Saturday, 6 December 2014

Aphrodite's Path, Cyprus


The trail, Aphrodite's Path, is in the south east of Cyprus, near Cape Greco, a slender promontory. The path follows the coast, the water in the bay luminous turquoise patches among darker blue.


A dragonfly perches on the top of the spiny plant

Spiny bushes, some of which are named, inscribed on sugar barley coloured stones. There's Spiny Box, Cyprus Boseo, that is endemic, so the sign says, a Spiny Lotus, a Joint Pine, and an Exotic Pine as well as the familiar trailing leaves ofeucalyptus.


The scent of dried pine needles mixed perhaps with box and wild thyme and other vegetation, pervades the air.


Patches of red soil are damp and muddy from the morning's rain and nearer Konnos beach, the soil is clay, a greyish yellow and sticks to my sandals, so my heels get steadily higher, and my feet heavier. From time to time  I have to scrape the soil off, on large stones.

The trail tends to metamorphose, from Ariadne's Path, to the Konnos - Agioi Anargyri, coast trail, (which is also signposted as the E4), to the Sea Cave path.


On the map it is a loop but I take the same path back from Konnos beach, past the little church, Agioi Anargyri, and up towards the small road leading to the less small road where the bus comes along. Cross over the small road onto what is signposted as Ariadne's path – but here I seem to have gone wrong and should have followed the coast rather than gone uphill. The way I went, I arrived at a military base. A tiny church was part of the base, all enclosed in barbed wire, and with the buildings painted green, to blend in with all the shades of nature. A sign warned against taking photographs. I turned back, headed downhill again, and came out close to the sea,


Military base and church

 though it wasn't possible to actually touch it as the rocks are a few metres above it. Besides, I was concerned about the time or rather, the time before the sun went down. I knew from yesterday that the light blushes and darkens by 4 pm. Just before that, the shadows turn gymnast, they stretch athletic limbs, wrap the ground in their fierce pointed embrace, like sudden flags of spiny vegetation sprung from the rain or the lightning and heading fast as dark lizards, to the sea or to the land's horizon. And the sun, so recently poised high in the sky, begins its descent, sliding as if down a water course, picking up speed, in its fiery freefall until it turns the sky above the water crimson, splashing it with red light, its blaze of farewell. No lingering soft twilight here.


I turn back, close to the rocky cliffs with their roughly formed faces looking out to sea. But just beyond the striated rock, there is a bay with a feeling of enchantment, the grey spiny plants almost purple in the beginning change of light, almost blue, in this hollow

and one could imagine a goddess coming here, fresh from sea foam, coming to terms with honeycombs of rock, and the shadows of the cliffs hurling themselves across the flat spit of land below the army base. A strange combination here, of goddess and parade ground of the military, sharing the same peninsula as if the army was on the lookout for divine beings coming ashore with orders to intercept whoever might attempt a landing from the sea. But Aphrodite has learned the art of simulation and near invisibility. The grove with the plants so light grey they imitate sea foam above blue waves, has wrapped her in its presence and the army continues their manoeuvres and their lookout and their search, desultory in this warm afternoon, in front of the small church, its white walls reflecting sunlight as Helios pauses at his  zenith before beginning his descent.