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May 22, 2002

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Cyprus seems more Greek than independent. We rented a car because it's easy to cover a large bit of this island if you have your own transport. Roads are good but the public bus system is slow and infrequent. We drove along the southern coast before heading into the mountainous interior. We passed small villages of red roofed houses surrounded by rocky farmland. Pine forests appear as we drove up the mountains of the Troodos Massif. The weather turned cool. The mountains contain many frescoed monasteries. We visited the most famous: Kykkos, where they sell their own liquor outside of its gates - holy wine and their own brand of ouzo or local moonshine. Inside Kykkos stands an icon of the Virgin Mary, painted by St Luke the Apostle. Nearby this monastery you can visit Bishop Makarios's tomb, Cyprus's most famed leader of this century, and regard the top of Mt Olympus (1952 meters) in the distance.
This is Lefkosia, capital of Cyprus. Lefkosia stands as the world's last "divided" capital. A concrete, barbed-wire wall runs through the city's center and divides Turkish North from Greek South. The Greek Cypriots let tourists visit the Turkish side for a day (not vice versa). They won't let you take your luggage and if you don't return by 5:00 PM they blacklist your name and may not let you into the country again. We walked to the Greek border post, signed our names and read the anti-Turkish propaganda, then walked 100 meters across a UN patrolled zone to the Turkish side to repeat the process, this time reading anti-Greek propaganda.