Before leaving Turkey we decided to take a four day trip to Cyprus, knowing that it might be a while before we would be so close to the island again. Since flights from Istanbul only fly directly to Northern Cyprus, and are a far cheaper option than the journey to Larnaca, our choice on which part to visit was made simple.
I had been to Limassol and Nicosia in my childhood, and the only real memory I have of the trip was the clarity of the sea and the patterns on its submerged rocks, ever-changing shapes made by golden sunlight twisted by waves. I remember how some of my aunties and cousins fled to the island during the war in Lebanon, and lived there for a time.
Northern Cyprus was always a bit of a mystery. No one I knew ever spoke about it except to claim that it was run-down, dirty, and rough; that its inhabitants were as one person put it (to my disappointment and shock), "behind". I don't know why their perceptions were so negatively coloured, but I ignored them, eager to see for myself what it was really like.
I admit that I have read so little about the history of Cyprus, but I have gathered that as in much of the region's history, it was violent, bloody, and heartbreaking— divided land, divided people, exiles and refugees, homes taken. There was a lot I saw on this trip that unsettled me, but rather than focusing on the negative, I would like to express how beautiful Cyprus is, and how lovely the people on both sides are.
As it was summer, the grasses had dried a beautiful ochre, and the sea was a deep blue. The relentless drone of cicadas pulled the very thoughts from my mind, and the air smelled of earth and salt.