North Cyprus Orchid Walk 2014
By Margaret Sheard
Sunday 23rd February dawned with a beautiful sunny day, perfect for the KAV 2014 Orchid Walk which again this year was from Kozanköy to Karşiyaka, way up in the mountains with superb scenery and breathtaking views.
We made our way to Kozanköy, taking in the route the walkers would be following and, although we were not able to walk ourselves, I was noting the route with interest as being a former “rambler” I always had problems making my way uphill. The Orchid Walk route started with quite a long uphill stretch but after about the halfway point it is all downhill. Maybe I will try and do it myself one day.
We parked the car just outside the village just in time to see the first group of walkers emerging with their bright red balloons, then came more and more and what a wonderful sight it was, a mass of people and balloons. As the walkers were passing by we saw many familiar faces, everyone smiling and in good spirits for the long walk in front of them. Among the walkers was the Founder of KAV, Dr Mustafa Camgöz, who does so much for cancer research.
While we were watching all the walkers passing, a car pulled up and Sandra Preece and her husband stopped to talk to us. Sandra said she did the walk last year and was so disappointed that she was not able to do it again this year due to a medical problem and an allergic reaction to the medication which had made it impossible for her to participate. We had a chat and then they continued on their journey following the walkers.
After a tour around the village, which I had never visited before, we started to make our way back along the route and eventually caught up with most of the walkers at the rest area where there was a chance to have a picnic or have some of the local foodstuffs which were on offer. There were also some of the walkers playing musical instruments so there was a wonderful atmosphere. After a well-earned break they would be pressing on but we decided to make our way to the finishing point at the school in Karşiyaka so we could witness these loyal supporters finally reaching their destination. On our way up to the rest area we were flagged down by a lady who, together with her brother, was pushing their mother in a wheelchair. We bundled the lady and her mother into the car and took them to the rest area and the brother continued walking with a now empty wheelchair. The brother made his way to the rest area and Chris found them all together and feeling fine. We didn’t see them again but assume they finished the walk together.
One of the people we had noticed among the crowd of walkers was Rauf. He is 98 years old, he comes from Yesilköy in the Karpaz,and this was his third walk. What an achievement, he made me feel quite ashamed, but he is obviously a lot fitter than I am! We met up with him again at the finish and asked if he would do the walk again next year – his answer was “insallah” (God willing). We also met his 2 daughters, they are so proud of their father and said he is still very independent.
When we arrived at the school there were in fact some of the walkers already there so there were many people milling around, no doubt recounting how the walk went for them. We met Maria Chappell who has recently joined KAV and is giving a lot of support for fundraising in North Cyprus. Also Hatice Kerimgil was there to greet the walkers and ensure that the final ceremony went smoothly. We also spotted Ersin Tatar, the previous Finance Minister and had a quick word with him. Chris had met Mr Tatar when he walked in the Çatalkőy Orchid Walk and this year he had done the walk and despite medical attention last year, he said he was very well and had no problems with the route.
Before long there was a huge throng of people in the schoolyard and music started playing with dancing from various groups for everyone to enjoy.
Dr Camgöz gave a speech thanking everyone for their support and on the countdown of 3, 2, 1, the balloons were released into the sky with the sounds of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” playing. What a wonderful sight and atmosphere this was.