By Heidi Trautmann
You know Yorgos? That was the rustic place we used to go to on Sundays, holidays when we could expect lots of people to come celebrating. Not only the Maronites come from south of the green line but also expats and Turkish Cypriots who would enjoy to be part of the very special ‘Greek’or in this case ‘Maronite’ hospitality or way of celebrating. Actually, the Maronites are not of Greek descent, they are of Lebanese descent, they are followers of St. Maron and exercise the Roman Catholic belief and traditions. Their mother language is aramaeic, the language of Christ and finally I know that French was one of the official languages in Lebanon in the 20th century, at least I found a picture of a saint in the church of St. George carrying a French title. Why do they speak Greek today? Because in 1974 they were forced to decide whether they wanted to be Greek or Turks when the island was divided into two parts. Actually, they had wanted neither but found themselves closer to the Greek church and mentality than to the Turkish or Muslim ways.
This time we passed Yorgos restaurant and went to the new Wine House just around the corner where a number of houses have been renovated, it was nice to see the changes.
40 ATA members had to be seated in this lovely taverna, some of them in the kitchen. We enjoyed some antipasti, lovely olive bread and macaroni served with a glass of local village wine.
I spoke to Amy who runs the place with her husband Richard and she said that the house belongs to a local Maronite family and was renovated for family festivities but then they decided to rent it to Amy and Richard who have started this venture. A real nice place.
The new Maronite cultural centre and museum is at the outskirts of the village, freshly revamped with funds from EU and UN, and equipped with artefacts and traditional tools and witnesses of a people that came here between the 8th and 13th century. I talked to the lady who made the introduction and she said that the villagers are very proud of this new centre and they would be happy to meet with great interest. “We are all of one god whatever the various world religions tell us, she said.” What a wise remark.
To visit the St.George church, a really big building which was built with stones brought from the beach, either in donkey baskets or carts, a very personal effort of the inhabitants. This day the entire church was covered in constantly moving clouds of doves seeking shelter from the rain. The lady from the pub nearby had to bring the key and she opened the heavy door for us. The inside is graceful and modest and with many pictures of St. George’s stations. A place of peace. At the end of our visit some of us lit a bee wax candle to secure some help from St. George, one never knows when one would need it.