GROWING UP IN CYPRUS

images (13)From the age of four, when my family bought a holiday home in the glorious mountain village of Arsos, the people of Cyprus have never ceased to amaze me. Back then, it was still a nation finding its feet – and yet, even as strangers, we were welcomed with open arms.

My sister and I ran free with our newfound friends, playing in the breezy schoolyard on the crest of the hill, exploring the mysterious undergrowth in the forested valley and picnicking under the olive trees that dotted the hillside. We became part of the village, part of an extended family that would always feed us, water us and keep an eye on us. Never a day went by when we weren’t invited for a meal with neighbours, who quickly became firm friends.  Every hour would bring a new offering left on our street-facing windowsill: succulent grapes in September, feather light flaounas at Easter, luscious halloumi from Paraskevi down the lane.

Nowadays, people abroad see Cyprus on the news and shake their heads in concern. But it’s not like that at all. Twentysummer-361112_640 years later, that warmth of community spirit still lives on in every heart, and I’m still secure in the knowledge that wherever I go and whatever I do, there’s always someone looking out for me. Even in the city I find handfuls of fresh lemons, jars of olives and freshly baked kolouri on my doorstep every day…

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