CAROLE JOHNSTONE

British Fantasy Award Winner 2014; 3x British Fantasy Award Nominee

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Eat, Pray, Love




So, after six very short months, we’ve said adio to Cyprus. I’ll always love it, always miss it, but it was time. The place was beginning to come alive again: Paphos was opening up, its streets and promenades were thronged with tourists. It felt a little like we were losing the Cyprus that we’d grown to love. Plus, it was getting HOT. And for two peely-wally Scots who complain about Essex summers, you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

But I’ll miss it so much. I’ll miss getting up every morning and swimming in freezing cold water, looking up into the mountains and pale blue, cloudless sky. The goats with their low chiming bells and loud, grumpy Cypriot herders. The mad birds who were our only noisy neighbours. I’ll miss the scary roads (many of which officially shared the name), the olive groves and orange trees and rocky terraces. Watching the beautiful countryside turn from the burnt gold of drought to lush shades of green and then — in our last months — back again. I’ll even miss the constant cheerful shouting and bonkers driving. Fireworks and colourful clouds thrown even more cheerfully off balconies and out of moving cars. The thunderstorms that used to lash and shake our villa and plunge us into frequent darkness. The winds that would howl down from the mountains and beat through the valleys for days. The best worst dance music in the world, guaranteed to make you feel better. Cats as big as dogs and mice the size of hedgehogs. Less said about the beasties the better. Only one word: tarantula. Yeah, ok, I won’t miss them.

Surrounded by such lovely, smiling, and welcoming people; so much peace and so many beautiful villas and pools and long sandy beaches, it was very easy to forget where Cyprus is. Syria is only a few hundred miles away; we’d frequently see the British jets heading east. Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq. And, of course, Turkey. In February, the Israelis launched a two-day training exercise, complete with ear-splitting F-16s over Peyia and Paphos, and the place erupted into immediate panic as locals thought this meant that they were at war with Turkey again. Their very real fear and uncertainty isn't something I've ever had to suffer, and even though they're arguably safer than many of their neighbours, it was still a pretty sobering thing to witness. Privilege isn't a right, it isn't something you earn or deserve, it's just the luck of the draw, but allowing yourself to forget just how lucky that makes you is as unforgivable as it is easy. I'm as guilty of that as anyone else, but living here has given me a new perspective, a well-deserved kick up the arse. Not because it was ever hard for me to be here, but because of the wonderful people I met and will never forget.

This has also been, I think, the Eat phase of our year’s journey: we’re both FAT. (Don't eat something called Dancing Potatoes. You’ll never be the same again. Well, your waistline won’t.) 

I loved it here. it’s one of the best places I’ve ever known. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier -- or luckier -- than I am right now, (and I'm pretty sure that's not all down to being here and not AT WORK). I hope — and am pretty sure — that we'll be taking that happiness away with me, wherever we go. (As well as the few dozen extra pounds...)

Where we’re going right now is the Outer Hebrides. And if we’re also moving onto Pray, then I’m guessing it’s going to have something to do with the weather.





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