Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell

Author:Lawrence Durrell
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC

* Cypress Handbook, 1919.

Chapter Eight: The Winds of Promise

The fox in her sleep dreams always of chickens.

If the baby doesn’t cry, Mother won’t suckle.

One does not go to Hell to light a cigarette.

—Cypriot Greek Proverbs

MY APPOINTMENT, SOMEWHAT to my surprise, was ratified in the late spring, and was bidden to the Government Lodge in Troodos for my first meeting with the Governor. Marie elected to drive me up the mountain switchback as her racing car made much better time than mine on the steep gradients, and we set off one faultless morning, to sweep across the Mesaoria towards the foothills before the sun had fully breasted the bastions of the Gothic range and set the dust rising from the brittle and arid soils in which, by high summer, nothing more would grow until the autumn rains. The ugliness of the plain was, so to speak, at the height of its beauty—a range of tones vibrating with the colors of damson, cigar-leaf, putty, and gold-leaf. Here and there upon a skyline, diminished by distance and somehow made the more significant for being so isolated and so small, a team of camels oozed across the dusty screen. Their riders wore colored turbans, spots of cobalt or crimson or that resonant dark blue—a vitreous marine blue—which is so characteristically Turkish in tone.

We ringed the black elephantine bastions of Nicosia, stopping only to buy a bag of yellow cherries, and set off like the wind across the plain once more, trailing our banner of dust, to where in the foothills the road began its harsh and sinuous ascent into the cool airs and oak forests once dedicated to Jove. We were in good heart, for despite the disquieting newspaper reports of demonstrations and speeches, rumors were in the air of new approaches, new assessments.

The mountain villages are beautiful—and today Kakopetria, for example, folded in upon itself, coiling round the rim of a mountain torrent, shaded by enormous white poplars, looked hauntingly peaceful; but higher up, the rocky banality of the range is unrelieved by any man-made features—while a village like Amiandos made us catch our breath in pain. It lies against the side of a mountain which has been clumsily raped. The houses, factories, and shacks are powdered white as if after a heavy snowfall; mounds of white snow rise in every direction, filling the cool still airs of the mountain with the thin dust of asbestos. Men and women walked about in this moon-landscape, powdered into ghoulish insignificance by the dust. A man with a white wig and white moustache shouted “Hullo” as we passed.

The little lodge that Rimbaud built lies, as do most of the Government quarters, in an unhealthy-looking ravine choked with pines, and denied any one of the thousand magnificent views in which the range abounds. It seemed like an H.Q. carefully chosen against the fear of air attack. The building itself has nothing to commend it except the memory of its author whose work is commemorated in a finely


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