After the ” summer” ( a bit of a misnomer this year) in Puglia it is a surprise to get to Cyprus and hear so much English. Our entire apartment block is British, indeed barring one Greek family our entire street is British. There are more Brits living in our small town here than there are Brits and all other foreigners living in the whole of Puglia. Over the hill from us is the Russian compound but to get by they all speak English, On the other hill is little Birmingham and they speak Brummie .
English is the language of the town. The bars and restaurants are full of Brits, the local Greek Cypriots don’t come out to drink and eat out only on Sundays or when one of the restaurants treat them to a free meal ( they are all related to each other). There are Brits on the town council here and in areas of Paphos there are British mayors running the place.
Almost no one bothers to learn Greek, there is little point. In the main if you speak in Greek the locals will reply in English. This is not a new phenomenon when Lawrence Durrell the poet and writer whom I mentioned in several blogs from Greece arrived at Limassol on the boat to take up a teaching position on the island he used his fluent Greek to the customs officers. They all replied to everyone of his statements in English and he found it quite a fine game to continue to do this on the island always being replied to in English. He wrote a book Bitter Lemons about the island and his life here but eventually left in 1956 as the uprising against British rule and for union with Greece took hold. He recounts the Greek taxi driver on the way to the heavily defended airport telling him” the Greek though he fights the British, he really loves them. But he will have to go on killing them—with regret, even with affection.”
Walking here in Cyprus is a very different kettle of fish to walking in Puglia. In Puglia I walk on quiet country roads.
I pick figs from overhanging trees and from July feast on blackberries as well as collecting wild herbs and asparagus.
Cyprus is a lot more like a lunar landscape
There is far more traffic here ( all those Brits with two or three cars) so road walking is no fun but it is easy to take to the hills, up dusty tracks made by goat herders driving their 4 wheel trucks up to feed the livestock
These tracks wind their way around the various headlands but to really get off the beaten track it is better to emulate the goats themselves and take to their tracks that criss cross the area.
You need to keep some landmark in sight as these tracks can lead you around in circles, there ain’t much upstairs in goat’s heads it seems. However the views as you reach each headland can be worth all the effort.
In past years I walked with a ex Royal Marine colonel who had found many walks in his time here . He unfortunately has gone to that great walkway in the sky but I now know many of the best walks thanks to him. He had an hatred of snakes . It seems the Royal Marines spent lots of time jungle training in Borneo and given the inclement weather there many poisonous snakes would seek shelter in one or other of the Marine’s sleeping bags.
There are loads of very poisonous snakes in Cyprus, most will slither away as you approach or hide from you long before you see them but vipers are territorial and will come after you.
As I walked today I came across one. It looked dead lying prone in the middle of my pathway and indeed I wondered if maybe it was just the skin of a snake as I approached it.
But it was an hot day and it could well have just been basking . I took the camera out to give you a picture of it as it was very stout . This is the picture I intended to take but I have pinched it off the internet
That is the type it was and weirdly pretty much how it was lying. As I focused I kicked a small rock at the prone and what I thought lifeless body.
Well up it came into the attack position and took a lunge at me. This is the actual shot I got for you
as I took to my heels and ran. The snake stood it’s ground no retreat but didn’t give chase. I walked a little more carefully after that as I waited for my heart to stop pounding.
This is what the blurb says about the little critter on the web
The blunt-nosed viper (Vipera Lebetina)
RISK: High, Dangerous and highly poisonous. Its teeth remain embedded in the tissue and the movements of the jaw pump large amounts of poison into the wound. If bitten it is imperative that medical attention is sought from a Doctor or Hospital immediately.
Identification: A stout snake with a total length up to 130-180 cm, the most stout and dangerous snake species of Cyprus. Top of the head covered with small, keeled scales, including over the eyes.