March 23, 2023

Winter thoughts from A A Wisley….

Cyprus seasons are Spring, Summer, Second Spring, and Winter.  By November the rains have washed clean the trees and re-animated the parched soil which bursts into new green growth. The sunshine is still warm on the skin and even if the air is a little chilled I can snuggle into a light walking jacket. My dogs prefer these cooler days to the searing heat of summer. That also means that I do not need to take them walking at some unearthly hour of the morning to avoid the sweltering temperatures.

After the overnight rain, today began brightly and the dogs were jumping around excitedly in expectation of their daily exploration of all the sights, sounds, and smells that our walk would take them to. We stepped through the front gate onto a muddy ooze seeping down from the nearby building site into what is our road. The dogs didn’t care and we soon left the bog behind us when we passed on to the old coast road.  Here it meanders alongside the cliff tops by the sea. There was only the faintest of breezes and the mobile sea seemed to be breathing gently, sparkling in the morning sun. Whilst I enjoyed the view of the green mountains to one side, the pale blue sky, patched with little fluffy clouds, above, and the sea on the other side the dogs snuffled around happily in the bushy verges of the road searching for new smells and abandoned food containers.

Rounding the first corner we came upon a patch of vibrant blue amongst the green hedgerow. It was a pile of swimming pool tiles dumped by a well-known local firm that had been renovating a nearby swimming pool. Next to it were discarded cement bags and a pile of rubble left by the Municipality after it had installed a water main which had necessitated the destruction and reconstruction of a pavement. Every few dozen metres along the way there were piles of garden and plastic waste dumped on the cliff edge by local garden maintenance firms obviously forgetful of the advice about defecating on your own doorstep.  Big lorries had even reversed to the clifftop to dump large piles of branches, breaking through flimsy barriers aimed at preventing them from doing so. Just here there is also a “frozen waterfall” down the face of the cliff made of cement slurry discarded by a construction vehicle, years ago, and now a permanent scar of the cliff face and which will have to wait until the cliff has been eroded for its effacement.

A hundred metres on, past all the modern housing, the view opens up over an impressive ravine, one of many in this part of the northern coast. The ravine has been dammed, at one end, by earthworks that support the new coast road but the other end widens out onto the beach. This delta is a  natural marshland. A  plantation of bamboo flourishes there, in the wettest part,  native plants fill other niches.  It is home to every imaginable form of croaking amphibian and their winged and slithering predators. It also holds a dozen incomplete concrete shells of illegally built houses and flats, the construction of which was abandoned 15 years ago. What was once a beautiful natural wetland is now a permanently ugly eyesore.

The old Coast Road winds around the sides of the ravine,  snaking past the road dam on its way downhill to the shingle beach. Continuing towards the earthen “dam” we see more heaps of garden rubbish, plastic and building material which have been tipped into the ravine by the lorry-load, disfiguring the view and obliterating the plants and bushes which used to spring from its sides. An old bridge passes over the stream that runs from the hills, in very rainy weather, to feed the wetlands.  This is the favourite spot for a glazier from the nearby village to dump old glass doors and windows.  The bamboo quickly hides his desecrations. Nearly all the ravines in this area have been so “glazed”.  A little further on is the area favoured by pool cleaning companies to leave their empty chlorine containers and plastic bidons of poisons of one kind or another. Here too, local farmers stuff their empty, indestructible, polypropylene,  seed bags into the hedges. In all, there may be 35 heaps of garden and builders spoil along the way.

A few steps further on, hanging over the steep banks of the ravine, are a couple of very large stormwater pipes which drain the housing development above the old road.  When it rains hard these pipes act as high-powered hoses washing away the hillside and piling mud and rubble onto the track below, often blocking it. Nearby, on the roadside, is a pile of rotten wood which has been abandoned after some repair works on the development.

At last, the dogs and I reach the beach where, very often, the dogs meet up with their pals and romp on the banks of seaweed or in the sea itself, heedless of the “Spring” temperature. Apart from the plastic blocks, which are remains of a jet ski pontoon swept onto the shore by winter storms, most of the rubbish on the beach has drifted in from Syria and Lebanon. Lurking under the rubbish, though, are large, solidified “cow-pats” of concrete left by construction lorries voiding their tanks onto the beach as if seized by a convulsion of dysentery.  Access from the new main road is easy here, which has allowed other construction vehicles to dump mountains of excavated soil and rubble behind the beach.

At the far end of this little bay, which is our point of turn and return, the sandy area behind the shoreline is dotted with extinct campfires, food containers, beer cans, and bottles, and even a portable tv and fridge. Some picnickers have collected their rubbish into plastic bags which have then been thrown into the bushes or just abandoned to be torn to pieces by stray dogs. A few times volunteers have cleaned this area completely only for it to be re-mired by the following weekend. The stinking evidence of a lack of toilet facilities is everywhere but this only delights the sensitive noses of the dogs.

We haven’t come far, maybe two kilometres, but we can enjoy all this pollution again on the return leg of our morning’s walk. Our little corner of “Heaven on Earth” is really no more than a squalid rubbish tip that even the winter sun cannot improve.

Does nobody care?

1 thought on “A Stroll Down Midden Lane in Northern Cyprus

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