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DDD's NaJoPoMo - Only In Cyprus #28
Deep Doo Doo Started conversation Nov 28, 2011
Three years ago I met a man called Calum and his wife Laura. Laura was Cypriot-born and Calum was a New Zealander. I still have no idea of how they both met, but I do know that Laura spent quite some time in Australia, so I'm assuming that it would have been in that part of the world.
Over the years, work has meant that we've met two, sometimes three times a week and exchanged pleasantries, but only ever as colleagues, rather than friends. Calum is a great story teller; full of big ideas and tales that are always fun to listen to but always leaving an element of doubt as to their authenticity. Laura busies herself with homeopathy and bottles olive oil to sell alongside incense and Africana artefacts. Unsurprisingly, both are often dismissed as a little flaky - initially, I was probably guilty of that too - but I think it was because they never conversed about their daily or personal lives, which naturally makes people a little suspicious.
In recent times, both have offered a gradual insight into a series of personal setbacks and as we've slowly begun to unravel the depth of their struggle, my wife and I have found ourselves becoming more and more charitable towards them. Just six months ago, I learnt that they had two sons - one is 12, the other 15 - and I was astounded; this is the sort of information that people impart willingly, often enthusiastically when trying to indicate their social position, life-style and career choices. But no, they are both incredibly private people.
Calum first asked me for some practical advice about a year ago because he knew that my working background was electronics. He had a electric cement mixer that kept blowing fuses and wondered why. I suggested various areas to check, which he said he'd already done, so I casually diagnosed it as a faulty motor and recommended replacement. It was only when he turned to walk away and mentioned in a downbeat manner that he'd replace it when he could afford it, that I thought I needed to make a little more effort. I offered to take a look if he'd remove the motor and give it to me for appraisal, which he did.
It ended up being the start capacitor (which I replaced with an old one I had lying around) and since then Calum has sought my advice on further matters. Currently, he desperately needs a reliable internet connection - the boys' schooling is suffering without one, but they've no phone line and no hope of getting one. I suggested tapping into a neighbour (with their agreement) but was told that the nearest neighbour was 1km away and fed by a satellite connection. Over the last three months, I've repeatedly offered suggestions, parts and ideas but it came to the point where I could only do better with the benefit of a site visit.
My wife and I went today.
What I expected to be a 10 minute appraisal turned out to be one of the most enjoyable days I've ever had in Cyprus. Calum and Laura have 27 acres of smallholding sunk deep into a valley and overlooking the sea to the distance. In addition to the main house, they have a tiny traditional Cypriot cottage which Calum built for Laura's late father, from whom they subsequently inherited the land. The surroundings are utterly breathtaking, perfectly kempt and littered with personal touches that could only come from someone like Laura. We stayed as long as we could, before my wife needed to collect her sisters children from school, and we were offered the greatest of hospitality.
The conversation flowed and flowed as each party disclosed information and life histories that would never be discussed among the general public. I left thoroughly elated and in complete awe of two of the poorest, but happy people I know.
What they have is a lifetime of work, perfectly sculpted and fashioned to produce near-Utopia. What they don't have is money. What they have, I'd give up everything I own to be a part of - I was truly envious.
I arrived as a facilitator, but we left as friends. It was entirely obvious that very few get to ever witness such paradise and share in their lives. We are revisiting on Saturday and instead of working toward a solution, I'll get to kick back, imbibe a few tinnies and appreciate a feast of Cypriot flavours intertwined with a tinge of NZ influence.
You can lead the pension-funded expat-lifestyle, swallowing away your days in the Corner pin or the Kings Sword while complaining about anything and everything and boasting how great your life is, or you can meet people like Calum and Laura and endeavour for perfection that's been crafted from sheer love, dedication to a cause and a lifetime of secrecy.
I know what I'm inspired to do.
DDD's NaJoPoMo - Only In Cyprus #28
Researcher 14993127 Posted Nov 28, 2011
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