I wouldn’t call the villagers exactly warm and helpful either. Two loafing octogenarians opted to make lewd gestures at Andrew rather than help us locate a room. Another told us that there were no rooms in town (ironically we saw him drinking later in the restaurant of the pension we ended up staying in).

Defeated and tired (even though Andy "could ride another 60km and climb another 1200 meters") we began to backtrack up the hill. Just before leaving the village we came upon a sign advertising rooms and scrambled up the dirt driveway to inquire about them. Nick, the owner, and his snarling dog Wolfie greeted us smiling. Nick showed us a "just completed" room and a place for our bikes and we were sold. He offered to make us a roasted chicken for dinner and I was more than satisfied. So what if the room would never be featured in Architectural Digest, the pink plaid comforters and matching towels would do the trick and left us wondering if Nick was widowed or a little light in his loafers.

After check-in and before dinner I went on with the laborious task of finishing "Beloved" by Toni Morrison while Andrew caught up on writing his delinquent passages. If she can win a Nobel Prize….

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Serene cycling in the Troodos mountains

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On the road to Nicosia

29 October, Pera-Pedhi to Nicosia, 83km (a)

Getting out of bed proved a difficult task this morning; we could practically see our breath in the cold mountain air that filled our room, and padding around on the tile floor felt like walking on ice. While Fred went through his usual busy morning routine, I remained buried deep under my covers until I heard our host knocking around in the kitchen below us, hopefully preparing our coffee. Munching on our toast, we learned from the t.v. that the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped over five hundred points while we slept, an event which felt impossibly remote here in the Cypriot hinterland.

I knew from the map that this morning would entail a six-hundred meter climb, but not before making a major withdrawal from the altitude bank. Still dazed after a single cup of nasty nescafe, I couldn’t fully appreciate the chilly, curving descent into Saitas, over two hundred meters below Chez Nick. The ensuing climb woke me up though. Our legs still felt rubbery from yesterday’s climbing so we felt every push of the pedal up the relentless 10km ascent. At the top my altimeter read 1150 meters. We paused at a traileresque snack stand for some salty snacks and a healthy dose of chilly mountain air before dressing ourselves for the long ride down.

Twisting down the slopes at the same speed as the motor traffic, I kept marveling that we’d managed to climb so high in just over an hour. While I thought we’d visit a couple of villages and their famous painted churches on the way down, we changed our mind about being tourists in the Brit-infested town of Kakopetria, where touts in front of cookie-cutter tavernas greeted us with "hello my friend" as we whizzed down the steep street. Poorly marked by befuddling road signs, the churches either eluded us or were atop impossibly steep hills. After convincing ourselves that they couldn’t be as impressive as the many old churches we had seen in Turkey, we opted to continue down towards Nicosia, capital of this screwed-up country and supposedly the world’s only remaining "divided city."

Traffic picked up as we descended towards the arid, undulating plain containing Nicosia and its confusing mess of suburbs. The road was obviously new, a replacement for the useless old road now bisected numerous times by the green line. Propaganda billboards lined our route, as well as abandoned buses from now-Turkish towns, signs forbidding the taking of photographs, and a string of lookout towers both Greek and Turkish. The many UN vehicles passing us completed the impression that we had entered a zone fraught with conflict. Finally, we were in the Cyprus of my media-driven expectations.

These impressions grew increasingly stronger as we approached Nicosia. My map showed a quieter alternative to the main road, but after a blissful kilometer’s pedal the route was barred by masses of barbed wire and unfriendly signage. It struck us as odd that the road had been marked as leading to "Nicosia International Airport" (and odder still when we learned that this airport has been abandoned due to its placement in the "buffer zone"). In any case, this forced us back onto the main road, which promptly turned into a freeway filled with Mario Andretti wannabes. Off in the distance an enormous Turkish Cypriot flag made of white rocks covered the better part of a mountain, an unmistakable "fuck you" to South Nicosia. Later we learned that this landmark had been created by survivors of a particularly brutal massacre of a Turkish village at the hands of Greek Cypriots. Visible from miles around, it serves as a constant reminder for Turks and Greeks alike, though the two factions doubtless have widely varying interpretations of its significance.

After many bewildering twists and turns in the route, we finally found our way into the heart of town. Since it was a holiday (marking the anniversary of Mussolini’s declaration of war on Greece), the tourist information booth was closed, making us rely upon the lodging advice of a friendly waiter at a touristy taverna. After settling in at Tony’s cramped-but-homey Bed and Breakfast, we walked around the old part of town (delineated by an incredibly intact 11-bastioned Venetian wall, of which five bastions each have been allocated to the Turks and Greeks respectively, the eleventh under UN control). The green line beckoned us like a magnet, cutting right through avenues and streets of what used to be the town’s commercial center, marked by crude sandbag bunkers and eerily dark guardposts. It’s like a Lilliputian pre-unification Berlin, ridiculous –almost cutesy—in scale but deadly serious as a palpable barrier of hate.

Most of Nicosia’s center (at least on the Greek side) has an abandoned, ghost-town feel to it, not unlike Saint Louis or Detroit. Fred and I kept marveling aloud how creepy it felt, and how weird and unhealthy it would be to grow up in such a place. As if to prove our point, a mad motorist appeared out of nowhere along a deserted, darkened street, gunning his motor and acting as if wanting to mow us down. When he rounded the block and turned up again, we noted his licence plate (AAE123) and after a long standoff in which he stayed parked at an intersection while we screamed that we’d call the police, he mercifully let us alone. We were shaken up enough to pick up a couple of rocks in case he came around again and made a point of staying on busier streets thereafter. In a sick sort of way, I was thrilled to have Nicosia live up to my expectations, though it’s hardly a place I’d choose for a prolonged vacation.

The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (f)

I’d anticipated this day since our arrival in Cyprus. My imagination went into overtime. I gathered that we’d have to jump through hoops, spit nickels, be strip searched, interrogated, embarrassed and cajoled in order to pass the border. In execution it turned out to be markedly easier than getting information about ferry schedules in Athens. We simply walked to the border, registered on the Greek side, passed immigration on the Turkish side, bought our visas and walked across the green line.

There were a few remarkable sights along the way that did leave an impression. First many of the buildings just before the border on the Greek side had undergone trauma. Their blemishes and wounds ranged from gunshot induced chips in plaster to roofs ripped off from mortar fire. Many had anti-Turkish graffiti including intellectual barbs like "suck my Greek dick you murdering Turkish pigs." Huge billboards decorated the Greek border with graphic color photos of bloodied bodies of innocent Greeks. One was beaten to death on the Turkish side leaving a pregnant wife. Strangely there was no detail as to why a hoard of Turks might have decided to beat him to death or the circumstance of his visit to the Turkish side, leading us to question their propaganda.

After crossing the Greek border and passing menacing tangles of razor wire we entered the UN buffer zone, strangely the first building we came to was the German Cultural Center. I wondered to myself about many visitors they receive in this location. Next, a formerly glamorous hotel, its carved limestone facade pockmarked by gun and mortar fire now house a contingent of UN peace keepers. Leaving the propaganda-free zone (the UN buffer zone) passing yet another nest of razor wire and a dozing robin’s egg blue hatted UN guard we entered the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC). Immediately we were greeted by display cases with black and white photos showing atrocities committed by the Greeks. Frankly they were better propaganda vehicles than the flashy Greek ones. Their matter of fact presentation clearly detailed the who, what, when, where and why’s of the situation.

After the drama of the crossing the rest of the visit seemed largely anticlimactic. The north side of the city was much sleepier than the south. Apparently few Turks live on this side of the city. Underscoring this fact is that the Turks have imported Anatolians from the mainland to inhabit the city. The first thing that struck me was the civility of the traffic compared to the south. I found myself marveling at how quiet the streets were and how calm the drivers were. We encountered only a few cases of BCS (Big Car Syndrome – where the owner of a fancy vehicle imagines that he bought the road and the right to maim along with his expensive car) while in the TRNC. We did encounter lots of the same friendly, easy going, honest and clean Turks like the ones we’d met in Turkey.

Unfortunately our sight seeing would be limited to the outside of many buildings. We’d come to the TRNC on a very special day, the anniversary of the death of their revered deceased leader Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. We arrived at the one gate through city walls on the Turkish side to see a massive gathering of army personnel and civilians commemorating this day. Huge banners proclaiming their relationship with the "motherland", Turkish flags and balloons decorated the square. We listened to the military band play "taps" and the crowd sob while the flag was lowered and raised again in Ataturk’s honor.

From the demonstration we walked down the main street to an eight story hotel in the center of town. There we went to the top to see the view of both sides of the green line from above. From this vantage point you could see the disheveled buildings in the buffer zone decaying from disuse. Among them is rumored to be a warehouse full of "new" 1974 Toyotas and Nissans. They were supposedly rushed to their resting place there from Famagusta as they were partitioning the country. They were thought to be safer here than in the new Turkish port there.

Further wanderings revealed architectural curiosities like the massive Venetian gothic churches that were hastily converted into mosques. Their bell towers converted to minarets and their worship spaces re-oriented to face Mecca.

Somehow I couldn’t find a single smelly, dirty, mean and violent Turk that I had been warned about. What we did manage to find was a very tasty pide (Turkish pizza). Crescent shaped, filled with goat cheese and lamb sausage, it made a yummy picnic in front of the cloisters of one of the gothic mosques. Strolling along the green line of the TRNC we saw no armed soldiers as we had on the other side. We speculated that they were either much more lax about the patrol of the border, or that everyone was celebrating Ataturk’s holiday. In any case we were afforded many opportunities to photograph the green line from this side.

Even though the day in the TRNC had gone without a hitch, I approached our crossing back to the Greek side with trepidation. I worried about the photos we’d taken of the line and confusion about our digital camera. In actuality the trip back was even easier than the trip there. We simply walked through the border largely unquestioned by either side except to view our passports.

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Remembering Ataturk

North Nicosia's answer to Domino's Pizza

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JAPOR

30 October, Nicosia to Limassol, 85 km (f)

At breakfast in the rooftop garden of Tony’s B&B we munched fried eggs, slurped Nescafe and readied ourselves for the day ahead. We met a couple of Dutch travelers and convinced them that it was easy to get to the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) and told them how to get there before departing.

As for the ride, Andy had told me that it would be an easy day, only 85 kilometers and "pretty flat". I found myself huffing and puffing climbing out of Nicosia as we pedaled over rolling hills. Fortunately the traffic was more respectful than I thought they’d be and the road better. The landscape of suburban Nicosia is not worth mention. Some have compared it to Los Angeles, but I think Eastern Europe suburbs are a better comparison. We’d opted to take the old road to Limassol, leaving the superhighway to the leadfooted masses. The first part of this route was not much prettier than the suburbs of the city. Dominated by industrial sprawl I began to wonder if the whole trip would be like this. Good fortune smiled upon us and warehouses gave way to rural landscapes. Scrubby bushes and eucalyptus trees covered the hills and I was reminded of my origins in Southern California.

Before long we’d pedaled half way to Limasol helped along by stiff tail winds. We stopped for souvlaki and chicken shish at a roadside stand having a beer and a game of backgammon for dessert. I was so full after lunch the hills seemed insurmountable. Further complicating matters, the wind seemed to have shifted 180 degrees and was now blowing in our face. We climbed and fell over and over again finally making it to our tourist stop for the day, the Neolithic ruins of Kakopetria. Though probably very interesting to the archeologists who discovered them and the historians analyzing them the outdoor museum looked like JAPOR to us (just another pile of rocks). The fantastic mosaics and remains of buildings seen at other Greek, Roman and Byzantine sights had spoiled us.

In the afternoon we were greeted with a headwind that rendered the afternoon’s ride into Limasol a challenge. Still we hustled down to the coast after a few very satisfying downhills. The very last part of the ride was nearly unbearable. Fifteen kilometers past a seemingly endless chain of tourist hotels ranging from elegant to trashy. Torrents of tourist-filled cars and busses whooshed by us numbing us to the beauty of the beaches and coast we passed. Andy said it made Paphos look charming in comparison. Back in Limassol we looked forward to a day of relaxation and a trip to Stellios’ fantastic bar.

At the bar we met a young and handsome soldier with a clear picture of his mission in the army. When asked what he’d do if he saw a Turk he said " I’d not shoot him. I would stick him with my knife and drink his blood!" Still we found him charming somehow, but so much for a peacefully unified island.


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