This is the pan handle region of the island - the long bit which extends out towards the Eastern Mediterranean and this is a sparsely populated area which holds some of the few Greek Cypriots who refused to leave their land and houses when the Turkish army moved into these areas in 1974. They were the brave ones who stayed, who continue to live there and plough the land, attend their church and live their lives. They endured considerable hardship and over the years their numbers diminished as the younger people went to the south of the island in search of jobs and a better life. This is the area we have come to visit and we travel up a new highway but on either side miles and miles of empty scrubland. We stop at bays, landmarks and destroyed churches to remind ourselves at once of the beauty, the futility of war and the endurance of the human spirit.
We stayed at a small resort on a beautiful cove run by an enterprising Kurd. He greets us happily and some of his staff speak a smattering of Greek. Much better than our Turkish. We are made to feel welcome and the breakfasts are a feast. The area around Ayios Philon is rocky and rough, with some magnificent monuments and churches which stand proudly close to the sea. They once welcomed congregations of a populated and sea faring people. Now they lie, ruined and forlorn.
This picture taken from the Ring of Christ. com.
Travelling through the villages we see the minarets standing side by side to the Greek Orthodox churches and the mixed villages housing both communities. We reach the south side of the pan handle and there stretching for miles are pristine white sandy beaches and the most welcoming seas. The tourists are few, the establishments almost primitive and I am told soon to be removed from this area completely as it will come under the protection of a nature reserve, but for us today it offered the glaring intensity of the sun, the blistering heat of the white sand, a swim of several kilometres and some welcome food.
Travelling back towards Larnaca however we go through the area of Boyazi, once a sleepy suburb of Famagusta which when I was growing up was sparsely populated. Now a bustling town supporting the University of the Eastern Mediterranean as they call it. I look around me, almost incredulous about how much this area has changed compared to the undisturbed area we have come from and know that the many attempts over the years to solve the division of Cyprus, have become harder as each year goes by. Its 42 years since 1974. You cannot unpick this, ignore it or sweep it under the carpet. Every year that goes by will mean less people left who go back far enough to pursue the dream of a reunited Cyprus. And for those young ones, born since then, a homeland in half is what they come to know.
Will that be their future ?