Whenever I think of Cyprus, I think of the color blue.
The bold, impossible to ignore blue of the sky in the coastal town of Limassol; a stark contrast against the blindingly white sands and stones in the Greek ruins we visited.
The bright blue of the woven Nicaraguan wrap-around skirt, which Ana lent and then let me kept, because the jeans I brought from wintry The Hague suddenly became too suffocating to wear.
The audacious blue door, an absolute showstopper, we encountered on our way to Limassol’s ancient castle and tombs.
The pale blue of my dress, worn while sipping the syrupy sweet Cypriot wine and playing charades in the hotel lobby with people who were strangers a year before, and has now felt as familiar as cousins who grew up together.
But most of all, I remember the blue water of Aphrodite’s Rock, speckled with white foam from the gently splashing waves. “This is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and therefore it has magical powers,” our driver told us. “If a woman swims naked in the cove, she will become a virgin once more, and any man who does it will be granted eternal youth.”
All of us laughed, the girls and the boys. “Why would any woman want to be a virgin again?” asked one of the girls. “Why assume we wouldn’t prefer eternal youth instead?”
“And why tell the story at all?” asked one of the boys. “It will be fairly easy for men to swim naked, but why assume any woman would be crazy enough to try that?”
The girls stared at each other and broke into laughter once more. The boys stopped laughing, catching the mischiveous glint in the girls’ eyes. All of us were itching to get into the water, either to just dip our toes or to swim with all our might, but to be children of Aphrodite or not, that was the question.
At that moment, I thought of a dandelion. It was as if we were its florets, individual strands that momentarily came together to create the beautiful wispy flower, but will soon enough be blown to all corners of the earth by the wind. We might not stay together that much longer, but at that moment, I was grateful that we had the chance to be together at all.
In the end, all of us ran into the welcoming arms of Aphrodite’s birthplace. We came into the sea in our jeans and dresses and bikinis, some dipped their toes while others let the water splashed all the way to their shoulders. As for whether any of us swam naked or not – well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Gypsytoes – of a trip in November 2010
It’s been three years, my dears, but it still feels like yesterday.