We've had a bit of a cultural week as my cousin Sue has been to stay and she likes to ramble around ruins and mosey around museums. We've explored catacombs, churches and caves hewn out of rocks by ancients two and three thousand years ago, we've been fascinated by frescos and marveled at monasteries, particularly one founded by Agios Neofytos, a scholar/writer/hermitwho lived in one of the said caves
Fair play to Dave, he makes a huge effort to get into the swing of things and, of late, has been taking quite an interest in cultures and histories of days gone by. Attached to the monastery of Agios Neofytos is a museum and, whilst we were having a look around, Dave became rather animated at the sight of an old map of Cyprus, on the wall, dated 1500 and something. Anyway, he pointed towards the map [I think he had see the original site of where his favourite pub is now built or something to that effect] and, as he did so, his arm brushed a huge jar which began to wobble and turn on its axis; he managed to catch it in time, and steadied it by encircling it in his arms. Whilst all this was going on I had been reading the information plaque which informed me that, the jar was two and a half thousand years old and had survived being buried in a tomb, land-slides, earthquakes, ransacks, looting, wars and raids by Arabs, Christians, Turks and all sorts and; to think now, it has survived Dave waving his arms about. That is one, truly remarkable jar.
We visited the Archaeological museum in Pollis, passing an 800 year old olive tree on the way. [I have a fascination with olive trees for some obscure reason.] Pollis is an old town of stone buildings with ornate doorways and arches, I love the atmosphere here. The town is built on the sites of the ruins of the Cities of Marion and Arsinoe [7th century B.C] and the museum houses artefacts from some of the thousands of tombs from these ancient cities. We particularly marveled at how jewellery hasn't really changed very much in thousands of years, you could still imagine these gold and silver pieces with their fine details and stone settings being sold in shops and on market stalls in this modern age.
We visited an old church where Sue made the mistake of saying 'Eftharisto' [Thank you] to the old lady dressed from head to toe in black who was guarding the door. This gave the old crone the impression we were all fluent in Cypriot and she followed us around gabbling away; pointing and gesticulating, laughing and grimacing as she went. She simply didn't believe us when we pleaded over and over that we didn't understand, this simply goaded her to speak louder and faster. But, fair play, Dave did manage to make himself understood when she tried to push him up a rickety old ladder into the bell tower. We made a donation, lit a candle, muttered a prayer and made our way back out into the sunlight convinced she had cast a spell on us.
Yesterday, Sue, Vron and I we went into Kato Paphos to look at catacombs, the coliseums and the terebinth tree, the latter of which is festooned with hankies and, sadly, some babies bibs. This is a custom which is common throughout the Middle East and is used in prayers particularly for improved health, or so I've been told.
I screamed and reeled with shock when a bird flew out of a cave as I climbed in. I'm not sure whether it or I had the most terror in our eyes as it flew straight at me. It seemed as though it had a three foot wing span at the time, and eyes as big as plates but, in fact, as it flew away it rapidly became a mere dot in the sky so I think it must have been a pigeon.
Sue, much braver than I, descended some very dark forbidding steps deep down into the catacombs. [I stood at the top reading aloud from the guide book]. She went so far down into the desolate depths that I could barely make out the outline of her in her bright outfit and dainty white shoes. I was still reading aloud when I heard a faint scream echoing from the hollows. 'Sue?' I called nervously, 'I've stepped in a big pool of water;' came the meek reply. Though sympathetic, I wasn't unduly concerned by this revelation so I continued to read the book. The very next line read:
'A sacred well, with water so clear that you'll step into it unintentionally.....'
If only I had read just a little bit faster, Sue wouldn't have had to spend the rest of the day with sacred but cold, wet feet and her dainty white shoes would still be dainty and white. [We would have missed out on a laugh though.]
We recovered from our 'Tomb Raider' adventure in the most civilised of manners by having a drink on the harbour, in the sunshine, followed by a shuffle around the gift shops, all selling the same old tack as last year but with a few extra cents added onto the price. We all three of us resisted the urge to buy yet another hand bag from our favourite shop and headed back to Blue Eyes for 'happy hour ' followed by a couple of even happier hours watching Man U beat somebody or other. The men had already been to Paphos stadium to see Cyprus beat Bosnia at the rugby earlier so, a happy and contented day had been spent by all [Even though we girlies have still got those half price hand bags at the back of our minds, [Vron's was very pretty with beads and fluff on it, Sue's had a touch of class, colourful with lots of zips and a special compartment for her mobile phone and mine was plain, grey, canvas and backpacky, what does that say about our characters? I wonder if they are open on Sundays?]