Our friend from the States couldn’t have come at a more perfect time to visit because Cyprus was on a three-day weekend holiday celebrating Kataklysmos. Click on the link if you missed yesterday’s post about what is Kataklysmos.
I imagined Kataklysmos to be a little bit of Mardi Gras mixed in a big water fight. Since Monday was a holiday, I thought the best day of the celebrations would have occurred on the 24th. We drove to Larnaca, where the largest Kataklysmos celebration was supposed to take place. Other harbor towns, such as Agia Napa, Limassol, and Paphos, also scheduled Kataklysmos festivities, but Larnaca was where we thought the party would be.
Before heading out to Larnaca, the men went on a second and successful attempt to get a Turkish style shave including the fire singe around the ears treatment.
Larnaca Boardwalk and Beaches
Once we arrived, we walked along another harbor filled with even more people on the beaches than Sunday’s trip to Paphos. Some iced drinks, a little play time at McDonald’s play area, and snacks helped us get some relief from the scorching heat.
As we walked along the boardwalk, we were wondering why there was no loud music or people firing water guns at one another. Prof talked with one of the locals to find that it was too hot to have any kind of party during the day. Come evening, that’s when the party begins. Great. There was no way we were going to wait around 6+ more hours to see Kataklysmos festivities.
(Photo Above: Prep work for music festivities done before the sun beat down at midday.)
(Photo Above: People flocking to the beaches, sun bathing, reading, playing games, and resting. Ahhh, this is how we should all be living life.)
Sadly, there weren’t people running around with water guns or water balloons trying to pelt unsuspecting people in a good old fashioned water fight. Next year, maybe Cyprus could add a kid-friendly water fight to the schedule in the morning hours for families and kids.
Church of St. Lazarus
Not too far from Larnaca’s boardwalk, we visited an old church, the Church of St. Lazarus. You know the familiar story in the Holy Bible of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, that’s the same guy. Lazarus became the first bishop in present-day Larnaca. According to Wikipedia, Lazarus was buried somewhere in Provence, France based on western traditions.
(Photo Above: Exterior view of Church of St. Lazarus. Prof said you can see architectural elements from the Venetian, Ottoman, and Byzantine eras. It’s one big beautiful mash up to me.)
Orthodox traditions also stated that Lazarus’ tomb was lost during Arab rule. His tomb was later found and then transferred to Constantinople in 898. During the 13th century, his tomb was looted during the Fourth Crusade. It was later found and lost again. It seems to be a common occurrence to read about tomb raiding in history.
(Photo Above: Side entrance view into the church.)
Modesty is requested when entering this sacred church, so we covered ourselves with aprons provided by the church.
(Photo Above: The men dressed up in serious faces and some serious modesty.)
Once we entered, you can walk below into a low-ceiling, humidity-intense, moldy smelling room. In the back corner is where the tomb of St. Lazarus would have been. We took photos around the church and headed back into the swealtering heat.
(Photo Above: Entrance down into Lazarus’ presumed tomb area.)
(Photo Above: Location where St. Lazarus’ tomb would have been.)
We were about to head back home, when Piano Man asked to see another site. What?! The day before Piano Man was not interested in seeing St. Paul’s Pillar, and yet he had change of heart. Prof suggested a famous mosque in Larnaca that would be worth seeing.
(Photo Above: Piano Man has a hankering for photography. He finds the most interesting viewpoints from the camera.)
(Photo Above: The photo Piano Man took from his vantage point.)
Hala Sultan Tekke
Do you know why the Hala Sultan Tekke is so famous? Not only is the holy site for Turkish-Cypriot Muslims, but according to a senior Fulbright scholar, Professor George E. Bowen, from the University of Tennessee, it is considered the fourth holiest place for Muslims in the world. This is probably also because Mohammed’s foster mother, Umm Haram, was buried there.
While mostly everyone on the island cooled off by the beaches, a handful of people like us visited ancient sites.
Salt Lake in Larnaca
Across from Hala Sultan Tekke is Salt Lake. We had driven by the lake during the fall, winter, and spring seasons when it was filled with salt and water, but nothing prepared me for this:
(Photo Above: Can you imagine sitting out in the blazing sun to see this view?)
You can walk at the bottom of this shallow lake! Uncle JB wanted to walk as far out as he could, but it was quite slippery the further you walked.
(Photo Above: For art enthusiasts out there, I know many of you would disagree on my next comment. But for some reason, this photo reminded me of something Salvador Dali would create, such as his “Persistence of Memory.”
It was a surreal experience to walk on a dry lake.
(Photo Above: A little flowering vegetation in a terribly hot and dry environment seems so ironic, doesn’t it?)
We ended the day relaxing in the apartment over some leftover saam gyup sal (pork belly grilled on a stove top pan). Yum! (Sorry, no photos. We ate it all up!)