Monday, September 26, 2011

GB Rises from the Dead

... well not really dead. More of an involuntary hibernation.

I can't believe it's been more than a year since I've last posted, and as much as I'd like to blame a certain "some one" (well, maybe I will ...), I know that it's been a tough year for that certain "some one". That along with a few misadventures along the way have conspired to put my correspondence on the back burner. For a brief period I began looking for a replacement - not for my two bipedal attendants as attendants per se - but for the one who claims to be a writer. It turns out that the work ethic in these parts make her look like a Puritan, so I'm stuck with her for the time being.

In any case, last month I took my bipedals to the island of Cyprus (this series of misadventures regarding the female bipedal did make me feel a tidge sorry for her - bears are nothing if not compassionate). As a Canadian bear (I started my career as an International Fashion Model with Canadian designer Alfred Sung), I always think of Cyprus in terms of the Turkish invasion of the island in the 70's and their occupation, as well as the Canadian peacekeepers who went there. It must be the freelance Goodwill Ambassador in me, but I'll save that for another post.

West of Syr
ia, east of Greece, north of Egypt, and south of Turkey, Cyprus is only an hour and a half or so from Kurdistan, so it was the perfect getaway for me and my attendants. But humankind (and bears) have been mucking about Cyprus - the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean (my favourite sea!) - for over 10,000 years. It's also been invaded, conquered, and ruled by foreign powers such as the the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Persians, the Venetians, the Ottomans, the British, and the Turks, to say the least. In fact, independence didn't come until 1960. Why you humans can't be satisfied with what you have and insist on taking what isn't yours defies logic. You'd never catch a bear doing that.

Cyprus has several famous sons but one of the best known is Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (just to distinguish him from the other Lazaruses). I guess he isn't so much a famous son as a famous ex-pat (like me). Legend has it that after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus decided to pack up (probably lots of nasty associations with his home town, being dead and all for four days) and move to Larnaca. I can't say that I blame him. he became a bishop and eventually died (again) and was buried in the church which took its name from him: Agios Lazaros (that's me at the church, top left). Some 1200 years ago, his tomb was found and on it was written "Lazarus, Bishop of Larnaca. Four days dead. Friend of Jesus." That pretty much sums it up, don't you think?

We spent some of our time hopping about the
island, but today I'll just talk about Larnaca. Embraced by white sands and turquoise water, Larnaca - the 3rd largest city on this 3rd largest island in the Med - is also very close to a salt lake, and if you're lucky, you can coordinate your visit to be with the flamingos that winter there. We weren't so lucky. But we did find some in town (above, right) although I'm pretty sure flamingos aren't normally blue and purple and yellow, but as a former international fashion model, their sense of colour and panache were quite pleasing to my eye.

Because Larnaca is a former Ottoman (the empire, not the footstool) town, there is a mosque near the Turkish quarter known as the Grand Mosque (Buyuk Camii, above left). Like lots of Ottoman mosques, it used to be a church (Latin Holy Cross Church in fact) but was converted into a mosque. Some 5 kilometres outside of town is the tomb of Umm Haram who was the Prophet Mohammad's foster mother. She apparently died there while accompanying the Arab invaders in the 7th century. We decided not to make the trek out there because we wanted to go to the beach that day. We pretty much went to the beach every day. The female bipedal was pretty fragile.

Next to the mosque stands a fortress (above right) which looks over the Mediterranean. If I were to build a fortress – or a tree house for that matter – that’s exactly where I’d build it. Guidebooks will tell you that it was built by the Ottoman Turks in 1625, but ask a Greek Cypriot and they’ll tell you that it was actually built more than 200 years before that by Jacques I de Lusignan (who would go on to become the sort of King of Jerusalem) and rebuilt later by the Turks. The British used it as a prison and we saw the execution chamber where people where hanged. It made the grey felt on my arms stand on end. Although there isn’t a whole lot to see, you can wander about the inner garden and look at menacing cannons that probably killed a lot of people.

As I mentioned earlier, we spent a great deal of time at the beach. For 6 euros a day, you can rent two beach beds (I had to share) and an umbrella, and swim, sunbathe, or watch the three thousand planes landing or taking off (the airport is only 4 km. outside of town). My favourite beach bed provider was George’s (below, centre). If you go there, tell him Grey Bear sent you.

Across from the beach are dozens of bars and restaurants and most will deliver to the beach. It was so wonderful being back in the land of customer service. My favourite was a hole-in-the-wall kind of place which made excellent tzatziki and served very cold beer. Life doesn’t get much better than excellent tzatziki and very cold beer. Unless you tossed in world peace and respect for the environment and the acceptance of not wearing white after Labour Day. My male bipedal was thrilled to try two Cypriot beers: Leon (as in lion – grrrr!) and Keo. Interestingly, last year, Keo was featured in an American porn film, much to the consternation of its largest shareholder - the Orthodox Church of Cyprus. What I want to know is how did the Orthodox Church of Cyprus find out?

In fact, I found that a cold Keo helped in mapping out our time in Cyprus. I have much more to talk about and now that I've (velvet-)whipped my female bipedal into shape, it shouldn't take a year to keep everyone posted. As a closing note, it bears noting (bears!) that I need to thank everyone for all of your e-mails, letters, cards, text messages, and skype-calls. You're all so kind to be concerned about me, but as you can see, I have resurfaced from hibernation mode - risen from the dead like Lazarus !


Anonymous said...

GB is back!! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!

Grey Bear said...

Thanks! I missed you Anonymous! You were one of my most faithful followers!

Anonymous said...

Oh, happy days you are back. You were greatly missed. I hope we hear from you on a more regular basis from now on. Did you miss your new 4 legged friend while you were off galavanting around the island?

Grey Bear said...

I did. By the way, her name is Celeste. She was really happy to see me. She didn't see that bothered about the bipedals being away, but she was all over me like a cheap suit. Not that I ever wear cheap suits.