Not Forgetting my Passport

Today’s trip was unique and, at first, uncomfortable. I’ve never been in a military-occupied zone before, let alone one that required me to keep a death grip on my passport at all times. However, after the initial discomfort subsided, the novelty of the experience made it my favorite of the cultural visits. 

Starting in the Varosi area set the tone well for the rest of the day. It contained many of the core aspects of my Cyprus experience. The densely packed hotels and long strip of buildings along the beach, despite having lost their functionality, were reminders of independent Cyprus’s historical reliance on tourism as a major industry. The natural beauty of the beaches was a familiar sight, featuring the same clear blue water as Paphos. It was only when a flock of birds flew by that I realized how quiet the area was. It was an unsettling reminder that this once-prosperous city had been stripped of its liveliness and cultural momentum in a conflict that has yet to be resolved. While the US has its fair share of beautiful beaches and tourist attractions, the similarities end with that last aspect of Cyprus culture.

After leaving the Varosi area, we continued through Famagusta to the Old City. This captured yet another aspect of Cyprus culture: its incredibly long and detailed history. Famagusta has been an established port for ten times longer than the US has existed. Small stores crowded the narrow cobblestone streets, a reminder of Cyprus’s heavily product-oriented economy. Many of them spilled out into the streets with racks of t-shirts and refrigerator magnets, designed to catch the eye of each tourist walking by in need of a souvenir. The US may have its fair share of tourist attractions, but it’s nothing compared to the nigh-ubiquitous tourism present in Cyprus. 

The rest of the day was devoted to the seaside and a brief excursion to the Sea Caves, both perfect examples of the natural beauty along Cyprus’s coast and the immense attention it garners from tourists, traits reminiscent of California and Florida.

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