November 30, 2023

By Margaret Sheard …..

We met up with Chris and Fred (alias Kuzey Kibris and Nord Zypern) for breakfast at the Osman Ağa Kultűr Evi in Iskele and, as on our previous visit, there was a wonderful selection of Turkish Cypriot cuisine.  It was a warm sunny day and it was nice to see people at tables outside as well as inside.  The restaurant was extremely busy but we had a chance to have a quick word with Emine Sutcu and she said the museum is not yet completed but she will let us know when it is and we can then go along and write about this additional bonus to the restaurant, and of course have another lovely breakfast!

So where should we head for today?   We had told Chris and Fred about the Nitovikla Garden Hotel and its cave and although they knew of it they had never visited so this is where we decided to go for the afternoon.

The Nitovikla Garden Hotel is in Kumyali and is run by Zekai Altan and his wife Zader.  We were made very welcome even though,  with the help of Erkan Kılıç,  they were busy with a group of students from Atleks Sanverler Orta Okulu in Nicosia, but Zekai found time to sit and talk with us.   The students had 2 days/1 night at Nitovikla learning about the traditional Cypriot way of life and when we arrived they were at the end of their training and were about to be awarded certificates.  Kuzey, Fred and myself were asked to present some of the certificates while Chris was busy taking photographs.

During a meal there had been cakes, one of which contained a coin and the lucky person was then made Queen and she had to choose her King, then they were crowned with pretty floral crowns.  I am not sure if this is a tradition or not but it was all very nice for the group and we enjoyed it as well.

Then came the certificate awards. We are showing the recipients below and the photos will also be sent to Zerrin Özverel (assistant to the Headmaster) so the students will be able to see them and remember their time at Nitovikla.

During their 2-day training the students mastered the following :-

Making :

  • Cyprus bread in a stone oven
  • Cyprus “DIBEK” coffee
  • Dribidez (Delikli) Bidda
  • Cyprus Cake in Forma
  • Traditional hand-made “Gullurugya”
  • Traditional hand-made Macaroni (Pasta)

Also they learned :

  • How to use a Hand Mill
  • How to make Olive Oil and Eco/Agro Tourism Model.

We were then able to show Chris and Fred around to see the old artefacts in what was previously a Priest’s house, a 450 year old building, and also the cave which is used for functions, training etc. and the church which stands opposite the hotel, of which Zekai and Kader are caretakers.

Kuzey has a Facebook friend who spends a lot of time at Nitovikla when she visits North Cyprus and Zekai said yes she is a regular visitor and she has always enjoyed helping in the garden and now has an area of her own which is called Ursula Schwinn’s Garden.  What a small world it is.

Zekai is passionate about preserving the heritage, history and culture of North Cyprus and he has written many articles and also had a new book launched last year, this is in Turkish but he is working on a version in English and he is hoping this will be completed in April.  I had offered some time ago to proof read this for him so I am looking forward to working on the English version and spending some time at Nitovikla again.

When we were leaving Kuzey asked Zekai about another cave he had heard about in the area and Zekai knows the cave, which sounds very interesting, and he kindly offered to show it to them when he and Fred are next in the area, so this will hopefully be another story from Chris and Fred when they eventually discover yet another piece of Cyprus history.

To see my original article about Nitovikla Garden Hotel click here

Here are pictures of certificates being presented to the students.

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