They crowd around a young Turkish Cypriot woman who is reading the coffee grounds of a Greek Cypriot woman opposite her. The rest were all ears.
“Hade gori (Greek: Come on girl), what do you see?” says the Greek Cypriot woman.
“Vallahi (Turkish: So help me) I see a diamond,” says the Turkish Cypriot young woman.
Chatter and laughter continued until it was time to go on the bus back to Nicosia.
“[My favourite parts] were the coffee breaks, chat[ting] with people of all communities in Cyprus.” (Participant feedback)
This coffee break was the end of a day’s walking trip in the Paphos area, organised by the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage (TCCH) and the United Nations Development Programme in Cyprus, and funded by the European Union.
Formed of heritage experts from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, the TCCH work to build trust between communities in Cyprus through the conservation of cultural heritage sites and activities, such as the Paphos Walks, which took place on Sunday October 13, 2019.
The Paphos walks followed a similar activity in Karpasia/Karpaz between March and May 2018.
Both events, as well as more than 66 conservation projects on heritage sites, including Orthodox, Maronite and Armenian churches, mosques and minarets, fortifications, hamams, and aqueducts and watermills, were funded by the European Union and supported by UNDP.
“The UNDP have assisted in restoring these amazing monuments, that are off the usual trail but nevertheless are very important cultural heritage sites, that mean much to the people.” (Participant feedback)
The 12km route started from the village of Fyti/Fiti, known for its traditional, vividly coloured textiles, and continued through a natural heritage route where the group saw a natural oak monument, a watermill and Skarfos medieval bridge.
They walked by the Evretou/Evretu lake, which is inhabited by a variety of birds, before visiting a mosque built in the 20th century which had been conserved by the TCCH. They then set off by bus to Chrysochou/ Hirsofu village, where they visited a watermill also restored by the TCCH.
Some 30 people from Greek Cypriot, Turkish Cypriot and other communities took part and shared positive feedback:
“[My favourite part] was meeting new people and sharing views.” (Participant feedback)
“There are hidden treasures [in Cyprus].” (Participant feedback)
The event was organised by UNDP as part of the EU-funded Cultural Heritage Monuments of Great Importance Phase 6 project. It is part of a series of awareness raising activities that will be rolled out by the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage over 2020.