Lingering Philoxenia

“When you set out for Ithaca / ask that your way be long, / full of adventure, / full of instruction.” –C. P. Cavafy

Well, my friends, our great Cyprus adventure has come to an end. There is, of course, that bittersweet feeling that goes with any impressive travel experience ending as you return to the familiar arms of home. “Philoxenia” — love of strangers — is a phenomena I will continue to nurture in the months to come, though it seems harder to embrace now that I am home at this time of year when frazzled nerves can seem omnipresent.  Still, so much remains untold about our time in Cyprus, and so much calls for reflection that I have decided to continue the blog into the new year.

In “The Road Not Taken,” Frost notes how “way leads onto way.” that even though you save a path for another day, that day may never come. What remains is the journey you do experience and the impact those experiences have on you. I have been changed forever, not just because the past five months have been “full of adventure . . . full of instruction,” but more so because so many unforgettable people touched my heart in unexpected ways. Some of these people were part of my daily teaching experiences, and a few of them were strangers whose path crossed mine for only a few minutes. God moments, for sure.

Back in October, as work demands increased with parent-teacher conferences, end-of-quarter assessments, and new quarter preparations, my blogging time became too limited to write well and write thoughtfully. On the weekend, we continued to make day trips to medieval castles, ancient ruins, beaches, mountain villages, abbeys and other sacred places. And always, I returned with innumerable photographs and notes clipped from brochures and travel guides. “There will be time later,” I told myself, “to share these wonders on the blog.” And so I will.

As a transition to those upcoming blogs, I offer you the letter I wrote to my AISC family in the weekly newsletter “The Islander” the last week before I left.

As I reflect on my four months living in this amazing island country and teaching here at  AISC, I am filled with tremendous gratitude.

The Leventis Museum and Art Gallery both contain countless precious treasures. Lovely as those treasures are, they fail to surpass the treasures I will carry in my heart back to Colorado. When I think of the people, the places, and events that I have encountered here in Cyprus, I realize I am one very lucky person.

How lucky I’ve been to experience the merging of ancient and modern history and culture in the cities, the festivals, the museums, the monasteries, the churches, and the orchards and vineyards of Cyprus.

How lucky I’ve been to meet such brilliant, compassionate, and supportive people among the AISC staff and to engage with students whose dreams, goals, and world view suggest the world is inching its way toward greater peace and understanding.

How lucky I have been to meet so many devoted parents who care so passionately for their sons and daughters, who partner with this staff in guiding these young people toward self-actualization, life-long learning, and community involvement. In all my years of teaching, I’ve longed to witness such a connection, but nowhere have I seen it reach such a high degree.

How lucky I’ve been to work with thirty-eight individual students who’ve made me think, and made me laugh. . . .  and yes, at times, tried my patience sorely. Every day they have reminded me how hard we all must work to reach our goals, whether it is writing a sonnet, an essay, or completing a challenging assignment we thought impossible. I hope they have grown an appreciation for the journey and that it’s okay to fail if you can pick yourself up and move forward. And, yes, my heart aches for the few who still struggle to learn this life lesson.

My journey to Cyprus and AISC began back in July with Dr. Kleiss’s decision to hire me as Mrs. Coppes’ substitute. Without her taking that risk, none of this would have been possible. To be part of this school for such a brief moment in time has been an honor.
To everyone in the AISC family, I wish peace, love, and blessings for the future.

When I think of this school, I think of poet John Donne’s words: “No man is an island, / Entire of itself,/ Every man is a piece of the continent, / A part of the main. . . .”

You have all been like light shining through my prism, allowing me to cast some color onto the walls of this world. And for that, I humbly thank you.

Julia

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The Photo Blog

And so . . .  here is my attempt to load recent photographs onto my blog. The first shot is of our apartment. We are the apartment on the left just under the top floor “penthouse.” 1 Nicosia apt OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And this is the Farmer’s Market where Chuck faithfully shops for fresh produce on Wednesday mornings. 6 checking out slouvaki grills In Limoussal back in September, we found a shop that sells the barbecue grills for the famous slouvaki that Cyprus is famous for. We recently opted for a simpler charcoal grill that is smaller and free, compliments of our friend Brian. 8 in the Troodos Mountains Th first Saturday we had our car, the Honda Jazz, we drove to the Troodos Mountains and made some wrong turns, but ended up having a wonderful lunch in a small mountain town. We drove on to Pafos and returned home later that night. I stopped to photograph the Mediterranan sunset. (Don’t have it handy from this device right now. Sorry.) 5 at the beach with a book The sun, the surf, a good book. That says it all. 7 interior church of the holy cross nicosia Inside the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross in Old Nicosia. This is the church I mentioned in an earlier blog that provides masses in five or six different languages. 2 peace art at AISC Ah. The front of the American International School of Cyprus (AISC). On this particular morning, they had just placed the peace artwork in the foreground.  You can probably tell it used ot be a hotel, then a hopsital. My classroom is two former rooms with the bathrooms removed (though not the pipes that brought water to the showers). 3 pomegranate tree next to our apt On the east side of our building where we park our car, the pomegranate tree is dropping fresh fruit virtually in our laps. This woodcut is by Cypriot artist Costas Averkiou, dated 1975 and titled "Without a Home." This is one of several responses made by this artist following the Turkish Invasion of 1974. At the Leventis Art Gallery, Nicosia. 8/5/14 This artwork is by a Cypriot artist who did the woodcut in 1975, one year following the Turkish invasion. I need to check my notes on the artist’s name, but its composition reflects the sadness and feeling of loss experienced by those displaced in the 1974 invasion. 10 rubins head of Christ Rubens’ Head of Christ. This is one of my favorite paintings in The Paris Collection. Clearly, Leventis’ collection is priceless and represents several centuries of fine art.

As I was looking out one of the museum's windows, the reflection of the courtyard tree was reflected in the museum's window.

As I was looking out one of the museum’s windows, the reflection of the courtyard tree was reflected in the museum’s window.

I love it when life imitates art. 12 Sunday afternoon frappe at the Leventis If I am having a frappe, it must be Sunday. This one was at the Leventis Art GAllery sidewalk cafe. Well, I must say, this was not as scary as I thought it was going to be, loading files onto the blog. Definitely more to come. Stay tuned.

Not All Who Wander . . .

Not All Who Wander Are Lost.
Unless. . .
Unless the maps do not give the names of lesser streets, or if they do, they are spelled differently.
Unless the street names are not clearly identified when they become route numbers.
Unless you know the name of the next small village on your way to the larger site.
Unless the major intersections have no street name signs, or can MAYBE be found on the curb or perhaps on a blue sign in letters so small and words so long you cannot read them without stopping to park and walk to the sign.
On the upside: you are free to park on the sidewalk for any length of time and in any direction. If sidewalk parking is full, just park in the street lane with two tires on the sidewalk going the wrong direction on a one-way street.
In the city, most people speak English and can help you. In the country, communication works best with a map in hand and gestures. And then you must remember that the Greek word for yes is neh, which sounds more like no.
Dr. Zeuss was right — “Oh, the places you’ll go!”
Travel Discovery #1 about Ourselves: in daylight, we tend to miss the turns or miss something right in front of us; at night, our intuition and the compass on our Smartphone returns us safe and sound. No street sign reading necessary.
It’s not that we haven’t been able to find some things we want to see. We have. But we also have also found some interesting things we were not expecting to see. And that is the beautiful part that assuages most all of our frustrations.
First of all, locking in a great deal on a car rental has proven to be wise decision. One thousand Euros for 12 weeks won out over the expense of buying, then selling a car, adding insurance and licensing fees as well as the required Cypriot driver’s license. This adds up to $104 American dollars a week, IF the exchange rate stays around 1.26. When we arrived, $1.42 bought you one Euro. The car rental also won out over using taxis and being at the mercy of friends. The cost of gasoline is one euro and 42 cents, or roughly about $5.40 a gallon. Never mind how close we re to the major oil-producing countries.
The little blue Honda Jazz has not only taken us to grocery store, markets, and museums in Nicosia, but also to the Troodos Mountains where the leaves at upper elevations were turning, to MacKensy Beach and points along the southern Mediterranean coastline, to Dhali (where the ancient city of Idalion remains as pasture land next to the museum containing its artifacts), and to the Macheiros Monastery where Chuck’s bermuda shorts required donning a monk’s robe before we could stroll through the monastery.
Chuck does all of the driving and I am the one who chants “stay left, stay left” and counts the exits on the round-abouts. The first trip, of course, had its moments, but now he is so adept, I will worry about his driving in the US when we return.
My favorite excursions in recent weeks have been Macheiros Monastery and the Leventis Art Gallery just ten minutes from our apartment. At a stopping point above the monastery, we found a grand monument to one of the leaders of the EOKA paramilitary group — Grigoris Afxentiou. This is the group that fought in the mid-1950’s for enosis- that is, “union with Greece” as “the only” alternative from British rule. The light bulb came on when I realized this was the guerilla fighter referred to in the novel Small Wars (Sadie Jones) burned out in a cave by the British in March of 1957. It was a small part of the novel, but key to the main character’s emotional breakdown.
The monastery itself was a refreshing retreat of Byzantine architecture. Its palatial and elegant stone masonry lies quietly amid the pine forests of the Troodos, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and houses 25-30 Orthodox monks whose work is primarily agricultural. The interior of the church presented, as you might imagine, gold chandeliers and candlesticks and lovely iconic tributes to the saints. As someone once told me, the Eastern Orthodox Church might best be described as the “Catholic Church on steroids.” Unfortunately, photographs were not allowed inside the monastary. This means there is no photo of Chuck in his monk’s rob either. Maybe next time.
Our return drive to Nicosia allowed for a stop in the small mountain village of Gourris where we indulged in a “mezze” meal. Many restaurants offer their own versions of these. They kept bringing the little plates of goodies, one after the other. By the tenth course we thought we were finished. Turned out, there were two more meat courses which they wrapped with the other leftovers in the to-go box. We ate dessert there — honey-balls, which are evidently sopapillas all wadded up.
Our very persuasive waitress suggested we check out the gift shop across the street where her family’s handcrafted items and some provincial artwork were for sale. With minimal English, she proceeded to tell us how to use each item, from baby hats and girls’ headbands to scarfs and coasters. The cliche about selling ice to the Eskimo came to mind as I tucked the small package of gifts for Leslie and Isabella into my bag.
The next day, on Sunday afternoon, we found the new The Leventis Art Gallery, whicih recently opened (April, 2014). So named for the man who collected art for his homes in Athens and Paris, it houses “The Paris Collection” on one floor, including a duplicated salon that looked on on the Champs Elysee and the Eiffel Tower. The gallery also devotes an entire floor to Greek artists of the 20th and 21st centuries as well as contemporary Cypriot artists on the first floor. Being Sunday, a Nescafe frappe was in order and the gallery’s cafe did not disappoint.
This past Sunday we packed several things into one day. We drove south to Limoussal and stopped for lunch at a cafe in their huge and very modern mall egotistically named for the serious shoppers: My Mall. Seriously, capital M’s and all. There is an ice rink on the ground floor and so many shops, the mall at Cherry Creek falls a bit short.
The mall was en route to Lady’s Mile Beach, which gets its name from the horse whose British master rode her there early each morning during the 1950’s. It’s a pebbled beach with sand that softens its edges. The unpaved road that stretches alongside it offers a “salt lake” on the right while sand dunes mask the beach access. There are numerous opportunities to pull over and cross over to the beach, which we did. Fascinated by the abundance of smooth stones and pebbles, Chuck began his search of the most perfect ones to bring home. I sat on the dry sand and piled up 30 or more as a kind of zen-like artistic endeavor. It was a relaxing thing to do with a perfectly blue sky and a huge wedding cake of clouds stretching over the port city to the east.
When we returned to the car and continued south, we discovered half a dozen more private beaches, each with its own taverna and beach umbrella rentals and filled with people. As the road merged with the salt flats, we found the turn north and the Monastery of St. Nicolas of the Cats (I must admit, it was the name that intrigued me and it did not disappoint).
Compared to Machairus, St. Nicholas of the Cats is small monastery and offers a much simpler church. There were no tour guides; we simply stepped into the chapel to marvel at the elongated icons of saints, strolled toward the garden (closed) to take photographs, stopped to buy some honey from the older woman in black who had a table of small souvenirs to sell. then sat for awhile and petted as many of the two dozen cats resting lazily in the courtyard and doorways.
We had parked next to a sizable olive grove, its fruit inching its way toward a November harvest. We could have engaged in a small argument about what kind of olives these were, but with so many olive branches dancing in the breeze, we just didn’t have the desire.
Heading on down the road, we passed by the British RAF air strip. We did not see any RAF Tornado GR4s, but earlier at the beach we heard them high overhead, possibly en route to or returning from a mission in Syria. Later we drove through the middle of the base. I asked Chuck to pull over so I could take a picture of the massive amounts of radar equipment and doppler-like towers, but then I saw the “no photographs” sign just in time, thus thwarting an inquisition, cell phone forfeiture, and/or prison time as a guest of Her Royal Majesty. I swear, those angels do watch over us all the time.

“Hello, Darkness, My Old Friend”
When the heat began lifting a couple weeks ago, we stopped using the air conditioner at night. We opened our bedroom windows and let the fresh air in. Everywhere else I have ever lived, screens were a necessity, especially if you like to read in bed late at night. Not so here. No bugs. No miller moths! Unbelievable. However, sleeping with the windows open has introduced us to all the sounds we’d missed with the soft hum of the air conditioner muffling them. Sounds like the traffic on the busy street to the west of us, feral cat fights, a lover’s quarrel in Greek! (oh, how I longed for a translator!), the Morse code of dogs barking, the plethora of pizza deliveries by motor bike (or they could be for McDonald’s as we have discovered they deliver, too! And the Cypriots are all so skinny!), the midnight pick-up of garbage bins that sit on the sidewalks (taking up valuable parking space, I might add). These sounds last until about 2 or 3 am. Occasionally, like the lovers’ quarrel, the noise wakes me up. Usually, these sounds don’t keep me awake. I’m just aware of them as I fall asleep and rise in the night to use the bathroom.
In contrast, certain morning sounds have assumed an interesting pattern. My alarm jingles around 5:20 (I can get a good hour of grading in when the apartment is quiet and I am rested). At 5:45, the chant that calls Muslims to morning prayer begins (kind of comforting) and is followed by Orthodox church bells at 6:30, then the sound of the vacuum cleaning the nursery school across the street. Sometime that starts earlier, before the Anglican church bells. By this time, the coffee has brewed and my consciousness is sucked into the heavenly power of liquid caffeine.
If I am going to get this posted, I am going to have to leave my update on school for later. I am anxious to tell you more about the next holiday “Oxi Day,” which is a Greek holiday celebrating the word “no.” An important “no,” dating back to 1940.
My best regards to everyone. I have another photo blog I will also try to load today. Enjoy.

Parting Quote:
“There was little efficiency and correctness in Greece. Greece was innately chaotic, disorganized, unpredictable, It was a country for anarchists, individualists, freelancers. Heart counted more than brains; emotion, not logic ruled the day. That’s what we like about living here; it could drive you crazy, but it could also make you laugh our loud, touch you in deep, secret spaces.” Willard Manus, This Way to Paradise: Dancing on the Tables. [The memoir is set in Rhodes, but the quote seems to extend to all Mediterranean islands.]

Off and Running

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Classes began two weeks ago, I have met my students, and I am beginning to feel my routine is in place. I was so exhausted the first Tuesday night that I went to bed at 8:30. Those of you who know me to be a night owl are undoubtedly shocked. With no decent TV to distract, the earlier bedtime is nice, and I find that I can rise easily at 5:30 with greater clarity to grade papers for an hour before heading up the hill to school at 7:30.
The schedule is a ten-day rotation with all classes meeting 9 of those days. This schedule allows for 60 minute classes with all students carrying seven classes. Every day my schedule is slightly different for the times when I meet my four classes. If It sounds confusing, it’s because it is. I keep my schedule handy and look at it several times a day. Miraculously, it works. And it is good to have English 9 meet in the morning some days and in the afternoon other days. Thanks be to God and all the computer programming brains he put on this planet.

My ninth graders are writing a sonnet, my eleventh graders are learning about the 1920s and reading The Great Gatsby. and my seniors are trying not to read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. It is a great book that is already sucking them in with rich characters and an interesting exploration of the effect of colonialism on the Nigerian culture. It us a small class with one girl and five boys, three of whom are not very motivated. I mentioned the five year plan, but they didn’t seem to understand it could be in their future. But . . . enough about school!

The week before last was crazy-busy. Wednesday evening we went to the staff dinner by the school pool. Again, there was a wonderful spread of food with the local drink, a brandy sour, as a pre-dinner temptation, and, as always, great conversation with colleagues. We met Marion, a New Zealander who has called Cyprus home for some time now. An aide in the library, she and her husband own a restaurant in one of the outlying villages not far from Nicosia. She may well be the person we tap for ideas on the well-kept secret of the city bus routes and stops. This secret complements the tiny (or missing) street-identifying signs quite well. There are not even any routes posted on line. Taxi drivers seem to do as we do — look for familiar landmarks in navigating the city. God help us if the one shop ever removes its sandwich board sign that advertises in large letters “Lattes – 1 Euro.” It is the landmark by which we turn on our way home from points south.

On Thursday evening, we joined a small group for a walking tour of the buffer zone and Turkish Nicosia (beyond the wall). We met at the Holy Cross Catholic Church where masses are given in Greek and English every Sunday and, on a rotating schedule throughout the month, in French, Spanish, Polish, Sinhala (the language of SriLanka) and Tagalog (the language of the Phillipines, of which there’s a sizable population in Cyprys).  Its beautiful interior contains ancient stone relics from an original church dating to the early centuries of Christianity. In the monthly church newsletter, the current priest posted the following words from the Pope: “Intentions for September, 2014– (general) That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life. (missionary) That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and the suffering.”

The tour around and across the Green Line was eye-opening and informative. Although our guide’s narrative was more about blended, separated, and shifting communities in and around the wall — from the Ottoman invasion in 1570 through the British control (1878), sovereignty in 1960, to the final shift when Turkish invasion occurred 1974– I will offer our impression and some of the more memorable pieces of information.

We strolled for about an hour through the UN buffer zone where we passed by groups of older men playing backgammon at outdoor cafés and observed, among other things, clean plazas adjacent to places of worship, a former monastery converted to a shelter for women, and older couples sitting in front of their ornately carved front doors. Before proceeding to the entrance at the end of Lidras Street in Cypriot Nicosia, we stopped in a wide and open dusty back alley area with chain link fences delineating the north side with its ominous concrete gray watchtower and signs prohibiting photographs (Note: not all teachers are rule-followers).

Once we passed through the checkpoint and got the Turkish stamp on our passports. . . I am pausing while that sinks in, for it is a political no-no in these parts.  (Note: in spite of our request for the white paper stamp, the woman stamped our passport page, an act which allowed a dark cloud to descend over my listening skills for the next hour. There I was, imagining phone calls to the US Embassy if the exit checkpoint did not care to let us pass back to the other side. Clearly, we lived to tell about it and sleep in our own beds that night. Amy, our principal, as is her caring way, phoned an AISC friend at the embassy the next day to see what might lie ahead when we leave Cyprus in December. Nothing but a scolding, so she says. So I have chosen the Scarlet O’Hara approach and will worry about that tomorrow. Please do likewise. We are surely not the first people this has happened to.)

And now back to the tour. at first Lidras Street North presented some gay little shops and souvenir stands, but soon turned shabbier and more desolate with abandoned warehouses and vacant store fronts. The residential area resembles pictures of ethnic neighborhoods in 1930’s Eastern Europe. Children played in the streets, clean laundry hung colorfully from clothes lines across back balconies, a family of half dozen feral cats lay lazily in the dirt in front of a car repair shop. We stopped briefly outside of a former Armenian church abandoned since since the Turkish invasion. It still awaits a new destiny, perhaps a museum, as there are a myriad of them on both sides of the wall.

As you might imagine, all of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Turkish Nicosia have been transformed into mosques or museums. As minarets are added to centuries-old cathedrals and as the Turkish flag has been carved into the mountains north of the city, one is left with a harsh and sad reminder of the personal loss to the northern Cypriots who were dispossessed of home and businesses and forced to move south in 1974.

Nearing the end of our tour, we stopped at the western side of the wall (which was, at this point, waist high and low enough to sit upon) and gazed down upon what used to be a small football (i.e., soccer) stadium no longer in use. Three sizable and seemingly stray dogs romped on an acre or so of sparse grass. Just before sunset, we crossed back through the UN buffer zone at the Kyrenia Gate and walked up the street to Holy Cross near Pafos Gate. There are eleven spear point bastions at equal intervals around the circular Venetian wall, each one pointing to a Cypriot city like a brick compass. Five are on the south side, six on the north.

The Venetians built the wall in the eleventh century as a fortress. When the British arrived in 1878, the walled city was “Nicosia central” and ethnic communities began settling in around the edges. The “renaissance” of the Old City that Chuck and I enjoy spending time in began only five years ago after Cyprus became a part of the Europeon Union. Lidras Street is a social gathering place and a shopping haven. A colleague who has an apartment down there noted that 8:30 pm seems to be the senior dining hour, with the young people arriving around ten. I do believe the cafés outnumber the shops, but not by much. One can purchase a Cypriot coffee or a latte or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day. Or not.

The equivalent of Macy’s — Debenham’s– has stores all over the city and one in the Old City where its top floor offers a cafe for anyone who wants to eat before or after trying on reasonably priced clothes or even designer styles with higher price tags. Unfortunately, Debenham’s does not offer lower-priced watches. I unintentionally left mine at home and really only want to replace it with a $20-$30 one, but am finding that next to impossible. Not even Carrefour the Walmart-ish grocery store has them. And so, I rely on my cell phone.

Friday evening we were planning to go to the new Culture Center for its preview, but fate intervened with another plan.

I arrived home from school just after four pm and found the elevator not working, so I climbed the stairs to the apartment and discovered that Chuck wasn’t home. It is not unusual for him to go walking in the afternoon, but he hadn’t left a note. I was a little shell-shocked from a hectic day and near meltdown (caused only by my own silly standards of perfectionism), so I it took me about ten minutes to realize Chuck might be stuck in the elevator. Indeed, he was.

By the time I got back to the elevator, the girls across the hall were phoning the fire department and a small fleet of AISC personnel (Michelle, Ann, Mike-the-security man, and our two friends Laramie and Bryan) had arrived, prompted by Chuck’s phone call. He had tried to reach both the elevator company emergency number provided in the elevator and Margaret our landlord, to no avail. Since he had the phone with the numbers for the school and our director Michelle, they were the ones who responded quickly. He had also tried to reach me via the school, but I had already left.

He did not have any water with him, so his shirt was pretty well soaked with sweat by the time the fire department arrived an hour later. Everyone convened inside our apartment briefly as Chuck rehydrated and we made the decision to stay at home and rest. The cultural arts center will be there to see later. We also had a busy weekend ahead of us.i

On Saturday morning we joined our Canadian friends, Laramie and Bryan on a trip to Limassol, a large city one hour away on the southern coast. There’s a lot to see there that we will return for when we have more time, but for this short trip, while our friends went for a swim at Governor’s Beach, Chuck and I chose to walk the waterfront promenade and a small part of the Old Town area. We had a wonderful lunch at a small cafe that is part of Castle Square. On Sunday morning, we spent some time there touring the castle which contains many tombstones (moved there for display) from the Middle Ages, religious icons, and a variety of  household and military artifacts. From its rooftop, one can view the city of Limousal extending itself toward the  Mediterranean.

The Village Hotel, where we stayed was quaint. The room was tiny and clean, had an air conditioner and excellent WiFi connection. You know, all the basics. For a mere 33 Euros, we had a cool place to lay our heads for an afternoon respite before going to the Annual Wine Festival on Saturday evening.

The  12-Euro entrance fee to the wine festival allowed each of us a free bottle of wine from any one of the four major vintners underwriting the festival and all the free samples you needed to make just the right decision. The wine that Cyprus is known for is Commanderia. It’s a dessert wine that could double easily as Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. Only better. Of course. There was music (not as good as the GreekFest in Denver) and a few dance performances. There were lots of food booths we investigated before sitting down to an outdoor dining table for some souvlaki and salad.

Returning to Nicosia on Sunday afternoon, we had an hour or so of rest before Laramie and Bryan picked us up to attend an informal gathering of the AISC English Department. Our hosts, Dina (the new mom for whom I am subbing) and Kyle (he is the IB director) are from New York and Minnesota and love Cyprus so much, they’ve had their furniture moved here. Their apartment is large and beautiful. Their son is in first grade and their daughter is just three months old. Laramie and Bryan are from Vancouver and have lived and/or visited 30 countries, teaching in six of them. She’s our department chair. Our cute young middle school English teacher Anna was there, too, with her Cypriot husband and six-month-old baby boy, Alex.

This blog is already much longer than I intended, and I still have more stories to tell. I will just have to save them for next time. Stay tuned as the adventures of Chuck and Julie in Cyprus continue.

Up next: the Cypriots and their mania for festivals, meeting my students’ parents, and the arrival of the Honda Jazz into our island experiences.

“International-Mindedness”

Greetings from sunny Nicosia! It’s hard to believe we have been here two weeks already. The kindness of strangers-now-friends continues and new experiences abound. I will eventually get around to posting photographs, but today these descriptive and, I hope,  informative paragraphs will offer you a glimpse of this new and ever-adventurous life.

Our Home Away from Home:

Our apartment is modern and spacious, sparsely decorated and comfortable (well, except for the very firm mattress which has been having a few conversations with my sciatica). We are on the third floor of a four-storey building.  Our balcony looks north-ish toward the Old City and the Green Line separating the Republic of Cyprus from the Turkish occupied section.  Our kitchen window faces east-ish toward my school just half a block away.

With temperatures reaching 43 degrees C (that’s 109 F), we are happy to have AC and no need of a clothes dryer. We simply hang wet clothes fresh from the washer up on the back balcony where the W&D are located, and half an hour later, they are thoroughly dry.

Our kitchen seems to be straight out of the IKEA catalog with an electric cook-top stove, a skinny refrigerator and freezer, and lots of cupboard space with all the basics furnished.  The stove gives me fits as it is a “touch turn-on” instead of knobs. Miraculously, Chuck is able to get the cooktop working just fine (no jokes about touch turn-ons, please).

The two bedrooms are divided by a blue-tiled bathroom with one of those super-efficient European showerheads where a five-point streaming trickle suffices one’s needs. Our hot water comes from a solar-heated tank on the roof and is sometimes scorchingly hot, but readily adjusted with the coldwater tap. It will be interesting to see how fewer daylight hours affect that process in a couple months.

Last week, CableNet added a functioning connection to our TV and Wi-Fi (even though I seem to lose the wireless connection if I move more than ten feet away from the router).  Not being a cable user in the States, I am disappointed in the choices available (perhaps I would be if we had cable TV). The TLC station in particular really gives a skewed view of Americans . . .  or maybe I just don’t know who my fellow-Americans really are anymore. That’s highly possible.  TLC used to mean “Tender Loving Care.” I’m not sure what it means nowadays — perhaps “Tawdry, Loquacious Characters.” In all fairness, there could be worthwhile shows on this channel; I just haven’t found them yet. We do enjoy BBC, the History Channel and Discovery.

Our spare bedroom, for anyone considering a fall trip to visit, is really spacious, yet sparse with only a desk and a futon (probably far more comfy than our mattress). Right now we have parked the ironing board in there for touching up those air-dried cottons.

Food and Such:

Oh. My. Goodness. Such fresh produce and mixtures of seasonings! I have even tried some lamb (for the first time since my childhood on the farm where it was supposedly bedazzled by some mint jelly but served only to remind me of a deceased 4-H project). I found it wonderfully delicious. Nikos, the chef for the school cafeteria, has prepared several light lunches for us as we prepare for our classes. He also own a restaurant in Old City, which is on our bucket list. The fresh produce this time of year is rich with sweet tomatoes and ripe melons.

Our trip to Mackenzie Beach last week with a few friends from school included a pleasant dip in the Mediterranean and dinner al fresco. I  had a delicious moussaka and a taste of Chuck’s calamari. Yum! This particular beach lies in the landing approach to the Larnaca Airport– not so close we could see in the windows, touch tires,  or smell fuel, just close enough to be awesome.

Chuck is doing quite a bit of the cooking at home.  We’ve discovered that a tasty vegetable plate of zucchini, peppers, and onions stir-fried in olive oil tops off our day quite well.  The honeydew melon is out of this world with sweetness, like a juicy ripe pear. And he is nearly on a first-name basis with the souvlaki take-out place a couple blocks away.

Last Friday night, all of the new teachers, their spouses and children were treated to a traditional “meze” meal in the Old City. This turned out to be an eight-course array of appetizer-sized dishes. Next time I do this, I will take notes on each item. For a sweeping glimpse, consider a fresh salad, a variety of olives, breads with dips, different cheeses and potatoes, a zucchini-and-meat patty, skewers of pork and chicken souvlaki . . .  topped off with melon and Cyprus coffee.

New Teacher Week:

I’ve said a lot about this on Facebook, but not everyone is able to catch those pieces, so I will reiterate here. Much of what I absorbed has dealt with access to electronic files such as my grade book, an atlas of rubrics and assessments, policy and procedure manuals, student services, diversity and the school’s history and culture. Clearly, this “old dog” wasn’t the only one learning” new tricks.

Not only am I impressed with the quality of resources and organization here, I am impressed with the caliber of staff. Teachers here are multi-degreed and extremely well-traveled. Our three-person English department is all new with Anna teaching the three middle school grades (truly a delightful young-American and new-mom with Cypriot roots and relatives  here in Nicosia). Laramie is a Canadian from Vancouver whose math-teacher husband Brian is one of our “trailing spouses” who will also be doing some subbing for us. They have lived and taught all over– the Phillipines, Cairo, Abu-Dhabi and Canada. We three are already working as a team, bonded primarily by the collaborate-or-die philosophy as well as like-minded enthusiasm for concept-based learning.

International-Mindedness:

We spent some time last week discussing what it means to teach in an “internationally-minded” school. I think as my blog continues, you will have a clearer picture of what this means. It’s much broader than the old Aurora Central slogan from the 90’s “Celebrate Diversity,” although that is a great place to start. As teachers here, we are well aware of the different cultural backgrounds our students represent. Some are from Embassy families (not just US) and some are Cypriots. The majority come from cultures where collectivism is valued: “we” over “I,” the group over the individual, and being non-confrontational as opposed to confrontational. According to research, 70% of the world’s population approaches life from a collectivistic viewpoint.  The Other 30% (the US, Canada, Australia and Western Europe) work from the individual-above-all-else view. Religion is taught in all schools except AIS where opportunities to focus on comparative religions occur between the sixth and tenth grades. Rosetta Stone allows for 25 languages to be taught at this school.

On Friday afternoon, two speakers from each of the primary cultures on the island presented historical background on Cyprus, one being Greek-speaking, the other Turkish-speaking. Both speakers are board members of the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research that serves as a think tank for the UN . The sweep of “recent” history (as opposed to ancient history) from Ottomans to the British to the Republic and the “events of 1974” were presented thoughtfully. Much progress is being made  in shifting the language of the history textbooks (not the facts) to be more unified and respectful between the two viewpoints and in training the teachers who use those textbooks in any school in Cyprus.  As we will be taking a guided tour next week that will take us across the Green Line in the Old City, I will have more to talk about as the blog continues.

Naturally I have found new insights in listening, observing and reading. I finished Durrell’s Bitter Lemons and a novel titled Small Wars by Sadie Jones, which is the story of a fictional British Major whose marriage and conscience are sorely tested during the mid-1950’s turmoil.

AISC is clear about human rights issues.  The school’s Human Rights Policy, developed last year by the students with guidance from the staff,  speaks for itself:  (from the elementary school poster)

  • I have the right to be myself.
  • I have the right to be free from name-calling and physical harassment.
  • I have the right to feel proud of what makes me different.
  • I have the right to my own privacy.
  • I have the right to learn, make mistakes without embarrassment, and be proud of my success.
  • I have the right to my own opinion and the right to agree or disagree with others respectfully.
  • I have the right to feel safe at school.

Well, there is more I wanted to say this time, but it will have to wait. And I really hope to be able to share with you soon some photographs of the beautiful outdoor wall mural the students designed and painted last spring.

Trust that we are well and happily engaged in this wondrous adventure.

Parting Quotes:

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. ~Sydney J. Harris

I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

“The American International School in Cyprus inspires students to become enthusiastic, life-long learners who value integrity, cultural diversity, and the pursuit of excellence. Using an American and International Curriculum, our qualified professionals work with the school community to prepare students to be creative, critical thinkers, and socially responsible world citizens.” Mission statement of  AISC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Days In Country

August 18, 2014
The Greek word for hospitality, philoxenia, translates simply as “love of strangers.” Since the beginning of July and into our first few days here in Cyprus, the emails and personal greetings from the AISC office have been filled with the philoxenia the Greeks are so famous for. Each staff member I have encountered has been kind and graciously welcoming. Yes, that is hyperbole, but I had to say it that way because it is true.
As you might imagine, as with any best-laid travel plans, things can go a little awry. All did not proceed seamlessly.
Back in Colorado, in the wee hours of August 6, I took Chuck to the ER at SkyRidge for round two of the Gall Bladder Saga that began in November. This time, thankfully, the surgeon removed it. The attending doctors were split 50-50 on whether he should be traveling, that is, flying for nine hours and then another five only six days after the laparoscopic surgery. On Friday, his GP said he was good to go. As if.
We boarded Tuesday night the 12th in Denver as scheduled and snuggled down for a sardine’s summer nap (thank you, international economy class, for reminding us all how large and old we are) across the country and the Atlantic, arriving at Heathrow around noon the next day. We used nearly every minute of our two-hour layover to take the shuttle from Terminal 5 to Terminal 1, simply because there were lines to stand in yet again, including security.
Neglecting to pull my iPad from my backpack (note: I did have my laptop out, though not my Smartphone which lived up to her name and hid deep in the recesses of my purse faking death), my backpack was pulled aside for closer scrutiny. Evidently grandmothers with iPads and cosmetic bags are the latest threat to security in London. That would have been fine had the young woman in front of me not had BOTH of her carry-on bags pulled aside. God love her for buying all new make-up for her trip. We watched for ten minutes as the security person opened each and every mascara, lipstick and lotion box. Thankfully he jettisoned the eight-ounce bottle of moisturizer that quite possibly held plutonium or some yet-untested Hogwarts’ concoction. She was too young to be using moisturizer anyway. Hmph!
Dashing to our gate with only one minute to spare before the assigned boarding time, I had no time to grab a much-needed bottle of water. But of course we waited again because there was a thirty-minute delay in boarding. Once we were seated, Chuck very gallantly asked for two glasses of water when the beverage attendant came. Two glasses and three chapters of an Evanovich novel later, I was fast asleep with a little more leg room than I’d had the night before.
When the plane landed around 9:30 pm, we discovered that the design of the Larnaka Airport included a one-mile trek to the terminal. I’m not sure. It might have been less. Forty-five minutes later, when the baggage machine failed to spew forth our two checked bags, we knew we were in Europe for sure. (Okay, geography buffs, Eurasia.) Deja Vu Paris, 2007. Fortunately mine arrived on Friday morning, but Chuck’s did not arrive until today (Monday).
We think Chuck’s bag might possibly have sat in Denver. The agent checked his bag first and used the last bar coded strip on the machine for his bag. Fifteen minutes later, she had figured out how to re-load the machine and proceeded to tag my bag. We think maybe the “stickum” on the luggage ID tape on Chuck’s bag may have been lacking and thus failed to make it all the way down the chute with the bag. [But the bar code tag did arrive in tact.] Cyprus baggage claim folks were scratching their heads, wondering, and not answering my third day of phone calls. Clearly, the baggage claim folks got a C- in Philoxenia 101. And here is my nomination for euphemism of the year: a lost bag claim is called a “property irregularity report.” As if his suitcase needed some prune juice?
Michelle, the AISC Director and her staff have been diligent and super-persistent (yes, another apt hyperbole) in assisting us with the nagging phone calls. Sunday night, before we knew they had found the bag, we solicited Nick’s help in nagging DIA to see if it is still sitting there. Without Chuck’s swimming trunks, we would have to look for a nude beach. (Sorry, just kidding.)
The past few days have passed with even more philoxenia. Corinna, the school librarian, seems to have signed on as my buddy for this opening week and took us to the grocery store on Friday afternoon. Good to shop for food with the locals. One learns a lot by observing. Great produce, cheeses, meats and such to complete the apartment refrigerator already stocked with some basics by our landlord, Margaret, formerly the AISC school nurse. She is a dear woman, a British Cypriot, and was quick to point out the doctor just down the street was at-the-ready to assist Chuck with any medical need he might have following his surgery.
Food basics? Yes. That would mean salad fixings, half a dozen eggs, some milk, bread, butter, yoghurt, cheese, an array of fresh fruit, and two bottles of wine. It is as if she knew us. Most of the food is grown in Cyprus and we can tell you the chicken is especially fresh and delicious.
Saturday, we were given a complimentary taxi ride to IKEA and the Cyprus Mall to shop for anything missing. Like clothes for Chuck, who, I must say, did well washing his limited wardrobe out at night. Theo, the taxi man, found us an electronics place where we purchased a transformer and an adapter so we can plug in the laptop, Ipad, phones and — alas! — Chuck’s CPAP machine once it arrived. We are not complaining. We slept like babies that first night and napped half of Friday as well.
I was proud to have read my first Greek word without a translator to help. Did you all know that Exodus is not only a book in the Bible but the Greek word for “exit’? Aha! But can you read it spelled with a chi, a delta, and a sigma? I knew those years as an AOPi Greek at Ohio Northern would pay off one day!
Lining up our Internet and TV service has had to wait a few days Life is pretty laid back here. All shops were closed on Friday as it was a religious holiday honoring the Virgin Mary and all girls named Mary. Nicosia (Lefkosia to the Cypriots) was a ghost town as everyone headed to the beach for these hot days of August. Add to that Saturday the 16th as Cypus Independence Day from the British (1960) and this weekend’s options were pretty much limited. We did sign up for a TV and Internet package this morning with “only” a maximum of six weeks to wait for installation. As I said, Life is pretty laid back here.
We have both been doing a lot of reading, especially the travel guides. Our bucket list grows with desires of things to do during out 18-week stay. We have inquired about a day trip over to Northern Cyprus to see Bellapais Abbey. Corinna tells us things look and feel different over there, more bleak and austere. Certainly less prosperous than the Republic of Cyprus, with its population of 900,000, including 120,000 foreign residents.
I am almost finished reading Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell, a memoir recommended to me by our Greek friends Margaret and Stell, two retired UGA profs who are summering in northern Greece at the moment. Although many of Durrell’s mid-century British allusions are lost on me, Bitter Lemons is lyrically written and includes humorous stories of the author’s life in Cyprus between 1953 and 1956 as he attempts to purchase and build a house (think: A Year in Provence) and assume his Herculean job as Press Advisor for the British. Reared in India by British parents, Durrell is of my parents’ generation (1912-1990) and exhibits compassionate and thoughtful insight for both the local village taverna folks he befriends and the government he serves.
Saturday night Corinna and her husband Peter (who, by the way, loaned us their old cell phones to use while we are here) took us into the walled Old City for some wonderful Italian Food (what else, when surrounded by a wall made by Venetians?), compliments of AISC. Even the Old City is divided in half with the north being occupied by the Turks for the past 40 years (more on that later). Since the wall came down in Berlin a few decades ago, Nicosia is the only divided city in the world.
Cypriot philoxenia continues this week as I move into “new teacher” meetings on Wednesday and conclude with an afternoon and evening at the beach Thursday and dinner in the Old City Friday night. It’s tough here, I tell you.
The bruises on my arm are diminishing somewhat. I have been virtually pinching myself for a reality check as in, “Am we really here in this beautiful place with such gracious people?” Add to that, a student load of fewer than 35 students over four classes? Wow. I expect the “gloss” will wear off soon enough, but still.
Unexpected Discoveries:
1. No bugs. Except for the omnipresent, dawn-to-dusk, invisible cicadas whose buzz resembles high-powered electrical transformers near the Niagara River, there is nary a mosquito, fly, or gnat to be found. Yet.
2. Big-eared feral cats. Lots of them. Revered by the Egyptians but sorely testing Cypriot philoxenia, they appear unobtrusively at dusk along the side streets and alleys, scavenging for the food and water people put out for them. But no one adopts them. Well, Corinna did adopt a kitten last year, and that is working out fine.
3. The AlphaMega grocery store we visited is two stories and provides its shoppers with special escalators (similar to the ones at the Denver IKEA) for their shopping carts alongside the regular escalator so they can go upstairs to find the cereal, cookies, and various dry goods. What an innovative use of store space.
Not-so-unexpected discovery:
The cafeteria food at IKEA is the same everywhere. Love those Swedish meatballs (or as the Greeks call them, keftedes).

I end this, as usual, with some . . .
Parting Thoughts:
“Each of us is a being in himself and a being in society, each of us needs to understand himself and understand others, take care of others and be taken care of himself.” ~Haniel Clark Long
“Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will — whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures — and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” Lawrence Durrell, the opening chapter of Bitter Lemons, a memoir of his experiences of Cyprus (1953-56)

Two Weeks Out

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We are two weeks out from leaving for Cyprus. Our flight reservations came through yesterday. We leave Denver on the evening of August 12 on British Airways, have a brief layover in London, then fly on to Larnaca, Cypress, for a 9 pm arrival on August 13.
We have scheduled updates for our shots as well as prescription extensions. I am organizing a notebook of the curricula sent to me for the fall semester. On the advice of my friend Rita, I have even done a little shopping for clothing (sometimes, it is just a good thing to humor your friends, you know?). We’ve also been studying up on the Cypriot culture and what to expect in terms of weather and places (ancient and contemporary) we want to see both in Cyprus and in nearby Turkey.
I’ve ordered three books, one of them recommended by my friend Margaret and her husband: Bitter Lemons, a travel memoir by Laurence Durrell. The other two I found on my own– Small Wars, a novel by Sadie Jones (set in 1950’s Cyprus) and This Way to Paradise: Dancing on the Tables by Willard Manus another memoir about an American writer and his Scottish wife who went to the Greek Island of Rhodes (not far from Cyprus) for a vacation in 1961 and stayed for 35 years! These three books and a good visitor’s manual are probably the only hard copy books we pack.
Yesterday the Petite Bear Duchess of Wellington, Ohio, arrived and seems ready to travel abroad once more. The Duchess found 12 of us Wellington “girls” when we visited Savannah, Georgia, in 2006. She has been to Florida, Williamsburg, a couple of cool places in Ohio, and France (2007). I trust she is ready for this trip and will help me tell the tales of our time in Cyprus. Is that ouzo I smell on her breath already?
In the past week, I have downloaded a few pictures of Cyprus onto my Pinterest account. The abandoned airport in Nicosia — closed since 1974– is a little haunting, but the beaches make up for it. We have also learned a number of interesting details about the island, some of which you may be familiar:
1. The Republic of Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean (behind Sicily and Sardinia) and is a member of the European Union.
2. Wikipedia tells me (and I think it is accurate from other texts we’ve scanned) that the “Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts; the area under the effective control of the Republic, comprising about 59% of the island’s area, and the Turkish-controlled area in the north, calling itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and recognized only by Turkey, covering about 36% of the island’s area. The international community considers the northern part of the island as territory of the Republic of Cyprus illegally occupied by Turkish forces.” (BTW, if you are wondering about that other 5 percent, those 96 acres belong to the British and are called the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The Areas serve as a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom communications gathering and monitoring network in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Approximately 7,700 Cypriots and 8,000 British military personnel inhabit the Areas.)
3. Primary languages are Greek and Turkish, but I am told English is spoken widely in the cities. Margaret tells me the people will smile at our American accents. Greek Orthodox (actually, the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus aka the Church of Cyprus), is the main religion (78%), with 18% Sunni Muslim and 4% everyone else (a few Catholic churches remain). Most likely, I will be plugging into our church’s web site for Rev. Rob’s sermons and to catch up with what’s happening at home.
4. Cyprus is celebrated in Greek mythology as the birthplace of Aphrodite. On the western end of the island, one can visit the rock near which she sprang fully grown from the sea and was escorted ashore by dolphins. More importantly, Cyprus is the site of the first Christian mission established by Paul and Barnabas. Saint Barnabas, the Apostle was born in Cyprus. The Bible describes Barnabas as ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’ (Acts 6:24). Although Paul and Barnabas eventually parted ways after their mission work in Syria, Barnabas returned to Cyprus where he was stoned to death in Salamis around 61 AD. There’s an interesting story about the discovery of his burial site which I will save for later.
5. As a point of reference, Cyprus is 149 miles south of Tarsus, Turkey; 373 miles north of Cairo, Egypt; 145 miles northwest of Beirut, Lebanon; and 224 miles northwest of Tel Aviv, Israel. And 6617 miles from Denver, Colorado.
In closing this entry off, I thank all of you who are excited for us and are praying for safe travel and welcoming experiences in Cyprus. Your faith and encouragement mean so much to us.

Parting thoughts:
The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land. – G. K. Chesterton
The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience.  The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him.  He goes “sight-seeing.”  ~Daniel J. Boorstin

Sharing the News

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would find a way to live abroad for a few months, teach school, and immerse myself in a culture so different from my own. But in the span of less than three weeks, that is exactly what has happened.

I just accepted a substitute teaching job this fall in Cyprus, the eastern-most island in the Mediterranean. The assignment is four English classes at the American International School in Nicosia from August 15 – December 8. Chuck and I will leave on or about August 12 to settle in before teacher meetings and the September 1 start date for students. I am optimistic that Chuck will adapt to his new role as house-husband and dinner-maker. However, I suspect he may while away the school day sipping coffee and kibitzing with the locals.

How did I get this job? A friend of mine, a fellow DCHS teacher and friend, Heather Pitzel, has been teaching overseas for 4 years (now leaving Cyprus for Munich). She alerted me to the opening at the American International school in Cyprus, an opening which was created at the last minute when the substitute they had hired for a maternity leave needed to assume a middle school full-time job.
I sent the Director of AISC my resume and a cover letter. A few days later, she contacted me by email with instructions for applying. I provided references, then had a phone interview with her last Friday night that lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. On July 21 she offered me the job.

As always, with international travel, there are things to be careful about, but Chuck and I are so excited to have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a different culture, in this case the Greek-Cypriot culture as well as the cultures of the students in this school. There is, of course, much to do to get ready to go. But I am still high on the whole idea, and cannot believe we will soon be on our way.

I mentioned the possibility to my book club friends on Sunday night and received an enthusiastic response. These women are all seasoned world travelers and some of them often travel solo to foreign lands. I had been so careful not to share this with too many people because I thought it was such a long shot. After all, I am 68 years old and have not subbed in about five years. My doubting self asked, “Am I up to this?” My book club friends had no doubt whatsoever I would get it. True, I was closing in on the final steps of the process, but still. There was another candidate (younger, I am sure) the Director was interviewing at the same time.

Oddly, this feels a lot like winning one of the grand prizes on “The Price Is Right.” I not only receive a salary and housing, but my travel expenses and medical expenses while overseas are covered as well. I am excited about my four classes– two Pre-IB 9, a junior literature and writing class and a senior literature and writing class. None of them will have more than 12 students in them. How cool is that?

For the past 18 months, I have been immersing myself in the Greek Culture– reading fiction books, travel manuals, and a variety of nonfiction books recommended by others. Movies such as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin likewise nudged me along. All of this research has been for a mere flashback that will occur in my novel and provide a character’s back story. Add to this the fact that I have been living vicariously in Greece for many summers following the blogs of my dear college friend Margaret Holt. Her husband’s memoir, set partly in the Greece of the mid-Twentieth Century and partly in his adopted United States, is a piece that revealed much to me about the people of northern Greece.

Needless to say, my heart’s desire was out there in the universe I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get to Greece in 2015 to put finishing touches on my book. I am humbled that it came to me in an unexpected, almost miraculous, way.

Thought for the Day: “He who has faith has an inward reservoir of courage, hope, confidence, calmness, and assuring trust that all will come out well — even though to the world it may appear to come out most badly.” —  B. C. Forbes

God is good, all the time.