It's a hot summer day and most Nicosians drive away from the sun-scorched desert towards The Rock's southeastern coast and its crystalline beaches. On route, temperamental drivers flash their lights at those slowing down the flow of traffic, while youngsters on motorbikes slalom their way through the automobiles at death-defying speeds. Passengers sway their heads to the Greek pop or laugh at the political talk shows that blare from within the air-conditioned cabins. Others engage in banal banter. Twenty-five minutes into the journey, the Mediterranean sea and its shades of blue emerges as backdrop to a few church steeples and Larnaca's harbor. Exit left. Thirty minutes later, the crowds disembark in Agia Napa and Protaras, the capital's weekend playground.
Once this multifaceted conglomeration of drivers reaches the beach, it splits into three groups. First are those who show up for the show, the allure, the flash. Second are those who embrace their working-class traditions and all that is practical. Then there's a third group, which includes The Wife, Ph.D., et al, that falls somewhere between show and tradition but in reality couldn't care less about either. Albeit, it's a boring hybrid of the first two so I will spare you a detailed description of its modus operandi.
Those for show only go to the "popular" beaches to see and be seen. Girls in small bikinis don makeup, their hair is up in fancy buns generally reserved for the catwalk or a wedding, their eyes are covered in sunglasses emblazoned with D&G, Gucci, Armani or Versace on their hinges or temples, and their arms carry handbags that if sold on the black-market could feed a Bolivian village for a week or two. They are suntanned and sinfully skinny and gossip endlessly about other women just like them, many times studying them from head to toe just to spot more flaws to add to the already scathing review of their persona. And when they go for a swim their heads bob above the surface like buoys because (God forbid!) the salty water smudges their mascara or renders their coiffure useless or ruins their expensive beach gear. The boys, who hang around waiting to impress the gals with their semi-sculpted bodies and luxury cars and Villebrequin bathing suits, sip on overpriced Corona or Smirnoff Ice or Bacardi Breezer or iced coffee and talk about football or investment banking or cars and play on their iPhones and flirt only with those girls who approve of their status, bank accounts and handsomeness.
The second group arrives prepared for the end of the world or (at least) a long-lasting war. From the back of their pick-up truck or SUV, they pull out folding chairs and tables, water coolers stuffed with sandwiches, watered-down beer, soft drinks, fruit, cookies and potato chips, promotional towels and umbrellas, rackets and balls, floating devices, shovels, rakes and pails to build sand castles, water guns, head wear, a deck of cards and a backgammon board, magazines and newspapers, a radio, and an extra change of clothes. The bolder ones also unload a grill, some raw meat and a sack of charcoal to cook up some lunch. They set up their camp with great agility (in essence moving their living room, dining room and kitchen to the coast for a day or two) and then sit their asses down to soak in the rays, splash around the water like carefree dolphins, and mind their own business, totally unconcerned about what others might think of their weekend beach bunker.
So last Sunday, to the chagrin of Minnie Mouse and The Wife, Ph.D., the Disney-obsessed man child and I decided to stage the 1st Annual Traditional Cypriot Sunday (ATCS), a celebration in honor of this second group of beach revelers. Decked in over-sized wife beaters, we strolled down to a relatively uncrowded beach carrying two folding chairs, a Rothman's cigarettes promotional umbrella, Nivea and Omonoia (the leftist football squad on The Rock) towels, two coolers stuffed with refreshments, a battery-operated frappe (iced coffee) maker, cake and cookies, plastic cups, comic books, beach rackets and ball, a giant floating device for two, a quarter of a watermelon (which if we had brought whole we would have put in the water to keep chilled) and a liter box of KEO white wine. Of course, the wives were totally embarrassed and asked us to sit as far away as possible. Of course, we refused and promised them we wouldn't forget to bring along the pick-up truck, grill, meats and fancy friends the following year.
Boxed KEO White Wine - A slight hint of fresh cut apples. Absolutely no caudalie. Not much else. We drank it on the rocks and in plastic cups as per the rules of the event. For the 2nd ATCS, we might do a horizontal tasting of boxed wines. Stay tuned.