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OXI DAY: 28 October

Infographic and information compiled by NAHYSOSA Editor, Eugenia Papathanasiou. 

Discovering Cyprus. Discovering Me.

Article written by Annie Kolatsis who attended the NCCT program in August 2017. NCCT stands for NEPOMAK Cyprus Culture Tour and is run by NEPOMAK. 

When I sat down and thought about what to write about NCCT, nothing seemed good enough. How could I properly put into words what this tour had done for me? How it had changed me? While those 10 days were spent discovering Cyprus, a huge part of the trip was also about discovering myself.

Here is what I managed to figure out along the way.

Being Cypriot goes beyond knowing how to speak the language.
It also goes beyond knowing how to order a frappe, doing a zembekiko or being able to do the head tilt “tsou” as a way of saying “no”. That being said, I’ve always felt inadequate around my Cypriot family, and Cypriots in general, not being able to speak the language. This trip was the first time I didn’t feel that way. The reason? With everything I was learning and experiencing, I didn’t feel like a tourist anymore. The activities, the guided tours; they gave me what I had been missing all these years. The story. And not just from 1964 onwards. The WHOLE story – or as much as you can hear in 10 days. Knowing more about the island other than which beach to visit, or where to get the best sheftalies, made such a
difference.

There is more to Cyprus than just beautiful beaches and souvlaki.
While I knew that Cyprus was full of olive trees, I had no idea that some were as old as 700 years. Seven. Hundred. Years. It really put into perspective how little I knew about Cyprus and how much history was waiting to be discovered.

Photo: Jovanna Faria

If you’ve never been to Akamas National Park, then you’re in for a treat. There’s a beautiful walk to a gorge that took thousands of years to form. Lara Bay is also nearby and guess what? It’s a sea turtle conservation station. Next thing I knew, I was watching sea turtle eggs hatch! What an incredible experience and an unexpected one at that.

Photo: Annie Kolatsis (Author)

Once you start discovering the history, you can’t stop.
The fact that Cyprus is known as the birthplace of Aphrodite creates an almost mystical air. Visiting places like Petra tou Romiou, the Baths of Aphrodite and the Paphos mosaics made me realize just how impressive the island’s history is. Seeing ancient mosaics that date back to second century A.D. fueled my imagination and awakened a thirst in me to know more. Thankfully, there is plenty more history for me to sink my teeth into.

Photo: Marina Kotonous

 

Photo: Andreas Georghiou

We are all Cypriots.
I think the most important thing I figured out is that, whether we come from South Africa, America or the U.K., whether we are half Cypriot or full, there is more that makes us similar than what makes us different. Sure, we have nuances that are influenced by where we grew up (like calling sheftalies ‘shefties’), but one thing remains the same:

We are passionate.
We are proud.
We are Cypriot.

Photo: Panayiota Zambas

If you’d like to find out more about NEPOMAK or NCCT head to: http://nepomak.com/ncct/