Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Changes in Cyprus

There have been many changes in Cyprus since I was last there (30 years ago) and not all of them are for the better.

When we were at AyNic (one of the British Sovereign Bases) we used to go down to a lovely little fishing village called Ayai Napa at the weekends sometime.  There was a beautiful little monastery and a fishing cove with half a dozen restaurants selling wonderful meze meals - no choice, you just sat down and were served what they wanted to feed you and it was always delicious.  We had a hire car for a few days and went across there to have a look around and refresh our wonderful memories.  I almost cried, I did not even stop the car, just turned round and drove all the way back.  It is absolutely horrid, a mass of bright plastic hoardings - a bit like Blackpool but without the class.  The monastery is still there but it has been built all around and is now hemmed in by all the development.

Another thing which struck me was how expensive Cyprus has become.  I think I noticed it particularly since it is our third island holiday this year and much, much, more expensive than the others.   A simple one course meal for two of us with a glass of wine, a coke and a coffee cost around fifty euros and with practical parity that is about forty six pounds. 

Cyprus is a very beautiful island and there seem to be a lot of immigrants.  Lots of Russians who are obviously very well heeled since they drive incredibly expensive vehicles and wear loads of bling.  A Cypriot friend tipped me off about Sunday afternoons in Limassol Sculpture Park when the island's Sri Lankan community all meet up for a big picnic.  The Sunday I went down to have a look was also the day of the Cyprus Marathon so there were hordes of people there.  The Sri Lankans were pretty evident because of their dark skins and delicious smelling foods and there were a lot of them.  Over a thousand at a rough guess.  Apparently they get special seven year visas to come into the EU and work on the land in Cyprus.  They are not very well paid and send most of their earnings back to their families.  There were also a lot of Filipino faces around.  Another Cypriot friend has organised a Filipino maid/companion for her mother and even though it is not very well paid she received over a hundred applicants for the job - all Filipino.

When last in Cyprus houses never seemed to get finished being built.  I recall that until the roof was finished no local taxes were payable even if the property was being lived in.  These days the roofs are all finished and have large white tanks and solar panels on them.  Apparently 99% of the hot water in Cyprus is provided via solar means and the roof needs to be finished for the tank to be fitted.  It would appear that the cost of the taxes is offset by the "free" hot water.  There are also lots of satellite dishes which were never there in the early 80's.

There are a lot of "Supermarkets" in Cyprus.  Most of them are like little corner shops and sell an incredible variety of goods.  There may only be one or two of each item on the shelf but most needs can be met.  The shops will try and provide anything needed - you only have to ask.  That was something which had not changed a bit - the general willingness of people to anticipate every need and to cheerfully offer suggestions of alternatives when necessary.  The lovely sunny nature of most of the people I had dealings with was very evident.

1 comment:

  1. Whilst I know it's not advisable to live in the past, when it comes to much-loved destinations, which have a special place on our memories, it's a really horrid thing to go back and find that the very things you loved about it have long gone. I think it's far worse for places we visited, than where we live, as if we live somewhere, the changes are gradual and we don't notice them as much, we have time to accept them. Going back after a long absence, all the changes hit us in one go.

    For that reason, there are some places I travelled to that I refuse to revisit, knowing from reports that they have changed, I do not wish to stain my cherished memories with what is there now.

    Occasionally, I decide it's worth it, like taking Pete to Machu Picchu, having so loved visiting as a teenager many years ago. Whilst it's a different experience now, so very crowded, the magic of the place is still there and I was glad to revisit. It reinforced rather than overwrote my previous memories.