Today, we crossed the border to North Cyprus where there is currently a Turkish occupation. The first stop was the old city of Famagusta. It was like walking into a time capsule from 50 years ago because it was like a real ghost town. The buildings were stuck in the old age, you could see the destruction of the houses and buildings from so long ago. The entire place had basically been sitting there to rot for so long and nobody was even allowed inside until recently. The tour guide was pointing out the various places she remembers from her childhood in the city before it was bombed. I thought it was really sad that she had to come back and witness the destruction that had happened to her home. She told us this one story of this boy who went looking for his parents in their hotel and there was a bomb that was dropped and the ceiling collapsed. There is a picture of the boy hanging of the boat that was on top of the building and dangling from it. There were more than 200,00 people displaced from the city and essentially they all became refugees. People who went back the next day are still on the missing persons list because they never even came back once the occupation had started. It was surreal to be in that space with such an intense past.
After that visit, we walked around the town of Famagusta. We went to Othello’s castle and the view from the top was simply breathtaking. The water was so blue and there were many ships. It was cool because I could see the ships being loaded and unloaded which tied back into our supply chain lessons. After that we walked around to the Cathedral ruins and learned about the history during the Ottoman period and how it is now used as a mosque today. We asked the tour guide how the Turkish Cypriots feel about the Turkish occupation and she said that a lot of them are not on board with it and actually are true Cypriots at heart. She told us about how some people have secret identities and speak Greek at home even though they are believed to be Turkish Muslim citizens in the occupied section.
Finally, our last stop of the night was Fig Tree bay. The water was amazing and I went for a nice long swim. As always, I was sad to leave the beach. There, we also saw the sea caves. They were very pretty but not exactly what I was expecting. Upon returning to Nicosia, Andreas gave us a nice little tour of the old city and showed us some good food spots. After, we went to a nice little café and I was able to meet some Cypriots and get to know them.