Day 170: Thanksgiving in Cyprus

Cyprus is the forlorn lovechild between Greece and Turkey.

In 1974, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus as a deterrent to a coup supported by the Greeks and the island has since been effectively partitioned off into two separate territories with each country having a claim to the land either north or south of the jagged ‘Green Line’ running horizontally across its length from shore to shore. It’s attracted a fair share of Russian weekenders and British retirees so you’ll see plenty of ‘русский язык‘, mixed in with the local ‘Ελληνικά‘ at the local pub. Coming to Cyprus in November was like visiting a ski resort in the summer, it was a ghost town with many businesses closed until spring.

In addition to making sense of the signage, driving was a big challenge. The last time I drove a car legally on the left side of the road was as a foreign exchange student in Australia which was over 20 years and 100,000 hair follicles ago. Furthermore, since the driver’s seat was on the right side of the car, I had a manual transmission which I had to shift with my left hand which was awkward beyond belief.

Autumn caught up to us as well. As our friends back in Korea have been posting scarlet hued pictures of leaves as far back as October, we’ve managed to escape the chill by traveling through north Africa and the Middle east which have kept us in shorts, t-shirts and sweat every step of the way. After leaving Egypt to fly 400 miles north, we had officially left the desert for lowland scrub and found that mornings were actually chilly and we had to dig into the farthest reaches of our bags for jackets and scarfs before stepping out the door every morning. As winter was around the corner, we have been looking for thrift stores in Jordan and Israel to buy used winter clothes to keep us warm in the Christmas markets of Germany and cruising through icebergs in Antarctica which we’d see in late December and early January.

Paphos to Limmasol

Paphos was a 90 minute drive from Larnaca airport and a nice place to chill out for a few days. After so much traveling and staying with friends for the last month, it was so nice to just ‘sit’ and do very little other than binge watch our favorite movies, read books, cook and plan. The first day in Paphos we stocked up on supplies and spent most of our time hobnobbing around the neighborhood exploring and enjoying the fact that we were back in Europe which meant well stocked supermarkets and good local food. I befriended an old Greek woman who ran a local supermarket who gave me daily oranges and pecans from her village to take back to Lisa and Ava as snacks. A nearby, competing shop owner bewailed me every time I did this and wondered why I didn’t come into his shop more often. In Greece, rivalries between families and business can transcend generations like the ‘Hatfields and the McCoys‘.

Sobering reminders of violence and local division.

Having an Airbnb with a good wifi connection was immensely productive. Since we now had the start date of our next school where we’d be starting in June, we could start to work on logistics of the spring. Up till last week, we had our trip planned up till mid January, with only some rough ideas for what to do afterwards. In Paphos, Lisa spent 2 full days booking open-jaw airline tickets through Argentina and Brazil, and reserving accommodation from Argentina through Uruguay to Brazil through which gave us an itinerary through early March. Those purchases along with visas for Jordan and a trip to the local dentist for our 6 month cleaning, broke our budget of $1,000 per week, so we spent most of our time in Cyprus not going to restaurants and cooking in our apartments (with the exception of Thanksgiving) to make up for the additional costs and get our budget back on track.

A Real Thanksgiving for Travelers

For American Thanksgiving, we found a nearby shop that had beautiful roasted chickens and we made stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and baked two pies the day before to round out our meal of giving thanks for the things in our lives. We spent the afternoon going around the table and giving thanks for the people, family and little things in our lives that had made our little trip so wonderful:

  • A good clothes washer and effective spin cycle.
  • Comfortable couches.
  • A large drying rack on which to hang your clothes.
  • Smart TVs that are Chromecast compatible.
  • Supermarkets within walking distance.
  • A coffee machine and fresh Lavazza every morning.

Contrary to what most children learn in school, the origins of American thanksgiving are quite distorted from its portrayal in picture books. It was first a commemoration of massacre of the Pequot people in 1637, and then a reminder not of religious expression, but entrepreneurial pursuits of the Pilgrims and finally a celebration of civil war victories under Lincoln. Over the years, it has been whitewashed into a ‘feast to bring locals and visitors together’ despite Wampanoag natives may not even having been invited to the original table. In short, it’s a holiday that celebrates a history that people ‘wished’ to have happened much like the reasons that Columbus day is so unabashedly celebrated in classrooms around the country while turning a blind eye to his barbarism. Proof that history is written by those in charge.

Limmasol to Ayia Napa

Our apartment in Ayia Napa overlooked the ocean and had one of the best kitchens we’ve had on our trip. I cooked french toast for breakfast most mornings and in the evening we had ravioli with white wine garlic sauce, mexican style burritos, pizzas, and fish tacos for dinner. While at the local ‘Metro’ supermarket, I spied English sausages and made biscuits and gravy the last morning which is one of my weekend specialties back when we had our own apartment in South Korea. Between meals, Lisa tentatively reserved a 20 day itinerary for Peru and Machu Pichu and I found a good price for one way tickets from Cuzco Peru, to Cartagena, Colombia for $630 for all three of us with an overnight layover in Lima. I booked our final flights from Bogota to the Aruba and a series of puddle jumper flights that would take us from there to the islands of Bonaire and Curacao for scuba diving before flying back to Los Angeles in early May. With the rest of our flights booked the end of our trip had taken shape and, we realized that we were over the halfway point of our trip. Where does the time go?

A Persuasive Essay Turns Infographic

As Ava worked on her second writing piece of the year: ‘Why we need to save the Rhinos’, inspired by our time in Kenya, we thought that it would best be supported by images and statistics not ideally displayed by traditional word documents. For this, we settled on an infographic which we used ‘piktochart’ to make which has more allure as a poster or printable flyer.

Related Posts

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Day 102: Kenya-Roads Less Travelled

Day 84: Tanzania Part 2- Zanzibar

Day 22: Teaching Tolerance in Riga, Latvia

3 thoughts on “Day 170: Thanksgiving in Cyprus

  1. I know you will think I am crazy, BUT it truly warms your old mother’s heart that you got your six-month teeth cleaning while traveling! GOOD JOB!

    Sent from my iPad



  2. I studied abroad in Greece & Turkey in college and heard TONS from locals in both countries about the historical invasions and wrong-doings by the other… I imagine Cypriots had a lot to say on the matter.


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