Day 4 in Cyprus; 4/12/22

Today, instead of the coast, we visited the Troodos mountains. I had only ever seen the mountains in passing, so I was excited to venture into the peaks and explore the little villages hidden within them. The bus ride was spectacular. Everyone needed a solid one-hour nap, but I, fortunately, woke up in time to admire the stunning views afforded by our altitude. Each switchback revealed a new swath of Cypriot territory, replete with green vineyards and red-roofed houses. 

After about an hour, we arrived at Troodos square, an overlook in the mountains with cafes and souvenir shops. The cool, almost chilly air was a welcome change from the hot streets of Nicosia. About half of us ended up descending a rocky hill to get a better view of the mountains and valleys in the distance. There is something uniquely Greek and Mediterranean about the landscape and its characteristic mix of shrubbery and dirt. We took some photos of the rugged terrain and then trekked back up to the souvenir shops, where I bought my first trinket: a black and bronze Spartan helmet. I am rather picky with souvenirs, but this one caught my eye.

From Troodos square, we took a short bus ride to Omodos village. This town was perhaps the first I have visited in Cyprus with any uniformity in its architecture: all of the houses had red terracotta roofs. The winding streets offered sweeping videos of the surrounding mountains. We wandered into the Timios Stavros Monastery, jewelry shops, and cafes before sitting down at the Stou Kir Yianni Tavern for lunch. Our meal consisting of sesame-covered halloumi, chicken kabobs, Greek salad, and crunchy pork was easily my favorite so far. The chicken was especially divine, falling right off the stick.

In a intense food coma, I slept the entire way to Limassol after leaving Omodos. We were headed for a meeting with government officials in the Cyprus Port Authority. For about an hour, we heard from four men involved in high-level positions of the CPA, which is an autonomous regulatory body that supervises the ports of Cyprus. I found the speakers to be quite compelling and shrewd in their assessment of current geopolitics and their vision for the future of Cyprus shipping. They emphasized sustainability in their presentation, an interest of mine, so I asked a question about how the growing emphasis on green energy is affecting their offshore drilling services. One of the speakers gave an answer that resonated: while reducing non-renewable energy is a crucial long-term goal, we must balance that worthy ideal against present needs—namely, energy security and independence. He mentioned that the EU’s position on fossil fuel use changed markedly after Russia invaded Ukraine. The regulators realized (at least somewhat) that their virtuous and self-important sustainability codes neglected contemporary geopolitical realities. Ceding energy control to bad actors does not reverse climate change issues—it exacerbates them.

The presentation also included notes on data security and blockchain, so I was obligated to inquire as to the obstacles the CPA faces in implementing a decentralized data system. They responded that the process of digitalizing and uploading data that is currently tracked on paper represents their greatest challenge. I was, nonetheless, encouraged to here that the CPA is very much aware of blockchain and interested in utilizing it. I am excited to continue asking officials about blockchain to assess the progress of global supply chains toward blockchain-based decentralization.

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