By Margaret Sheard…..
We met Zekai Altan some 2 years ago and have had the pleasure of staying at his lovely eco friendly Nitovikla Hotel in Kumyali, it was only for a weekend but such a relaxing experience. Since then we have kept in contact with Zekai and were pleased when he invited us to the launch of his new book Gizemli Kıbrıs (Mysterious Cyprus) which was held at the Merit Hotel in Lefkoşa on Thursday 8th September. Zekai was accompanied by his wife Kader, and we noted the arrival of his one year old grandson for this very special occasion.
The event was attended by President Akıncı and his wife Meryl as well as The Minister of Health – Faiz Suçuoğlu, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment – Ismet Esenyel, Ersin Tatar, Mehmetçik Mayor – Cemil Sarıçizmeli, and also many other familiar well-known faces who we have met many times previously.
As the guests were arriving we were entertained with some lovely violin music played by Aytaç Çağın and there were also 3 ladies from Kumyali who were demonstrating their expertise with basketwork and wool spinning which was very interesting to watch.
We were then treated to a film showing Zekai and his efforts to promote eco-tourism and areas of the Karpaz with traditional handicrafts and eco-friendly plants growing naturally which would eventually be used in typical Cypriot cuisine. The whole evening was conducted in Turkish so we were a little lost with the dialogue but it was plain to see the importance of promoting the natural beauty of the Karpaz region and the traditional Cypriot culture from the aspect of tourism.
The introductions during the event were made by Turkish Cypriot Broadcaster Hüseyin Kanatlı and there were a number of speeches made, including President Mustafa Akıncı, Faiz Suçuoğlu, Ismet Esenyel and of course Zekai Altan who talked about his special interest in tourism and at Nitovikla living and promoting the authentic life and culture of true Cypriots. He said “Tourists do not come here to see 10-storey concrete buildings. They already see this in their own countries but the authenticity of the Karpaz will lure them all the time”. President Akıncı in his speech pointed out the need to support eco-tourism and wished Zekai success.
After the departure of the President, Zekai settled down to book-signing and judging by the long queue I expect he was there for a long time after we too took our leave.
Zekai’s book is in the Turkish language but he will be producing it in English in the near future. I have seen a draft of the English version and offered to help with proof-reading this very intriguing account of Cyprus heritage for him so I will also be eagerly looking forward to the launch of this book and writing a review for our worldwide readership.