Looking at Old Stuff and a Pelican

Today, I visited the ruins of Kourion, Aphrodite’s Rock, the Tomb of the Kings, the Paphos Mosaics, and most notably, The Pelican.

The main aspect of Cyprus culture that I noticed today actually had nothing to do with any of the individual cultural sites themselves. Rather, I found that Cyprus as a whole is the embodiment of the expression, “Europeans think 100 miles is a long way, Americans think 100 years is a long time.” It only took around an hour to get halfway across the island, but along the way, our tour guide pointed out countless settlements dating back thousands of years and seemed relatively unfazed by their age. Each time the bus stopped, we walked past restaurants older than the United States.

Aphrodite’s Rock and the Paphos Mosaics showed the significance of mythology in both ancient and contemporary Cyprus culture, as the stories represented by the two sites are still told today (although they’re taken more as fiction than fact by many modern-day Cypriots). In particular, the fact that Cypriots still try to swim at the location of Aphrodite’s birth in exchange for blessings is a clear sign that this mythology hasn’t entirely been dismissed as fantasy.

Despite the relatively short history of the US, the attention given to historical remnants is comparable to Cyprus—cities like Gettysburg have transformed into elaborate tourist attractions complete with historical reenactments, old cemeteries housing famous figures are open to the public for sightseeing, and Plymouth Rock gets nearly as many visitors as Aphrodite’s. The desire to connect with past generations through what they’ve left behind seems fairly universal.

My favorite experience of the day was seeing the pelican at The Pelican. It was a little creepy, but seeing it run around the docks flapping its wings at people made up for all the times it ominously watched me eat.

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