We approached the green line and crossed into the Turkish North today, specifically the city of Famagusta. We previously learned that in the invasion of 1974, the Turks forced all of the Greek Cypriots into the southern region, leaving where they lived before the invasion vacant and torn apart with evidence of war and looting. Over the last 48 years, the Turkish Cypriots have not done anything to restore or replace what once was, and the areas have become ghost towns. We had the opportunity to walk through one of them, recently opened in an effort to redevelop the coastline city as a buzzing community for tourists as it used to be. Because they have made no effort to change anything, the ghost town was like a time capsule, or a painting of a moment in time that was allowed to age without intervention. While deeply fascinating, I found the town to be saddening; I continue to fail to understand why Turkey wanted the territory if they did not even care enough to upkeep or develop the most beautiful parts. Instead, they are left with the literal, visual representation of emptiness and a massive undertaking ahead of them if they wish to rival what the town used to be. Learning about the history of this place was, however, the highlight of our cultural visits for me. Our tour guide was a great story teller and made all of the Cyprian history interesting, but this bit of more modern history combined with the visual evidence spoke to me most. It also made me compare this piece of history to what is going on in Ukraine right now; I hope that they will not be left with ghost towns such as these when the war is over.
After the ghost town, we walked around a quaint town and found lunch at a small café before we left the Turkish side. This was where we saw the gothic style church that we learned was from the time of French occupation during the Crusades. We then spent a short time at Fig Tree Bay to swim at the beach. This is my favorite beach we have been to so far, and the most picturesque in my opinion as well. We also stopped to enter and take pictures of a sea cave. The water at the beach and at the caves was the beautiful Mediterranean blue-green I had been waiting for.
Tomorrow we will be wrapping up the last of our professional presentations of the trip! It feels like it has gone so fast!