Sunny Side Up

It’s a beautiful day in uptown Arodhes if a tad windy…a great day for drying the washing. I have been here three weeks and in that time I have been in turn: pleasantly warm in the February sun, rained on non-stop for a week, snowed in, iced out, and hailed on, freezing cold and now back as you were, pleasantly warm in the February sunshine. Such is the roller-coaster ride of early Spring weather in Cyprus. I have been told though that this winter has been exceptionally harsh and prolonged.

Yesterday I had a day planned to go to Limassol and the day was perfect, clear blue sky and the temperature hovering around 20 degrees. My first port of call… pardon the pun, was to visit a young pioneering couple, Maria and Peter in Polemidia on the outskirts of Limassol and fast becoming swallowed up in the ever-spreading town’s suburbia.They arrived in Cyprus just a year ago with a vision of setting up an organic farm on Maria’s father’s land in Polemidia. Peter is American from Long Island originally and set out to study art but somehow got side- tracked into farming after doing an internship on an organic farm in Kentucky. To quote from their website Parhelia : “He completed apprenticeships through ATTRA on organic farms in three different states in the U.S., where he learned how to grow vegetables organically, save seeds, raise healthy animals and generally live off the land in sustainable ways. His favourite Cypriot foods are and tahinopita.”

Maria also studied art in the States after gaining a Fulbright scholarship which stipulates she must return to Cyprus after her studies for a set length of time to work in her chosen field of study.”She is a visual artist, educator and food lover. She has worked in an art museum, a university, an organic dairy farm and a farm-to-table restaurant, among other places. Having grown up in Cyprus, she recalls summers eating under the grapevine, chickens, and other living things her grandfather used to tend to.” So between them they worked out a plan for the future to combine both their loves of food and the land and have after a lot of hard work established the beginning of their dream. Such a project will take time to establish and develop into a thriving business of course but the enthusiasm and perseverance are there. It will take time to get to know both literally and metaphorically, how the land lies, what crops work best which crops take too much labour and which just grow themselves. Already they have discovered that the climate and soil of Cyprus enables most crops to grow vigorously and well, a walk around the plot showed evidence of this with some huge cabbages and cauliflowers that would do well in any garden produce show in the UK.

The land is divided up into two sections one where the crops are grown and one that is ear-marked to be more of an orchard. At the moment it has olive trees and some young fruit trees with many roaming chickens and a few clutches of young chicks. A magnificent white cockerel was showing whose boss and strutting his stuff. Amongst the many crops grown and planned to be grown, the crops available to harvest at the moment are :- cabbages, cauliflowers, chard, Cavalo Nero or Tuscan cabbage, some beautiful tender stem  broccoli, enormous fennel, kale, parsley, radichio and eggs. Every Saturday morning they open their doors to the public to allow them to come and buy this great produce. Check out their website Parhelia for details of where they are and times they are open.

As my regular readers will know, in the UK I belong to a community garden and whilst talking to Peter as we walked around the vegetable plots, I realised how much I had learned during my time there. Happily chatting about using liquid nettle feed and natural ways of deterring pests, recognising the crops common and not so common. We sat happily chatting in the sunshine talking of their plans and eating the delicious kataifi made by Maria’s mother as part of the Green Monday celebrations.

In Cyprus now there are quite a few small groups of people who are keen to move in a different direction to the focus of the majority and in a way go back to the roots of a way of living that, until very recently, was the norm all over Cyprus. In so doing they bring with them techniques and knowledge which will enable a better, healthier way of life without the hardship of previous generations and a much more environmentally and ecologically sound way of living on the land and working in harmony with nature. This island has so much potential in terms of its younger generation and riches of the land, I believe the future is very bright. I hope in my own very small way I can show examples of what is happening and showcase the people I get to know about and meet and in so doing promote Cyprus.

Pater and Maria admit is isn’t easy but they knew it would be a challenge maybe the reality was harder than they imagined but they are here and doing it. Please support them by visiting on a Saturday morning to buy their beautiful bounty, the crops are ever changing, broad beans, peas and artichokes are on their way as well as many more crops when in season.

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Nordic Connections to the Bearded Goddess of Cyprus

I have recently been contacted, through the blog, by the archaeologist Marie-Louise Winbladh who was the  curator of the Cyprus Collections in Stockholm for 30 years. Apparently Sweden has the largest collection of Cypriot antiquities in the world, who would have guessed that?

She has written many books on Cyprus’ ancient history and a new one is due out shortly, “The Bearded Goddess”. Which is why she was drawn to my site. In search of photographs of the experimental Chalcolithic village built in 1982 just outside Lemba; she stumbled upon my site in much the same way as I stumbled upon the delightful recreation of these pre-historic buildings, I would imagine.

This spot is  an oasis surrounded by cooling pine trees. In the centre are some very funkily painted round houses and the beautifully elegant, nodding spikes of asphodel are  dotted all over the scrubby ground.

Marie Louise is including some of my photos in her new book which is very pleasing. She will be visiting Cyprus in March to promote the book and give a couple of lectures on Cyprus’ bearded goddess as well as androgynes and monsters in ancient Cyprus; sounds like a fascinating subject, I’m only sorry I won’t be there to hear it. This will take place in Limassol at the Amathus Beach Hotel  as part of a Nordic Trade Fair  on March 3rd and 4th

Books by Marie-Louise

Cyprus – a Cultural Melting Pot, Stockholm 1992. Swedish only.

The Cyprus Collections in Medelhavsmuseet, Stockholm 1994.

Ancient Cults in Cyprus, Stockholm 1995. Swedish only.

An Archaeological Adventure in Cyprus. The Swedish Cyprus Expedition 1927-1931, Stockholm 1997. Picture-book in English, Swedish and Greek.

Minoans and Mycenaeans in west Crete. The Greek-Swedish Excavations at Chaniá, Stockholm 2000. Swedish & English.

Crete. Myths and Food in the Minoan World, Stockholm 2004. Swedish only.

Cyprus: Love, cult and war, Lund 2011. Swedish only.

 

Also Read:

http://armidabooks.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/the-bearded-goddess/

The Akamas – Aphrodite’s garden

Yesterday late afternoon I made a trip to Aphrodite‘s Baths up on the edge of the Akamas. It has cooled down enough now a pleasant 26 -28 degrees and  in the late afternoon there was a pleasant breeze, a perfect time to make a pilgrimage to this beautiful spot.

Cyprus is the island of Aphrodite who, legend has it rose out of the sea foam at the rock that is called Petra tou Romiou found between Paphos and Limassol. On the edge of the wilderness that is the Akamas there is a cave with a crystal clear water pool that is said to be where she bathed. Taking the road from Latchi you wind a round the coastal road with ever-changing views of the coast on your right until you come to the very edge of the Akamas.

It is some years since I have visited and the area has recently been landscaped in a very attractive way with local stone paved paths and a botanical garden laid out in its early stages.  The paths wind around up and down taking you past many indigenous bushes trees and shrubs, some have been newly planted and others have been here for many years: carob, terebinth, laurel, oleander, thyme and of course olive are just a few. The scent of the air is so good that I wished I could bottle it. There are also very tall eucalyptus trees which

must add to this heady, fragrant aroma. The Eucalyptus is not indigenous however, as it was introduced during the British rule to try to counteract the swampy areas and so reduce the mosquito population.

As I made my way down the steps to this shady, cool and tranquil grotto I heard the water trickling down into the pool. The area is completely secluded with olive, fig, eucalyptus and numerous other bushes and trees growing all around and above . The crystal clear  water in the pool is very cool I stood my foot in one of the gullies flowing from the pool and felt the tingling effects of this refreshing coolness for quite some time afterwards. Nowadays people are requested not to swim or paddle in the pool but when I first visited this was the norm. Health and safety is everywhere these days. There is close at hand however, a small rivulet running down a rock into a natural stone basin, where you can wash your hands and cool your face. From here there is the start of a nature trail that will take you on the Akamas.

Wandering back up the steps I came across a magnificent gecko who scurried away into the undergrowth before I could snap it but the young one remained quite still for some moments allowing me a shot.

I made my way around onto a high area with spectacular views over the coast and lingered for a while at this peaceful spot before making my way back as dusk was beginning to fall. Farewell until next time.