The next day I checked out of the pensione and pointed the moped toward the Troodos Mountains.
One of the overlooked characteristics of islands is that they’re basically mountains whose tops stick out of the sea. While the shorelines tend to be sunny and warm, heading upcountry brings you quickly into higher elevations and much cooler climates.
With the Troodos Mountains, I was either in the clouds or above the clouds the whole time, which prevented me from having the kind of panoramic views I was hoping for, but allowed me to enter a whole new realm of Cyprus. It was woodsy up there, with cascading rivers and lodges made of stone and timber. On a Greek island? Yeah, I was surprised.
I spilled once more on the moped, but this time I was clad in cool weather gear: Levi’s and one of those densely woven Mexican ponchos that we called a lopez. I rolled a couple of times on the gravel but came up un-bloodied. The lopez had taken the brunt of the impact.
After two nights in the Troodos Mountains, including one at a monastery, it was time to head home. I felt apprehensive about returning the moped to the rental agency. They had given me a gleaming new scooter, and I was returning a beaten up object impacted with dirt from two separate spills and a heavily dented basket in front. But they didn’t even give it a once over. I parked it out front, went inside to pay, and we exchanged a round of pleasant goodbyes.
I was quite taken with the Orthodox cemeteries on Cyprus, particularly the photos of the deceased and the Greek lettering on the tombstones. Something I couldn’t help but notice was the relatively short lifespans indicated on the grave markers. Considering the idyllic conditions of the island and the Mediterranean diet patterns, I would have expected the opposite. One thing I did observe was that almost everyone smoked heavily, from the cab driver who lit a cigarette at the beginning of my 90 minute ride to Paphos and smoked the whole way by lighting a new cigarette with the last bit of the old one, to the grill-tender at the souvlaki joint who lit his cigarettes from the cooking flame and threw the butts into same.
Byzantine era paintings inside a monastery. I can’t recall any details. I think I just walked inside, saw them, and snapped some photos. There was no glass partition or prohibition against flash photography.