Saturday, July 15, 2006

how many cypriots does it take to unlock a car?

apparently at least eight.

but this isn't an ordinary unlocking. it is the kind that takes place when a stupido tourist like myself locks her keys in the rental car.

this is how i started off my day.

first i went to the bakery, where i picked up olive bread, halloumi bread, a fat ham and cheese pastry, and another crispy pastry stuffed with a sweet cheese and sprinkled with powdered sugar. then i went to the grocery store where i picked up milk, bacon, frozen halloumi stuffed ravioli, juice and a cheap beach towel with dolphins on it. i returned to a locked car, keys in the ignition. so i walked back to our flat, which wasn't all that far. and then i walked with my mom back to the car because she speaks greek. she talked to the grocer who talked to his friend who drove off to get the mechanic. the mechanic arrived and wedged the window slightly open with strange expandable device, and stuck in various wires, first trying to press the unlock button, and then trying to pull the keys from the ignition, and then simply pulling the lock up with success. several villagers and ourselves looked on with suspense while he performed his operation. twenty pounds and two hours later we were able to get into our car and drive.


i was in a pretty fowl mood after that. it was a sort of climax to all the bad communication that has been going on between my mom, my aunt, and yes, myself. i'm tired of being told where to park, and how to back up, and what to eat and how to eat it. i'm tired of the fact that one person wants to take this path to the beach while the other wants to take the other. life is tough isn't it? ok, that's the end of my vent for now.

last night two of my cypriot-born-now-american cousins and their wives arrived from the states. the last time i saw them i was basically tashi's age. that would be 31 years ago. so we had a big family dinner at a great fish restaurant on the latchi harbor. it was a good old fashioned fish mezze. one plate after another of mussels, calamari, octopus, snapper, swordfish, awesome village salads, bread sprinkled with olive oil and herbs, taziki, taramosalata, and tahini.

today we all went to another beach on akamas, a protected cape of northwestern cyprus where there is a famous spring where, it is said, aphrodite used to bathe. again, the water was a crystal clear display of blue of hues. tashi swam around with her new mask and snorkel, pointing out a number of colorful fish, shells containing crabs and spiny sea urchins. cozy coves flank the bluffs. rocky outcroppings rise up from the sea.

yesterday we visited paphos for the second time. paphos has some awesome ancient ruins and mosaics against a backdrop of every cheesy tourist trap you can imagine. the other night a cypriot musical group performed a tribute to abba. the abba cult lives, even in cyprus. there are tons of shops selling cheap souviners made in china and india. one pub after another. pink pelicans. overpriced food. glass bottomed boats. crowds of tourists looking like cooked lobsters for lack of sunscreen.

i couldn't spend as much time as i would have liked to at the mosaics, as tashi was tired and hot. but a glimpse of the amazingly well preserved depictions of gods and goddesses was better than no glimpse at all. afterwards i took tashi to the paphos aquarium where we saw lots of fish, shrimp, eels, crabs, turtles, sting rays and a couple of alligators fresh from the mississippi. this was a nice compliment to the snake museum we visited the other day, where we saw about six native cypriot snakes, several lizards, spiders, a scorpion and some more turtles.

the other night there was a "pannayiri", a street fair that usually takes place in celebration of saint's day. it was very similar the "mela" i experienced in india. there were booths selling traditional foods, sweet honey balls called lukomathes, piles of pulses, nuts, candies, jujuko (long strings of walnuts encased in a sweet sugar taffy), air dried meats, sausages. some booths sold household items: beach towels with weird depictions of spider man, cinderella, sea creatures and race cars. kitchen ware. bedding. there were booths of pirated cd's and dvd's. and lots of booths selling very junky toys. there were carnival games where you could win caged birds, goldfish, three foot high victorian dolls. and more booths selling junky jewelery and hairbands. it was fascinating the way a carnival is.

so while emotionally i'm feeling a little fragile from the weirdness that is emitting from my mother and her sister, i'm having a great time with my daughter.

unfotunately another war has erupted in the country next door and i'm feeling pretty sick over that. having been completely ignorant of news for a few weeks now (aside from who was winning in the world cup games), the only physical impact that is felt here is that the airports are busier because flights to beruit have been diverted to cyprus.

so i'll end this with a wish for peace.

1 comment:

Otiscodisco said...

I once burst into tears as I parked the car with my sister-passenger saying, "Move up. No, park there."

Hang in there, Zoe. You're having the time of your life - as is Tashi. Just smile and nod. Smile and nod, while ignoring their directions.