Posts

Showing posts from 2011

I'm so proud of my cousins!!

Image
'Tris Je o Koukos' were playing last night. Because I've been away from Cyprus, I have missed my cousins performing but now I'm making up for lost time by going to see them play whenever I can. 
The venue is small but the acoustics was good. The place was packed so that some people were standing or sitting on the steps. The close proximity, the old gas heater that sucked the oxygen out of the air, the relaxed atmosphere and the drinks aided the wanders of the mind to the past, to the old hashish-scented coffee-shops in Piraeus, across the Aegean sea, to the coast of Asia Minor and over Istanbul.

I don't know much about the music they play, the 'Music of the Eastern Mediterranean'. Some of it is easy to listen to but most of it is not. It is difficult, because it appeals to the darker sides of our soul, and explores things it pains us to look into. 
My cousin Maria plays the Oud. Its sound fills up the room and for me it is like the earth: without it, the mu…

Goose perspective

Image
So beautiful! Happy New Year everyone! 

Tris Elies

Image
Recently, we visited Tris Elies, a village nestled in a corner of the Troodos mountains. We stayed in an agrotourist lodge run by a really cool lady called kiria Androulla, who renovated an old estate house into a beautiful traditional haven of peace and serenity.
This is an area of Troodos I had never really explored before. It is here that my great-grandfather travelled to from Lefkosia with his daughter, riding on the back of a donkey through the villages of Kalopanagiotis, Kaminarka, Tris Elies, to buy walnut wood for his carpentry work.
The village was very quiet. There are only a few old people still living there. 
From our balcony, they looked like little cracked brushtrokes on a quaint wintry backdrop: the village priest harvesting the olives from the trees in the church courtyard, the plump old lady with her flowey headscarf carrying a massive log on her shoulder, the few shrunken, bent old women and men sitting inside the coffeshop, the mustashioed grocer unlock…

Olive picking

Image
My father and I wanted to learn more about olive-picking. We decided to harvest the olives from the trees my grandfather planted 30 years ago in the small field behind his house in the village. My granfather was not a farmer; he was a superintendent in constructions. The family owned a small number of vine fields which were cared for by my grandmother while she was still healthy and the village was generally a wine-producing and apple-producing village.

Therefore, while my father knows a lot of things about constructions, some things about apples and a few things about wine-making, he knows very little about olives.What is more, my grandfather died before having the chance to witness the trees grow and bear fruit, and they have been left there to their own devices for all these years, feeding the blackbirds and the worms and growing old, grumpy and dishevelled. 
So last week, we set out to see what we could do. Old skool. We had no nets so we used sheets and old tents to catch the ol…

Indonesia: Last email

28th Oct:

Hello!

This is my last email from Indonesia. I have two weeks left and hopefully I will be spending them away from the computer and the internet, of which I have been saturated with lately!
My latest and most exciting news is that I have had my first tropical disease! After my exciting adventure with my first parasitic worm for two months (that's how long it took me to realise that the growing itchy trails on my skin were actually a microscopic worm happily progressing in life by eating away at my flesh), an experience which I had looked forward to ever since taking a parasitology course in third year, I have contracted my first mosquito-borne virus: Dengue Fever. 
It sounds like something out of a colonial account of life in the East Indies, and it's shit. As the name suggests, Dengue gives you fever, and makes you feel like you've been run over by several trucks. It's not fatal but the severity varies between different people according to the strain and your i…

Indonesia: Salvador

Image
Impressions from my first orangutan follow (Sabangau Forest, 07/08/2011):

The other day, I had the chance to follow a wild orang-utan with Ben, who’s doing his PhD on male orang-utan home ranges. We were following Salvador, a large flanged male who is doing well for himself in the forest hierarchy.
We woke up at 4am and walked in the dark to find him sleeping in his nest where Ben had left him the previous evening.
I hadn’t realised how close to him we were or how low the nest was until it became light. With a crashing sound, he emerged from the leaves, a massive bulk of orange hair and cheekpads.
To travel about in the canopy, the orang-utan uses his weight to bend the tree he is on and reach out to grab onto the adjacent one-once he has moved onto the next tree, he releases his grip, sending the bent tree springing back into place, with a tremendous tremble and shake of the branches and leaves.
Salvador quickly left his nest, swaying from tree to tree. He soon came across a big aha…

Indonesia: Chasing Monkeys

Image
The email I sent out on 27thSep:
Hi y'all.
At the moment, I am busy helping people out with primate follows (in other words, i am chasing monkeys).
Though the data we collect is essentially the same, every primate species is different. Every primate is unique, and so is every follow. I love gibbons because they are so elegant when traveling through the canopy, and their song is otherworldly. I love led langurs because they are cheeky and have really long and funky tails. Lastly, I love the orang-utans because they are so impressive and peaceful and beautiful.
Though we write down codes and numbers to describe their behaviour, I can't help looking at the animals from Lilia's perspective instead of a scientific one sometimes and empathising strongly with some of the things I see.

My favourite moment so far has got to be during a gibbon follow, a week ago. Gibbons are apes, like us, and they form monogamous pair bonds. They have territories and they defend them with singing. We…

Indonesia: Sulawesi

Image
My email from Sulawesi (11th Sep):

Hi y’all. Loads of things have happened here since my last email: a wonderful trip to Tanjung Putting National Park, the departure of my volunteers, the flaring up of fires all over Kalimantan that made the air choky-smoky and the moon red, the eventful arrival of a baby bear in camp, my first very close encounter with a wild male orangutan, my introduction to bird surveys and the microscopic world of ants and my trip to Sulawesi for a week and a half with Eric, a friend from Sabangau. 
I am now still in Sulawesi, and I can't really believe the amount of things I have experienced in a few days. I visited Torajaland, a place where people treat their death with as much importance as they treat their life, spending vast amounts of energy and money in their funerals and their burial sites. I attended a funeral ceremony in the most stunning of landscapes, among mountain lines and valleys streching out with rice paddies strewn with the wonderfully strang…

Indonesia: Megarice

Image
From time to time, I will be posting some of my thoughts from and about my time in Indonesia. Some of them you will have read in my emails, some others I will be sharing for the first time. This is the first email I sent out (30thJuly): 
Hi y´all. I got the chance to use the internet for a while so I thought I´d send a general email to let everyone know that I´ve survived the bureaucratic hell in Jakarta (that even Douglas Adams would´ve probably found hard to humour) and I´m doing great!
I spent last week away from our beautiful base camp at Sabangau forest, where we are, constantly it seems, surrounded by orangutans, kelasi (red langurs), gibbons, sunbears, birds and cats ( a clouded leopard was seen by staff sleeping in front of our lab the other day!). Trees are in fruit here now so Sabangau is like a small paradise. 
To witness the other side of the story, the one where things go wrong, we left our camp to go to a massive area of destroyed forest. This is Megarice, the horrific drea…