Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Nicosia, Cyprus Saints and the Country

I want you all to know how much we already love and appreciate the Nicosia, Cyprus Saints. They are so sweet and very helpful to us, and make our calling here much easier. We have Family Home Evening every Monday night and Friday night we have the Young Adults Activity Night.
They keep Elder Vargas on his toes to come up with new games, but I think they find his games fun and informative. He uses the games to teach Gospel principles and doctrine. This past Friday evening he created a scavenger hunt centered around the early Pioneers of the church. We found it interesting that they weren't very well informed about the Pioneers of '47. They know some things about them now though.
I cook dinner for the group on Friday evening, and this past week I made penne regate with a homemade meat sauce, rolls, green salad and ice cream cones of neopolitan ice cream for dessert. Everyone enjoyed the food. They were surprised that they liked my cooking, since this meal was decidedly American/ quasi-Italian. They weren't sure about the meal because they all come from so many different cultures, and because it was the first dinner I had prepared for them. It was a success - nothing left. I always feel if there's no food left then the meal was a success or they were starving to death! Ha! We had about 12 folks present for the meal, plus myself and Elder Vargas, so it was a fairly large group. This coming Friday I hope I can once again capture their taste buds.
Tonight was the first night we've been able to have our doors/windows open to let in the air. It's still fairly humid, but the heat has dwindled down significantly, probably somewhere in the high-mid-80's. Usually it 100 degrees F or better. I am thankful for this break, believe me. I worry about paying the electric bill for using the air-conditioning so much, but the heat/humidity is so high there's no living without it.
Let me share with you some information about Nicosia once more. I know I gave some historical facts in a previous blog, but I have a little more I'd like to share with you.
Nicosia, the capital city in the heart of Cyprus Without a doubt, the 1000 year old capital should be on every European visitor's agenda. It lies roughly in the center of the island, within easy reach of the other towns.
To walk through the old city is to step backwards in time. Narrow streets and old houses with ornate balconies jut from weather beaten sandstone walls, and craftsmen in small workshops practice trades unchanged for centuries.
Apart from the unique places of interest left from the ancient times with memories of many generations, the present Nicosia is a dynamic metropolitan city with a highly developed infrastructure and an attractive modern look. The uniqueness of such a combination makes the capital of Cyprus a place worth knowing and certainly a place worth visiting!
Nicosia (Greek Levkosía) the capital of Cyprus, is now Europe's only militarily divided city. One of the world's oldest cities, Nicosia was the center of an independent kingdom as early as the 7th century BC. Known in ancient times as Ledra, it came under Byzantine rule in the early 4th century AD and passed to Guy of Lusignan, the Latin king of Jerusalem, in 1192. The Lusignan kings held Nicosia until it was captured in 1489 by the Venetians. The city passed to the Ottoman Turks in 1571 and to the British in 1878. It was made capital of British-ruled Cyprus in 1925. Nicosia became the capital of independent Cyprus in 1960. The city has been divided into Turkish and Greek Cypriot zones since the Turkish invasion in 1974. Then there is the old town and Laiki Yitonia , where the paved areas with no cars and pavement cafe's is charming and full of character and a must for the visitor who wishes too see what the town looked like in years gone by. Nicosia , as all the other towns of Cyprus have grown very much larger , very quickly, and since the invasion in 1974 the population has boomed to 165,000. The growth has been outwards over the Mesaoria plain. We have been told because of the current Syrian conflict we can expect an influx of as many as 200,000 refugees into Cyprus within the next year or so. I have NO idea where they will live here, and with the unemployment rate of more than 10% currently there will certainly be no work for them.
In Platres and the surrounding villages you could find no greater contrast to a conventional beach holiday! These villages are situated high in the Troodos mountain range (we love the Troodos Mountains!) famous for its refreshing mountain air, magnificent pine, cedar and oak forests, orchids, lavender and mineral springs.
The old town is a picturesque fusion of 16th-century walls, pedestrian precincts, pavement cafes and squares, brimming with charm, character and sightseeing opportunities.The walls that completely encompass the Old City date from the Venetian occupation in the 16th century, and have a circumference of three miles (five km). Eleven heart-shaped bastions are interspersed along the walls, which have only three gates, in the north, south and east. One of the gates, the Famagusta Gate, has been restored and serves as the Lefkosia Municipal Cultural Centre, used for exhibitions, conferences, lectures and occasional performances. The gate’s vaulted passage leads on to the moat encircling the Old City, which has been planted to create a garden.

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