Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 64 - Let's talk about culture...and the heat in Cyprus


Nem var… said my cleaning woman today, cok nem var…and she dried her wet face with the cleaning rag, she meant that it was very humid. Thin clouds were hanging in the foothills of the Kyrenia mountains dipping everything into a hot milky soup, huaaah, you heard deep sighs everywhere and jippey when you entered a supermarket with its cool atmosphere. The young salesgirl at the cashier was suffering from bronchitis because of the air condition and took cough solution, her eyes were drooping and watery, poor thing!

On Sundays the beaches are full, the streets empty and everybody is on the lookout for some shade and air moving to cool the hot skin.

Last weekend we spent in Limassol, we had said farewell to our Ambassador and although it was early evening and the sun was setting just above the railing of the beautiful ship BERLIN, we saw the Ambassador dry her front more than once while she shook hands with the many invited guests. Later in the evening we enjoyed sitting in the old city among all the young folk with some music played by street musicians; many of the small streets are made into pedestrian areas with the chairs of the many cafés and restaurants out, all very inspiring and I felt young too, at least a bit younger,  in the dimness of the summer evening, a breeze came through from the sea and it was delightful, but OhOh  the night in that charming old hotel close to the old port we suffered from the hot humidity, it seemed to creep into the room like a solid mass, the air condition was worth nothing and so we cooled our skins with wet towels; when I stepped out onto the balcony in the very early morning I saw the clouds of humidity literally float through the streets. We felt better when we came to the old city market which has been revamped and there were a fish market, fresh bread, but also artisans and a potter on his wheel was waiting for his students with bags full of fresh clay. I would have liked to stay on. We took our time to go back north, had a lovely swim at the Lady’s Mile – sounds funny – and had a fishy lunch at Marcos in Zygi and although we sat under a wide umbrella I got sunburnt.

However, nothing is as delightful as a plunge into your own pool though not really refreshing anymore and sitting on the terrace with a glass of red wine held against the last rays of sun plunging into the sea, some days later the sun setting will move back to behind the hills, with the longest day of the year long past. There is one corner on our terrace which gives us a relative coolness throughout the entire day,  during daytime the slightest wind from the sea is felt and in the evening and at night the breeze from the mountain behind us is coming like through a funnel and I could sit there all day and do my work; my artist friends have been enjoying it on our Thursdays over the last eight years.

Although the heat in Cyprus during daytime can be hard to bear and you are well advised to stay indoors, the more enjoyable it can be at the end of the day when the setting sun pours out its light in colours of red and orange and plunges the world around into a soft pinkish grey. These evenings are the reward, the gift the summer gives us.

So, there is one advice I can give, try to stay cool during the day and go out in the early mornings or at sunset. If you have work to do at the computer such as I have to do, place your feet in a bowl of cold water, and if you have swollen feet add some vinegar, it does wonders. Rather use a ventilator than air condition if at home and place some rosemary or lavender twigs in a vase, the smell,  it is said, would improve your energy. Eat light things and drink lots of water with lemon, and try to take things easy, read your newspapers or do important activities that require diplomacy in the cooler time of the day or postpone them to the winter months. 

While I am writing this we are bombarded with new photos of the events and bombardments happening in Palestine and Israel. War, hate, death of innocents, children nailed to the cross of politics….inhumanity. We have recently been visiting East Anatolia, the provinces in the most Eastern part of Turkey, along the borders of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia. I have learnt so much about their history and I wrote down our experiences, …in four parts on my website and in Cyprus Observer. To be able to write this report I had to read and research in many books and I found that all countries of the Near East down to Egypt have been involved in this never ending conflicts. I found especially one book most enlightening, the book ‘The Bible as History’ by Werner Keller in which the flow of cultures, their ups and downs, the conquering, destroying and re-establishing of cities on the ruins of the same and the reasons are well described. The area at the end of the Mediterranean has once been a melting pot of many cultures, rich and highly developed, but also fiercely fought over and still is. It is a law of nature for tribes to fight for their territory, animals do, but somehow they manage better, they respect each other more.

All this in the heat of our summer, it is exhausting, we had the elections here and the promises of the freshly elected ones to do it better, the world cup… I am sure that consumption of beer was higher than ever and in order to speak of something else than war….the lack of water…our lemons on the tree are small and soft from lack of water, my tomatoes in the garden just gave up, our cats lie flat in shady corners. Schools and universities are closed, the sale of newspapers goes down, that of watermelons goes up….

But honestly, do you want to live somewhere else? I don’t.




....and while we enjoy life despite the heat there is a different one not far away....
....and while we enjoy life despite the heat there is a different one not far away....

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