My favorite part is the magical moment when I first get off the airplane. As the rays of the scorching Cypriot sun surround me, I can feel its warmth piercing through my clothes and embracing me. My eyes immediately readjust to the abundant sunlight. The sky, the sea, the bougainvilleas at the entrance of the airport look brighter and more intense.
As I make my way through the airport, and towards the exit, I find it easy to make out all the Cypriots from the rest of the tourists. There’s certainly something distinctive in my fellow countrymen, something in the way they look, they dress they walk and talk. As I walk forward, I pick up these clues automatically, there is no effort involved in this process.
Then, I meet my parents. They always wait for me at the entrance of the airport. Their first comment usually has to do with my appearance. If I lost weight during my stay abroad, they’ll call me skinny and underfed but if I’m overweight, in their eyes I’m normal. As you can see from this video, the ideal weight for many Cypriots has little to do with mainstream ideals. It’s a given that every time I leave Cyprus I’m 2-3 kilos heavier. Cypriot cuisine is a combination of Middle Eastern and European flavors with an emphasis on barbecue meats and vegetable stews.
One thing I definitely love about my country is that the island is literally drenched in history and culture. A most prominent example lies only 5 minutes away from my house by car: The temple of Aphrodite, once a place where Greeks and Romans could commonly worship their goddess of fertility, remains in absolute ruin. Next to it, built entirely with stones from the temple, a Venetian fortress and the ruins of a Catholic church overlook the distant sea from a strategic height.As orthodox Christianity was banned in Cyprus during Venetian rule, the locals conceived the idea of building an orthodox church inside the Catholic one, and this church still stands today. The small houses near the area were built with stones of the temple during the Ottoman period to house Turkish soldiers and local farmers. The Venetian fortress now serves as a museum.
When you visit Cyprus you visit an island that is unique in many ways. Share your stories and experiences in the comment section below.