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Mighty Aphrodite

By the eastern Mediterranean, an island sits as a melting pot of myth and culture

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By Kerry Tinga

BETWEEN MYTH AND REALITY The beauty of Cyprus lies in its vast mythological and cultural value

BETWEEN MYTH AND REALITY The beauty of Cyprus lies in its vast mythological and cultural value

A week at the mythological birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, pleasure, and beauty… Cyprus is somewhat of an anomaly in the European Union, and I say this as a compliment. An island nation in between continental Europe and the Middle East, it is a melting pot of culture and traditions.

Cyprus is also a place of significance for Christians with the tomb of Saint Lazarus in the town of Larnaca, a place of worship for the Saint of the Poor and the Sick. Across the Salt Lake is the Mosque Halal Sultan Tekke, which was where Muhammad’s aunt fell off a horse, another place of religious significance.

Over all, the island encompasses the essence of the Greek goddess. It is said that if you swim in Cyprus’ clear blue waters, and especially if you touch Petra tou Romiou (the rock that she supposedly came out from), you will be graced with eternal beauty.

I can imagine some of you readers thinking of booking your tickets right as you read this. Even if you do not get into the water, you can lie down on a sun bed and get some color, which I sorely need right now.

Aphrodite is the daughter of Uranus (which means “sky” in Greek), a Titan. She walked along the coast of Cyprus as flowers grew under her feet. She had the ability to make fighting couples fall in love again, and she had a belt that made people fall in love with the wearer. She had central roles in the mythological stories like the Iliad, where she kidnapped Helene of Troy to give to Paris as she was the most beautiful mortal who incidentally started the Trojan War; and Pygmalion, where she granted the wish of the sculptor for the sculpture he fell in love with to come to life.

Cyprus is also the location of the love story between Aphrodite and Adonis, a beautiful mortal she fell in love with when she saw him bathing in the Mediterranean. It is an island with a beautiful and long mythological history, and every beach or cliff I go to, there are brides and grooms taking professional photographs to commemorate their love.

This island is, as I said, one of pleasure and beauty, of basking in the sun with a beer in hand and a box of traditional pastries, and chilling with friends, one braiding my hair, while listening to all the languages around me—Greek, Turkish, English, French, Russian, you name it. The people are compassionate and filled with warmth and love, spiritually in line with Aphrodite, the beauty is external and internal.

I have been lucky to have met people at my time at university from all around the world, including some lovely girls from Cyprus who have let me stay in their homes and have shown me around their island, which I hope to do in return when they come to the Philippines.

I would say this is my first trip now that my exams have ended, and since it was my final year, I am unsure whether I could consider this a summer vacation. It is a great break to get out of London, especially with a group of friends, to get out of busy London that just reminds me right now of my exams, and now my search for employment.

In Cyprus, on this island, I am in search of something else, a love and passion for life with the spirit of Aphrodite by my side. With every major chapter of my life that closes, as a new one opens—I would consider finishing up my university degree a major chapter—there is a need for a moment of reflection and relaxation before rushing into things. This island provides a perfect location for just that.

The people on the island, both tourists and locals, walk around in flip flops and swimming trunks with a calm smile on their face, without much care in the world, just looking for where they could get a tan and a nice frappe. There are lovers as well as friends, and those who are just walking around loving this island and life in general, taking in the beauty and the pleasure Aphrodite’s island has to offer.

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