Crunch
Crunch
Crunch
Scraaaatch
Crunch
Scratchhhhhh

“What is this?” Ben asked, “All these noises and I can’t see a damn thing.” Past the rain drops and dark skies, all else was left to the imagination.
He pulled out his phone to shine a light on what was causing these unusual noises.

Crunch
Crunch
One snail. Two snails. Squashed.

Scratch. Scraatttttchhhh.
Spines of cacti meeting our coat sleeves with outstretched arms. Where were we, the Amazon Desert? The Sahara Rainforest? Pouring rains mixed with cacti and escargot made for a strange welcoming to this new country.

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We were back to a familiar sea, the same waters we’d originally visited on this trip but 500 kilometers away. After a picturesque sunset above clouds literally bursting at their oversaturated seams, we’d landed on the island of Cyprus. Our first stop: Paphos.
We danced in the rain while looking for Apartment #10 as our booking had directed us to do, and soon realized an independent search for the unmarked door would be made better if assisted by a local. Sound squeezed through the sill of a closed first floor window, so I approached it and gave it a light knock. From inside, I could hear voices talking over the sound of a television show. “Yasas. Hello?” I called to the dark rectangle, not sure if my limited knowledge of the Greek language would do the trick.

Slowly, a panel slid open and a golden haired snout appeared. Behind it, a woman in her forties replied, “Yasas.”
“Hello. English?”
With her approving nod, I quickly explained we were looking for apartment ten in order to check in for our night’s stay. I showed her the reservation information, and she excitedly pulled out her phone. “Yes, yes. Sorry for you. Dog run in rain.” Understood. Her dog may have run out if she had opened the door. That, and the lack of fairytales beginning with two strangers rapping on a your window during a stormy night, made her apprehension understandable.
Without further hesitation, she called the number listed on our confirmation email and told her neighbor that his guests had arrived. We were in! “Thank you! Efcharistó!”

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The next morning, we opened our eyes to see clouds of puffy white had kindly replaced the angry grey skies. Snails had retreated back to their secret hiding places where dampness still kept, and cacti held water in their bowl-shaped arms.
We walked a few minutes from our apartment to a large landmass, a UNESCO World Heritage Site named Tomb of the Kings. Filled with uncovered tombs, it is believed to once be burial grounds of wealthy aristocrats rather than actual kings, and today appears as a combination of Irish landscapes and an underground Petra, with the Mediterranean at its front door.
From there, we followed the seaside walkways past cafes closed for the winter, a peaceful lighthouse sitting lightly upon a hill, and continued all the way to Paphos Castle. Here, another instance of name deceit, as this boxy medieval structure stands guard of Paphos Harbor, acting as the town’s fortress and prison since before the 13th century.

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Past the fortress, the harbor has become quite a tourist attraction, lined with ice cream stands, restaurants and souvenir shops selling Aphrodite paraphernalia as a reminder of the city’s claim to fame. It is said to be home of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Fertility, and daughter of Zeus. To the east of the city is a stack of rocks named Petra tou Romiou, where it is said she was born (though accounts vary and I’m not a Greek history buff – so if you know more, please share!!)
We stayed in the main harbor area until dusk, and decided last minute to take the same pathway back to our apartment as we’d taken that morning. The timing was perfect. As we walked back, the sun set over the Mediterranean with the most fantastic display of pinks, golds and oranges playing off the day’s silky clouds. We slowed down and stopped frequently to watch the dramatic rotation of the earth continue until the sun disappeared with a bright burst of light into the sky.

The Tomb of the Kings, the birthplace of Aphrodite, strangers opening their doors to help, and escargot a-plenty. Welcome to Cyprus.

2 Comments

  1. Ah, This is now added to my destination list! You have such a great writing style, I can’t wait to read more of your stuff!

    Like

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