Day 9: Northern Cyprus

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Today, we visited Famagusta, a city in the northern part of the island. Because of the Turkish invasion of Cyrus in 1974, the island has been split in two, the southern Greek half and the northern Turkish half. They are both simultaneously autonomous; however, the only country that recognizes the Turkish half’s sovereignty is Turkey.

Visiting the northern half, we needed to cross a border checkpoint. Because we were in one large group on the bus, the tour guide collected all of our passports, let the guards check them, and then we were allowed to cross. Almost immediately, there was a shift in scenery. There were a handful of military outposts currently operating, demarcated by pictographs of a soldier on signs, in addition to ghost villages and outposts. It clearly was the scars of war that was not cleared. Most roads in these locations were closed off. The cultural visit we were doing, however, was one of these similarly abandoned areas.

We visited the Varosi area, a part of the greater Famagusta. It had the visuals of a bustling British city, due to the occupation of Britain up until 1960, but it was completely abandoned for half a century. The buildings were falling apart, and the wilderness was attempting to take it over. One particular view was of a coastline, with half-collapsed, abandoned buildings towering over the coast. Another was a now-defunct UN office, with a flag untouched on the front.

Overall, I thought this visit was beautiful and impactful. It truly reinforces how awful for everyone war is. That city is a husk of its once bustling self, which means that a plethora of people were displaced.

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