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Pole to Pole

Day 49: Rhodes to Limassol

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleWe drive west from Limassol beside plantations where oranges, lemons, avocados and kiwi fruit are grown in long orderly lines protected by avenues of eucalyptus and fir, then out onto higher ground where there is no shelter and the grapes on the vines are burnt brown by the sun. A fine Corinthian arch standing forlornly among thorn bushes, an amphitheatre which is still used for plays, and the remains of the Roman city of Curium lie next door to the ninety-nine square miles of the British Sovereign Area with its bobbies and post-boxes. (They were allowed only ninety-nine square miles because one hundred would have constituted an occupation.) For five miles, the road from Limassol to the west is effectively part of Britain and I suppose we could call this the eighth country we've passed through.

We are heading for a village near Paphos where Ariadne Kyriacu is today marrying Polycarpus Polycarpu. We have been invited to join the guests, which is not quite the honour it sounds, as there are likely to be over 3000 of them. A Cypriot wedding involves not only relatives but also the local community. It is not uncommon for a couple to advertise for guests in the newspaper. It's all seen as good for business.

A wedding is quite an affair, especially if it is, like the one today, traditional. About three o'clock the show gets on the road with a public shaving of the groom. Polycarpus is a modern Cypriot, a student in Germany, who looks very different from his beaming, ruddy-cheeked father who is the current head man of the village. He sits in the half-finished shell of the house that is being built for him and his wife, and with a brave smile submits to the attentions of an elderly barber who has a disconcerting habit of swatting flies away with his cut-throat razor.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 49
  • Country/sea: Cyprus
  • Place: Limassol
  • Book page no: 108

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