I go to see Aphrodite
The wind is blowing my hair in a thousand different directions and it has that slight bite to it as if winter is not yet ready to cede to spring. But spring is winning, I know this because the sun is warm, I’m wearing a T-shirt , I can hear birds chirping and I saw the hillsides covered in yellow flowers on my way down to this harbour in Paphos.
I’m sitting enjoying the warmth. I order a Cypriot coffee which, like it’s Greek and Turkish compatriots is strong and syrupy. I know from previous experience to beware the grounds that sit waiting at the bottom of the cup. I remember a friend’s story about drinking Greek coffee for the first time and finding her mouth full of coffee grounds. I laugh and send her a text telling her what I’m doing.
I sip my coffee, cleanse my palette with the accompanying water and admire the view. In front of my are all manner of pleasure craft. To my right a 16th century Ottoman fort and to my left waves breaking over rocks in front of resort hotels. The languages around me are varied but mostly Greek and British English. I listen in to a Dutch conversation for awhile but give up as it turns into a domestic blue.
I look around me at my companions in the harbour on this beautiful day. I find myself surrounded by many octogenarians and septuagenarians … many of them Brits who seem to live here. I here the occasional whinge as someone tries to convert pounds to Euros and discussions of which Church or castle to visit next. I hear banal chatter about Big Brother and I hear chatter about economic crises.
I return to my book – some throwaway Grisham thriller only to be dissuaded from it by the glorious sun. I sit there awhile and am then drawn by the chance of exploring those Roman villas that sit just behind me. My last day in Paphos is proving a delight.
From Paphos I drive back along the south coast towards my base in Larnaca. The coastline is rugged, cliff like rocky outcrops, meandering fields of yellow flowers lowly lowering themselves into the Mediterranean, stony pebble filled beaches and little fishing harbours. I decide, because it’s on the way, to stop off and visit Aphrodite that Greek goddess of love and speak to her on matters of the heart. I park the car, crawl through a tunnel carved under the road and make my way onto the beach of stony rounded pebbles. Jutting out into the ocean lie two rocky outcrops and crashing against them with a fearsome and icy cold spray is the waters from which Aphrodite sprang. I stay awhile bracing myself against the biting wind and cold surf spray. I think of loves lost and those yet to come. On the beach a young couple determined to live the moment spread a blanket on the rocks and proceed to picnic on the beach that Aphrodite strode ashore on. A dishevelled and unshaven middle aged man holds tight the hand of a young boy. The young boy doesn’t complain as he watches his father look wistfully out to sea. This little beach is full of memories, so full of emotions that it rivals the cold surf spray for ferocity. I stay awhile making up stories in my mind for the handful of people who wander along the beach before finally turning back.