On the road again in Cyprus, so what did we do with Archnetwork today ?
Saturday 19th September 2015. After such a full day in the capital, we stayed local and visited the neighbouring village of Kato Drys. Firstly, we went to the top of Sotira hill, behind Lefkara to get panoramic view across the Larnaca District and surrounding landscape and visited the tiny church perched there. It had some charming icons dating from the early C20th.
Next stop was by an ancient oak and some knarly, old olive trees. We heard from Martin some local folklore about village rivalry & how the village took its name from the many “Dryes” (oaks) that grew in the area. Martin also informed us about community efforts to sew acorns & regenerate some of these magnificent trees.
We had the pleasure of visiting house of Elli Papachristoforou, who generously let us sample some of her honey which was rather special. She then gave us a guided tour of both the (Embroidery) Museum of Folk Art and the (Bee) Agricultural Museum of Kato Drys. Both were captivating and provided further context for everything we had learned over the previous days in respect of Cypriot culture, nature, social & economic growth. The homestead of Reo Stakis was pointed out to us, the famous son of the village who built the Stakis Hotels empire.
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Sunday 20th September 2015. In the capable hands of our host for the day, Adriana Patkova, we wove our way through the twisty mountain roads of Cyprus, spotting beehives, bikers, wind turbines, reservoirs, solar farms, eucalyptus trees, terraces & an asbestos mine.
I took issue with the interpretation on site, there was the distinct lack of information about the hazards of asbestos & the effects on the nearby mining villages as clearly studied in here. Report on the Health Effects of the Asbestos Mines on the … Some advice for visitors poking around in the rocks would not go amiss. Contaminated land from historical mining in Cyprus is an issue. The Amiantos Asbestos Mine in the Troodos National Park, where we stopped is undergoing restoration. The biodiversity conservation, restoration and management project concludes at the end of December 2015.
Moving on. We arrived at picturesque Agros where we visited a smokery, had a peek into the smoking room at Kafkalia and sampled their products; posirti, lountza, loukanika, hiromeri, zalatina, tsamarelle and pastourmas. After lunch we continued to climb to the top, reaching Troodos Square we couldn’t help but notice the familiar environment, it looked like Scotland! There was a thistle to prove it. The British military presence was again, all around. We went to the rather dated visitor centre and proceeded to Pano Platres where we saw a peculiar post box. Finally we had a long drive, down to the coast and back to Lefkara with a pit stop in Zygi.
Silversmithing & Stansted
Monday 21st September, our final day. We made an early morning visit to the silversmiths in Lefkara and learned about their processes, which are mostly mechanised but involved all sorts of materials, rubber, wax, plaster and of course silver. The workshops were very interesting but we could not linger. Adriana had to get us to the airport for our incredible journey home to Glasgow, via Stansted. I’m glad to say on our way to Paphos she took us to see Aphrodite’s Rock, the ideal way to say goodbye & ευχαριστώ
The experiences of this week were fascinating. From knowing very little about Cyprus I now feel after this cultural exchange that I have gained a decent understanding of Cypriot life, both contemporary and traditional.
Everybody we encountered was genuinely friendly & extremely welcoming. I found more personal parallels with the socio-political divide in the country than I expected. The cuisine was fabulous, the crafts exquisite, the landscape so dry and different & the company… well, we had a lot of fun too.