Looming Departure

No pictures from March 12, 2012. I think I spent most of the day writing my 43 postcards at a cafe. Compared to the five weeks I spent in Israel/Palestine, my short stint in Cyprus flew by, and for the most part, was much easier, emotionally lighter, and generally a bit weirder. With just a day and a half to go on the island at this time last year, my looming departure seemed rushed. It would have been nice to squeeze in an extra week in Cyprus (and spend part of it on the Karpaz Peninsula).

Field Trip

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On this day in 2012, I took a field trip to North Cyprus with 3 charming ladies, each old enough to be my mother or grandmother. Our first stop was the Ruins of Salamis where I was transfixed by this parallel group of Muslim women. It was very windy and their skirts and headscarves were billowing just enough to make an interesting photo. I followed them for a ways as one of them approached the walls with a handful of wildflowers. Why had they come to leave offerings at the ancient walls?

Occupy, A Hot Mess

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Last year at this time, I spent my evening at the Occupy Buffer Zone camp in Nicosia. I left incredibly frustrated at the activists’ anti-authoritarian ideology which was so obviously allowing one faction (who were primarily interested in squatting and smoking with no clear political agenda) to prevent anything from getting done. Community consensus and careful discussion of everyone’s feelings is a nice idea until it doesn’t get you anywhere. To me, there was such an apparent opportunity for a leader to help the movement-my observation of this resulted in the quick dismissal of my ‘American’ perspective. It was a good idea, but they could have done so much more, starting with the recognition that leadership is never a dirty word in successful political movements.

Outdoor Decor

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A front porch scene from a meditative morning walk in Athienou – a pretty ordinary town that happens to be smack in the middle of the Buffer Zone.

Working ‘On the Road’

I have no photos from March 8, 2012 and am not sure why this is. I was back in Nicosia and my guess is that I spent the day post-processing everything from my 4-day excursion to the north, as I didn’t bring my computer or have internet access on the side trip. The organizational aspect of Walking Walls was challenging because I often had to balance ‘office’ work (emails, planning, post-processing, writing) with absorbing and collecting all of the content and experiences possible within my jam-packed, low-budget itinerary. I found that making time for the office work was necessary to make me feel productive and balanced, even if it was sometimes hard to give myself permission to do so.

Boots

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Walking Walls was the swan song for this pair of boots. I got them in 2007 in Minnesota and left them in Vienna exactly 5 years later. On March 7, 2012, they got a break as I caught a bus back to Nicosia from Lefke, returning to the Republic of Cyprus after 4 long, strange days in the north.

Future Wilderness

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If the Buffer Zone is ever demilitarized, swept for mines, and opened to all (which I am predicting, without much supporting evidence, will happen in my lifetime), it’s going to be an awesome piece of wilderness to explore-hopefully one that is supported by some ecological,  environmental, and commemorative initiatives like the European Green Belt project. There is, in fact, a silver lining that comes with sealing off a chunk of land to humans for a generation or two.

This picture was taken very near the BZ from the Turkish occupied north.

Notes from a Bus in North Cyprus

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When I got on the bus from Morphou/Güzelyurt to Lefke on this day last year, I noticed that the dials on the dash were all marked with Chinese characters. Wild. Here are a few short sketches from the cramped ride:

Before we left, the driver hauled two spare tires into the front seat, buoying the confidence of all my fellow passengers.

We also got a new driver for the outward journey-a young, slick looking guy with sunglasses and extremely short, spiky hair which emerged only from the highest altitudes of his head.

We stopped on a dusty road to pick up an old man carrying bags full of milk, bread and newspapers. 50 meters later, we stopped again for a guy with mullet and his three kids, all of whom were forced to sit on the floor. They got off at the next stop. The man’s windbreaker puffed up in the breeze and I forgot entirely what decade I was living in. He herded his daughter with a gentle hand on her knee-high shoulder as his son lagged behind to examine a piece of garbage. He was squatting down to grab it when the bus groaned and rolled away.

 

Fortune

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March 4, 2012

“It’s meaningless, but…sometimes we need something to survive” – my new Turkish friend, Feyza on reading fortunes in coffee grounds. It was all the more powerful because she is still learning English and I found her word choice really poignant and powerful.

Apathy

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At this time last year, I was couchsurfing with a university student in Morphou/Güzelyurt, North Cyprus. Her tiny flat was in a student village right next to campus directly above a bar called Beer Time. She and all of her friends were from Turkey. When I asked their opinion on the Cyprus problem, one of them told me point blank, “we are the invaders” between long drags on a cigarette. But it was hard to imagine that my new friends possessed any sort of malicious intent toward the island of Cyprus; their attitude was more like an apathetic shrug. They were similarly unfazed by the parallel strips of light illuminating the Buffer Zone to the south as we walked down a winding hill to another student watering hole.