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Archive for July, 2011

It is amazing how a random act of kindness makes you feel, whether it is someone doing something for you, or you doing something for someone else.

I love it and look forward to times when an opportunity comes my way allowing me to do something for someone else.  I love the happiness that I feel inside knowing that I did something that helped someone or made the day a little better for that person. Something that had a positive impact on their day, or maybe even their life.

Well both have happened today. The weather forecast for today in Lincoln was rain – sunshine – rain (not so different from many days here in jolly ol’ England).  However the morning actually started off with a few clouds that the wind blew by and I was excited to see the sunshine come out instead of rain.  However, one must remember that when clouds are moving quickly, they can appear just as fast as they disappear. All of a sudden big black clouds blew in covering the entire sky.

Massive Black Clouds Moving In

Then the rain came as if the heavens had opened up.  Normally I can work around it and do any walking errands after the rain has passed.  However, I had a chiropractor appointment today in city centre and it is raining too hard, making it unsafe to walk down a steep hill to the office.

Normally I would have called a local taxi but instead decided to call my friend and neighbor, Terry, and ask him if he was able to drive me to my appointment.  Fortunately he was home today and said yes.  That really did make my day easier for me – an act of kindness on his part.  A short time later I went into the garage to throw the rubbish in the bin and saw a lady leaning up against the wall of the garage to escape the sudden pouring down of rain.  I asked her if she would like to wait in the lobby of the apartment building until the rain stopped. She said she was alright and that the rain would stop in a few minutes.  She was on her way to work just down the street.  The rain at this point did not look as if it were going to stop in a few minutes, so I quickly ran up to our apartment,  grabbed an umbrella, took it downstairs and gave it to her.  She took it and thanked me and said that she will drop it off tomorrow on her way to work.  She smiled at me and I felt so good knowing that I was able to make her day a little easier.

In our busy lives with such busy schedules is it easy to forget about the little things in life.  Sometimes we need a reminder to be aware of the gifts that random acts of kindness brings.

I hope that this little story brings a smile to your face and reminds you that there are many wonderful and caring people around us in the world and we should take the opportunity to do random acts of kindness every day.  It gives us faith in humanity.

Look for the opportunities – they will enrich your life.

After the Rain, the Sun Shines Once Again

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While walking through the streets of the Old Port, a beautiful shop window caught our attention. We entered the shop to look at all of the beautiful art pieces, and were greeted by Myrianthi, a woman sitting in front of an easel surrounded by a rainbow of paints. She held a special brush and was painting one of these beautiful pieces.

Myrianthi at Work

She paused just long enough to welcome us into her shop, explaining that the shop is also her work gallery where she does all of her painting. Amazed by what I saw, I asked her if I could take a photo of her while she was painting. I always make a point of asking for permission before taking a picture. She hand paints Byzantine icons such as Mary & Jesus, as well as the Apostles and the Saints specific to Cyprus. She learned the process from her dad and began helping him when she was only 12 years old. Using special paints, including expensive 24kt gold paint, the preparation of the canvas and wood is a complicated process that takes quite a long time to complete.

True Talent

We continued looking around the shop at each of these iconic works of art as Myrianthi explained what each of the icons represented.  We ran out of time before we could make our selections, but assured her that we will return to her shop and choose a few to bring home.

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Several people recommended that we go to Troodos, which is up in a mountain range north of Limassol. We felt the B8 road out of Limassol begin to climb right from the start. The signs weren’t too bad – something we couldn’t say about most places in Cyprus. We continued to follow the signs to Troodos, stopping where there was a place to stop to admire the views.

The Troodos Forest

After about an hour we reached the centre of Troodos. At least that’s what the signs implied. Aside from the trees there wasn’t a lot around us.

The Traditional Pony Ride

 

And the Traditional Mule Ride

A few touristy shops, a restaurant and a hotel and a museum disguised as a visitor centre.

The Museum

All looked to be no more than a few months old. The restaurant looked more touristy than tasty, so we popped into the hotel to ask exactly where we could find the village of Troodos. The person at the desk insisted that this is downtown Troodos. “Troodos is a forest, not really a place,” she explained. “If you would like to go to a village, try Platres, about 10 kilometers in the direction of Limassol.”

Road Signs (or are they bingo results?)

Platres was just the kind of place that we expected to see in the mountains. A very picturesque village, with lots of villagey things – small cafes, hotels, a park, the police station, and of course the obligatory mountain chocolate shop, all located along roads meant for cars in two directions but only large enough for one.

The Edelweiss Hotel

On the lookout for a place to get a sandwich, we spotted a quaint little place, the Edelweiss Hotel, promising tea, coffee and snacks. Had this been Georgia in the southern US, it would have been something straight out of the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. We parked the car nearby and walked toward the Edelweiss. As we approached we could see that they rolled out the red carpet for us. It actually was a neutral beige colour, and strictly speaking, it wasn’t for us. They were in the midst of renovating the hotel, and were cutting the carpet into room-sized pieces in the street. One of the installers then flipped the carpet pieces over one at a time, and applied the glue. The other installer grabbed the section and disappeared into the hotel to complete another room.

We were then greeted by the owner, George Papas, born and raised in Cyprus. He asked us to excuse the work that was going on, and yes, he would be happy to serve us some tuna sandwiches. George told us some of his history. He had lived in England for 16 years, then upon returning to Cyprus found the hotel. He wasn’t actually looking to buy a hotel, he just fell in love with the area and never left. Part of his English experience stays with him. He reads The Sun newspaper every day, mostly to keep up with his London football team, Arsenal.

George is very knowledgeable about the area, and told us stories about the old asbestos mines nearby. During the time when asbestos was found to be a health hazard, sealed barrels of asbestos were buried deep in the mines, sort of a “what goes around comes around” story. Now there is a flourishing garden covering the land where the mines were.

There were some watercolours in the reception area of the hotel, and I asked George where we could find some for ourselves. He directed us to the nearby village of Lania, where some galleries could be found. On our way out of Platres, before finding the galleries, we found The Chocolate Factory.

The Chocolate Factory

The Chocolate Factory featured freshly handmade chocolates – even sugar free – so of course we had to stop and buy a few pieces. Just three, really! It was a real treat for Steve to be able to get fresh handmade sugar-free chocolates. We savored the few pieces of chocolate as we continued toward Lania.

As the turnoff to Lania went sailing by the left-hand window of our car, we decided that we would visit Lania on another day. Fortunately, there was another opportunity to turn off, and we did. One of the galleries that caught our attention was owned by the artist Pat Thompson and his wife Niki. As we walked into their gallery, which was a room attached to their house, Niki started telling us stories about each of the pictures that her husband painted. We bought an original that he had just finished the day before, as well as some other prints of his work. She continued to tell us that she is originally from Famagusta, now on the Turkish side of Cyprus. They were forced out of their house in 1973 and have not been able to go back since.

We heard some amazing stories and met some very interesting people. All because we turned down the road leading to the Edelweiss Hotel. And the tuna sandwiches and iced coffees hit the spot.

It All Started with George

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Maria is a server at what has become one of our favorite pizza and salad restaurants just across the street from our hotel. Maria was born in Bulgaria and now lives and works in Limassol, Cyprus. She is a single mom. She has a five year old son. He is visiting his grandma (her mom) in Bulgaria for the summer, giving Maria a chance to work more hours and make extra money to send back to Bulgaria to help her fulfill her dream.

Maria and Max

Elena is a server at what has become one of our favorite all around restaurants in the Old Port of Limassol. She also has a second job serving at another restaurant in the evening. Elena was born in Romania and now lives with her husband in Limassol. Elena is working two jobs to help fulfill her dream.

Max and Elena

Both of them are working hard, making higher wages in Cyprus than they could back home, and they are each saving for their dream. Both have a dream of moving back to their home country to be near their families and friends. Maria’s dream is to build a hotel in Bulgaria. In fact, after years of saving, construction of her hotel has begun. Elena’s dream along with her husband is to build a house in Romania and begin a family, and construction on her new house has begun as well.

There are many stories like Maria and Elena’s in other parts of the world, including the United States of America, where people working for higher wages send money to their family in their home country to help them in their daily lives, many times in hopes of bringing them to another country one day for a better life.

Their stories remind us to live each day with the attitude of gratitude and be thankful for what we have.

As we talk with people when we travel, they ask where we are from, if we are on holiday or work, about our family and then they tell us where they are from, what brought them here, about their family. Before you know it you hear stories that are often amazing, and you’ve made a new friend.

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