Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cyprus mulings musings

wings over GreeceI'm back! I'm currently wrestling with a travelling bug that latched on to me somewhere in the air between Athens and London and hasn't released it's grip yet. The main symptoms are disturbed sleep, an extended period of bleating and honking in the morning, and the sensation that my head is trapped in a pressure chamber. Plus all the usual cold symptoms. Once this has been conquered, I can throw myself into my thesis and look for summer jobs, apply for loans, get my Nighthawk out on the road, etc., etc., but I also aim to share some Thoughts About Cyprus.

One of Cyprus's Great Tourist Symbols is the humble, adorable donkey. Before agriculture on the island reached its current level of modernization, donkeys were integral to the Cyprus grape harvest. Most of the vineyards today are accessible by ATVs and other harvesting vehicles, and they have been made more accessible by gentler graded fields. In the past, however, vineyards were steeply and narrowly terraced (you can still see the terraces, but they are no longer used), and donkeys were the best beasts for the job. Donkeys aren't used much anymore, however, and there are now a few donkey sanctuaries on the island that offer donkey rides and petting zoos.

Tourism destinations, even one as thoroughly touristified as Cyprus, can always defy expectations. I was privileged, for instance, to see a rather urbane donkey eating hay behind a gas station in a suburb of Paphos (he looked content, so I assume he was well-treated, but I haven't figured out if he was a pet, or meant to make British Villa-land seem more authentically "Cypriot"). This particular donkey was photographed in a grape-growing foothill area on our way to the Troodos [sic] mountains. Suitably "authentic," then, for a tourist's camera:

Cyprus donkey

Isn't he sweet? I just love donkeys and assorted pack animals. Taking into account my burro post, I should think of starting a category specifically for donkeys and burros.

More to come later!


L-girl said...

I just came by to see if you were still blogging. I love donkeys, too.

They often make me sad, though. Pack animals are so often abused.

But he's cute. :)

Sarah O. said...

Yes, still blogging, when my conscience compels and/or allows me to!

I think it's impressive that donkeys are good at protecting horses and other animals from wolves. A far superior solution to alleged wolf over-population!