I have been home for 2 days now, and I am still in a haze. I find myself waking up at 5 AM and looking through pictures on facebook, just to make sure it was all real. My head is in two different places, home and Cyprus. I know this is all an effect of reverse culture shock, but I really wonder if it will ever stop. I love seeing my friends I had missed so much, but when I'm with them I oddly feel as if I am in a dream, and will wake up in Cyprus the next morning. After the experience I had, in just one month of seeing a whole new place, become close to a whole new group of friends, and essentially living a whole new life... I don't know if I can ever go back to normal.
Cyprus from the airplane
The 14 hour plane ride back seemed quick. I tried to watch the movies, but ended up just falling asleep in the awkwardly small chair half in the isle and half on Halie. I remember waking up as the plane was descending into Chicago. Normally, after being away from home for a month, it would be normal to feel ecstatic to touch down in America once again. But all I could relate to Chicago was the departing and separating of the 8 people in our Tennessee group that had been together 24/7 for the past 5 weeks. We had all been talking about this point of our trip since day one.
In the words of the always positive Jenna, "The only bad thing about our perfect lives here is that it will end."
And she was right, our trip did end... all too soon for any of us. The last image of Cyprus I had in my head was watching the tiny island grow smaller and smaller from the window of the plane. I hate to admit it, but I teared up. Not just at the thought of leaving this beautiful island with it's white sandy beaches and regal mountains. But I was leaving behind some very important people. Yes they were just in my life for a very short time, but they have no idea how big of an impact they made on me. Let's go in reverse and start from the beginning....
We had all had our share of annoyances from the Cypriot guys on the island. They made a simply walk to the grocery store impossible without honks and cat calls. They scared us from time to time with their stalking behaviors and persistency. They were a tad sketchy while juggling multiple girls. They could oil a full size SUV with the amount of product they put in their hair. At least the Cypriot guys we had met thus far. And when we ventured to Club Toy for the night, we once again were getting hassled by a group of guys who were laughing at our annoyance.
That's when we met Odyss. As a native Cypriot that goes to school in Tampa, Odyss and our group talked about the States, shared the feeling of absolute necessity for corn dogs and American Football... and bonded with us instantly. He hung out with us for the rest of the night. He even got the creepy Cypriot guys to back off.
Odyss introduced us to his friend, Abel. Without this guy convincing Odyss to come out that night, we would have never met either one of them. I could tell from the first conversation I had with Abel, that we would be great friends. I instantly felt like he was my long lost best friend that had been separated by 4,000 for the past 20 years of my life.
The first memory I have of Abel was spelling his name "Abell" in my phone. He was less than trilled. "I know my name sounds like a bell but you don't have to spell it like that!" and I replied, "hmm doesn't ring A BELL!" His emotionless glance my direction let me know he did not find that humorous. I cracked up more.
The next night we invited the guys to come to dinner with us to meet the rest of our Tennessee group. As we walked over to meet what we thought was going to be just our 2 new friends, we were greeted by a group of 6 guys. That is when we met Vas, Alex, Alexi, and Demi! Half of the group had British accents, most were at least half Cypriot, and all of them were some of the nicest guys I have ever met.
Jenna schooling Odyss in cards at the Syrian restaurant
We went and ate at a Syrian restaurant, one we had come to love because of their hilarious admiration of Zaina. Once we walked into the restaurant we would be greeted by 3 to 4 waiters leading us to our table and saying things like "Zaaaina, Zaina we missed you! It's so good to see you! Where have you been?!" Then the meal would progress into free coffee, meals, and desserts for miss Zaina Budayr. Score.
That night we all just hung out in our apartment and taught the Cypriots some American cards games!
Anytime we played cards during the trip, we all saw a whole new side to Danielle. A very competitive and slightly scary side. I don't know how many times I was Danielle's partner for the card game Euker.... my easily distracted personality plus Danielle's determination to win did not tend to mix very well. But a couple of "ANNIE.... FOCUS." later, we dominated just about every game we played.
Our adventures with our new friends did not end there, the next night we watched the Ghana game at our favorite pub, Brickyard. After the exciting game, a couple of karaoke songs, and more card games.... we found ourselves being pulled on stage by a group of Argentina guys dancing the salsa. Zaina recognized the group from our Egypt cruise we had taken a couple of weeks back, and asked the guy she was dancing with... "Egypt?" .... he replied "FERNANDO!" as he pointed to himself excitedly.
Dancing with the Argentinians
Later that night we went to a club called Nuovo. The clubs in Cyprus are so different from the clubs in America. They are HUGE, very high class, and have the best music! After dancing the night away "Waving Flag" by K'naan blasted from the speakers. This being the final song of the night, as well as the final song we came to love on our trip, we all danced in a big group hug and teared up a little as we looked back on how many experiences we had in this island.
However we didn't realize at that point that we still had the most epic 4th of July weekend ahead of us. We woke up the next morning and drove off with our new Cypriot friends to Ayia Napa. We relaxed on the beach all day and Halie, Danielle, and I even took the plunge off a giant cliff! We tried to convince Demi's girlfriend, Marianna, to jump off with us. But when she looked out at the sharp rocks below she shook her head and laughed at us for trying. Luckily we missed the scattterd rocks at the bottom and came back home alive.
Well home was actually a one bedroom apartment... intended to fit 9 people. The boys all stayed in the living room, which meant 2 twin size beds for 5 of us girls. We accomplished this task by pushing the beds together and sleeping long-ways. This left no room for movement, and everyone woke up sore. Everyone except for me, that is... who, as Jenna informed me the next day, made myself comfortable by cuddling with her and taking up way more than my space. Whoops.
Waking up sore, for most of the people in the group, could only be fixed by one thing.... Sunset Beach. This beach was the most beautiful and relaxing beach I had yet to see in Cyprus, and that's saying a lot considering every beach I had been to until that point took my breath away. But the beauty of this beach could only add to the experience we had this day. The best 4th of July I had ever had.... and I wasn't even in America.
(to be continued...)