By Heidi Trautmann
One of the first events Anglo Turkish Association had on their programme for 2012 was to spend a day out with its members and friends and visit the three villages of Kozan, Camlibel and Korucam, villages in the west of the island. The event was carried through in cooperation with the CyprusAvtive Agency.
This year we are much blessed with lots of rain and so hardly anybody was complaining when thunderstorms and heavy rains accompanied us throughout the day. As a sort of re-compensation we got to see the landscape, stretching out at our feet towards the sea further in the west, in a luscious green when for moments the sun broke through.
Kozan, snuggling up the hills towards the wall of red rocks on the south side of the Kyrenia mountain range, was the first village to visit and we ploughed through the water coming down the steep village streets. Just imagine how the roads must have been in the days not so long ago when there were only dirt roads. A mixed population of Greek and Turkish Cypriots it was before the times of trouble and after 1974 refugees from Paphos or Baf have settled here. “We want to show you the real village life, of people who live and work here for their up-keeping, and if you ask me if they are happy, here in this simple village, I must tell you, they are. They are happy because they are self sufficient and are far away from wanting more!” This says Savaş, the owner of Kozan Restaurant up there in the mountains where we have often been his guests for a picnic in the shade of high Cyprus trees.
So he takes us to the village bakery where the scent of fresh bread reaches our nostrils seductively, and as we enter, two young women in white aprons explain the daily procedures of kneading the dough and firing the huge oven where in the light of a spotlight we can see the big round shapes of bread next to each other. I pay for one but will collect it later when they are ready. Some villagers explain that the smell of bread calls them up for the day’s duties. How convenient! We get some fresh minis to taste and are asked not to finish all of it because we would need it to have it together with the cheese and the other goodies later.
Further up the road we visit the cheese maker and the petmez ‘factory’. We learn how the local cheese is made – here of goat and sheep milk -, hellim, nor (fresh cheese) and parmesan; all over the village I have discovered ‘cheese bags’ hanging on lines in open sheds or on balconies, partly for getting nor or to reach the degree of parmesan. How delicious the cheese which we get to taste and bread is not really needed.
Above the nearby hut we see smoke mingling with the rain and as we enter the shed we discover the open fire under a huge wide kettle where the petmez is bubbling. But first we got the carob to taste raw – substitute for sugar and sweeties in the old days, just as my grandmother used to cook sugar-beets – then we learn that the carob fruit are crushed and soaked in water for 12 hours; this water we are offered to drink and we are surprised how good it tastes. I am going to try that myself with the fruit from the trees we have in our garden. The syrup you’ll have at the end after another 12 hours over the fire, you can use for practically everything, for cakes, salad sauces, or whatever you fancy.
On the main village road which leads to the top of the mountain and continues towards Karşiaka we find Fatma with her little daughter Sahide, the wood carver of the village, a young woman who has always lived here. She has learnt her skills at HASDER Folk Art Institute in Nicosia which promotes village people to continue the art after they have finished their studies. Our Laurie Briggs has been another most talented student of this organization.
In her small shop she has displayed her works, small chests and newly carved cabinet doors and mirror frames and she hopes to make a living of it and perhaps encourage other villagers to work with her.
Another downpour forces us to rush to the village coffee shop, another important village meeting point. I would hardly call it a coffee shop when entering the place where I find a kuaför’s chair right at the entrance, a billiard table in the centre and along the wall comfortable old fashioned sofas and arm chairs. A funny place to discuss village matters but an intriguing idea!
From here we approach – between some more downpours – the village oil mill on top of the hill, still equipped with the old milling stone installation to crush the harvested olives and the wicker baskets to be filled with the pulp then mounted onto a pole and pressed to release the oil, but with more modern filter systems to obtain and take home the golden stream of olive oil. The place is quiet in these days and will only come to life again in late October.
We mount the bus again which has some problem to get around the narrow lanes in Kozanköy and we head down through green fields where the wild fennel tries to box its way to the surface along the roadsides.