Cyprus is a country split by a border: the south is home to the Greek side, or the Republic of Cyprus, and the north is officially called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Historically there is a lot of turmoil between the Greeks and the Turks, and it wasn't until 2003 that crossing points were established at the border. Now you can cross at two points on foot or at five points by car. I was wondering what it would be like to cross the border, imagining quite a tense encounter. I was incredibly wrong. My new friend from the U.K. and I decided to adventure to the North for a day trip. He is learning Turkish and wanted to practice with the locals and I really wanted to see Kyrenia, a harbor town founded around 1200 B.C.
|Admittedly, I am not a terribly religious person - I try to live by the golden rule. I treated other as I would like to be treated and try to let kindness guide me throughout life. However, I have always been fascinated to see how people practice religion in foreign countries. In Sicily, Mexico and Nicaragua I have had memorable experiences in churches and I decided that Cyprus wasn't going to be any different just because people were practicing Islam instead of Christianity. Curiosity always gets the best of me, so I covered my head with this beautiful scarf, put an equally beautiful skirt over my jeans and headed inside.|
|The service was very peaceful and the Mosque was lovely. Afterward, the Imam, who leads the ceremony, welcomed me into the Mosque as a Christian and as an American. He shook my hand and introduced me to his brother in law and nephew who were visiting from Turkey. He thanked me for being a teacher and told me I could take as many photographs as I wanted to. He encouraged me to come back anytime, reminding me that all are welcome. When we asked him how to get to the harbor, he told us he would just drive down and guide us and that we could follow him there.|
|A beautiful day to be on the water|