Larnaca, Cyprus: Hurricane Gales and Treehouse Tales

Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and a common fruit in Cyprus - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps -
Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and a common fruit in Cyprus – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps –


We sat in the darkness, reminiscing about days past. We’d managed to pull off a last minute trip to Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus. Averaging 25,000 steps in any given day, eating street food, finding our way to Jordan and back, relaxing in the Dead Sea, meeting a fellow Minnesotan on our way to the Red Sea, and watching flamingos flutter for hours in a salt lake. We’d gone through spells of never talking, of always talking, of talking and not listening, of listening and not talking. We’d realized the other’s needs, shut up when one was too bossy for her own good, shut up when one was too whiny for his own good, spoke up when one moment was to incredible for our own good.

In the pitch black we listened to rain pound on the rooftop of our beachside cottage. ‘A treehouse’ they’d called it ‘right on the Mediterranean’ they assured. Right on the Mediterranean where hurricane season is apparently in full bloom! We’d battled rains during our week together on the island of Cyprus, but instead of becoming discouraged, we became encouraged. Rain here means the next day will bring sun. Sun here means the next day will bring rain. In a type of unpredictable predictability, we’d traveled through Paphos and Larnaca. From west to east coast. And still on the other side of the island, we found sun and rain constantly battling for attention.

On this particular night, our last night, rain won.


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Earlier in the day, we’d joined a tour of local art stores and pottery shops sponsored by Larnaca’s tourism agency. Our guide was a retired woman with a thick German accent. From the time she pointed out a rare species of date tree to the inside jokes she shared with local shop owners, it was apparent that art, botany and architecture were her passions. Ten of us from various countries, ages and backgrounds followed her first to a pottery shop, then to learn about the craft of making antique replicas, and finally to a sculptor’s upscale display room.  A unique invitation into the personal lives of locals, the tour led us through a lesser-known classic art scene of the city and of the country.

During our time on the island, we’d fallen for three meals: a traditional English breakfast, kebab, and Cyprus’s own halloumi cheese served with cucumber and tomato. That day after the tour, we’d feasted on a late lunch of kebab stuffed inside a pita along with salad and a creamy tzitziki sauce.

With bellies full, we excitedly went to find a famous flock of feathered friends bathing in Larnaca’s Salt Lake. Thousands of flamingos fill the lake each winter as they stop on the island for a rest between Turkey and Africa. Their numbers were innumerable – as small flocks joined with more and more, taking flight across the lake into and out of hidden bays and crevices. Feathers of various shades of pink were made extra bright as they flew, showing off the most vibrant colors only as they glided through the air with perfectly still bodies. We stood captivated by their lanky legs beating back and forth as they stirred up dinner, and tried our best to approach several groups slowly as not to frighten them. The city had many lovely finds, but this was by far the most incredible.


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After all the walking, we thought a quick break back at our ‘treehouse’ would be a good idea. Later we’d go for dinner. Later never came, as the rains which previously speckled our skin now pelted so hard the windows shook. Every now and again, one of us would climb up a wide log ladder to the attic to see if all the windows were intact. Luckily, they withstood winds the city hadn’t seen since several decades prior.

It went without saying that there would be no dinner out that night.

The hungry hungry hippo that I was, I popped open my laptop and began to search for food delivery services. Who can go to bed on an empty stomach? Not me. Not Ben. And certainly not on the last night of our vacation!

Just as I found a place that looked promising, an awful grey screen appeared before me. “You are not connected to the internet.”

Simultaneously, the lamp to my left and the overhead light went dark.

That was it. No internet. No lights. No electricity. No food! It was doomsday on the island of Cyprus. And unless we wanted to swim somewhere (which looking back, sounds like a good idea), we would be staying that way until morning. You see, without internet and without an international phone plan, we weren’t able to contact the owner of the apartment to let him know about the outage.

So we waited and waited. I stood at the window and watched the rain begin to flood the streets, whipping left and right with the changing of winds. Ben relaxed in his bed, most likely wondering how he ended up there with his crazy little sister insisting that despite the rains, she go to the store to find something, anything, to stop the rumbling in her tummy.

Finally, I made a break for it. “I’m going,” I insisted … but didn’t go. “Should I?” …

“Yes I think I should. Ok, I’m going.”

To top off my fashionable pink and white flannel pants, I put on some green flip-flops, a lime green raincoat, and opened up a brown and tan leopard print umbrella. Nothing could stop this girl!



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Into the dark damp night I went. Twenty minutes later, a light caught my eye. It was coming from a little Russian kiosk. Inside, the owner directed me on which snacks to get and off I went, back home through the much lighter rains. I felt like I was walking home with an A+ paper in hand: so proud to present this little unexpected surprise. Ben was surprised alright. Especially when we opened the little baggies of crouton-like snacks and caught a whiff of the unrecognizable stench. I glanced at the bag closer and sounded out the cyrillic writing. “Cheese. Bacon. Salmon.” Salmon croutons? Really, this is how we were to celebrate our last meal? Yes, really.

So we did!

Without lights or internet, we were still able to watch a few clips of a show saved on my hard drive. Not caring as much about the show, we drowned out its dialogue by discussing all the insane experiences budget travel brings. I guarantee if we’d decided to travel with a more flexible wallet, very few of these escapades would’ve come about. We could have stayed in four and five star hotels, taken taxis everywhere, eaten in true restaurants with proper waitstaff, and embarked on all inclusive tours of must-see destinations along the way.

But then we never would have gotten to try salmon flavored croutons. Or, you know, done any of the other crazy things we remembered on that (not-really-a) hurricane driven pitch black night.

Flamingos at rest in Larnaca's Salt Lake - by Anika Mikkelson - Miss Maps -
Flamingos at rest in Larnaca’s Salt Lake – by Anika Mikkelson – Miss Maps –

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