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Cyprus has finally got it!

Since I have lived in in Cyprus, I have missed  many things about the US but mainly food! And although not gourmet, one of my guilty pleasures was Taco Bell, a popular Mexican fast food chain owned by the same company as KFC and Pizza Hut. You can imagine how excited I was about the opening of Taco Bell in Limassol at My Mall.

 Mexican food is my specialty. I owned Mexican restaurants for years in Chicago and in Virginia before I moved to Cyprus and I just love the food.  Of course, this is not authentic Mexican and totally different than the Mexican places I owned myself.  It is more the cheap and cheerful variety in my opinion and very tasty. It is more expensive than in the US, but in comparison to other foods in Cyprus it is on par with the cost of living and other fast food places.

People outside the U.S. always have to mention the fact that according to the statistics the U.S. is fatter than anyone else. I have always said that once any country has McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell it will have the same problem that the U.S. has with obesity. From what I hear obesity is starting to creep up on the Cypriot population too.  The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 2 out of 3 Cypriots will be obese by the year 2015 caused by poor eating habits and lack of exercise due to excessive TV watching and video games (for the kids).  Depsite these grim facts I still enjoy Taco Bell and think others will too.  Just enjoy all these indulgences in moderation and keep up with some physical activity!   

If you have been to the the Limassol, My Mall, Taco Bell share your thoughts and opinions or give us a restuarant review!

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H1N1 Vaccine in Cyprus

I just wrote a new post regarding all the media hype regarding vaccinating against the dreaded swine flu or not.  The vaccine will become available in Cyprus on October 15. Read our new post and share your thoughts on H1N1 vs. Seasonal Flu, your experience and what you have done or plan to do.

http://www.cyprus101.com/blogs/cleo_shahateet/archive/2009/10/09/h1n1-jabs-or-not-seasonal-flu-shots-or-not-we-weigh-in.aspx

Paying for a name

I just read about how the naming of the new mall in Limassol did not go so well. It was originally named Tiffany’s and then had to change their name because the real Tiffany’s in the U.S. threatened to sue them so they changed the name to My Mall.

Since I think the name My Mall is not a very good one and there seems to be firstly, a lack of creativity in the ranks of the builders and developers of the malls in Cyprus when it comes to names, (ie. The Mall in Nicosia, Paphos Mall in Paphos which is not a real mall. Seconldy, they will eventually change the name again so I thought it would be a good idea to start giving them some ideas ahead of time, in case they don’t hire a marketing company to do the research for them.

Here are some names I came up with, let me hear yours:

Mediterranean Mall with a double M logo, Moufflon Mall with double M logo again, Harbour Mall, Marina Mall, Eastern Med Mall and lastly, since the heat of the summer is at times overwhelming and the mall can be your oasis from the heat (free air-conditioning) for many, I think The Oasis Mall would fit perfectly.

I will try to come up with more and will post them as they come. Let me hear some more cool names

beach-latsiSummer is the time for laid back fun: relaxing on the beach, swimming and playing. In Cyprus we spend much more time outside than other countries due to the long and hot summers. With the recent and very sad death of an 11-month-old boy at a beach in Kissonerga, I would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone how to keep you and your family safe at the beach and in the heat.

Beaches and the Mediterranean are relatively calm in comparison to oceans, but don’t be deceived as there have been many fatal accidents and near drownings. Recently, a mother was standing in the sea holding her 11-month-old baby boy when a strong wave went over them. The mother could not hold on to her baby – the wave combined with the strong current took the baby away. Despite speedy bystanders who helped find him at the bottom of the sea then desperate measures to revive him at the scene, they ultimately could not save him. He died 2 days later at Nicosia hospital where he had been urgently transported. It is a tragedy that I hope no one else has to endure. The beach in question is in the Kissonerga area of Paphos and does not have warning signs or a lifeguard. Many people swim at these quieter beaches and it is a luxury to have so many beautiful and secluded beaches to relax on, but when swimming, please try to remember the following to avoid any more tragedies.

1. Never swim alone.
2. If you are caught in a rip current, swim sideways until free, don’t swim against the currents pull.
3. Don’t rely on floatation devices alone to protect children, but always make sure they wear them.
4. Alcohol and swimming don’t mix
5. Never dive into unknown waters.
6. Never become overly confident.
7. If you are in trouble shout, wave and call for help.
8. Only swim in designated areas (if posted)
Combined with swimming and water safety, heat exhaustion is another factor that goes hand in hand with long days at the beach. The Cyprus sun is strong and the humidity and temperature get so high it can be debilitating. Even if you can not feel the heat because you are in and out of the water or in the shade you can still become overheated to the point of exhaustion.

I have personal experience with this in the August, Miami heat – weather comparable to Cyprus. My wife and I spent a couple hours on the beach, strolling, by the pool then when it cooled down at around 6pm, we went for a slow jog on the beach. Then the problems began…it was over 100 degrees yet she was trembling, shaking and dizzy. To make a long story short we spent the night in the hospital where she was administered a potassium drink and 5 bags of IV fluid to rehydrate her over a 24 hour period. X-rays were taken of her lungs and a CAT scan of her brain to ensure there was no dangerous swelling due to the heat. This was a learning experience and she was fine but we had a scare as it all happened before we knew it. A mistake we made was that once we had realized she was dehydrated, I encouraged her to drink water. This only depleted the electrolytes in her body making her worse. She needed something with salt to replace what had been lost. This brings me to what you should do to avoid a potentially fatal situation or something like what happened to us:

1. Make sure to drink enough fluids like Gatorade or Lucozade and Water.

2. Stay in the shade or air conditioning if possible.

3. Wear loose, light clothing

4. Avoid drugs, alcohol, caffeine and sugar which can cause dehydration.

5. Be especially careful with babies and the elderly who are more susceptible to heat exhaustion.

6. Exercise in the early morning/late evening or inside if possible.

Lastly, always wear sunscreen. A child can burn within 10 minutes! Sunburns can be extremely painful, dangerous and increases the risk of future skin cancer. Please remember these basic and key points to staying safe during the summer. If you have any additional pointers please share them with us so we can all have fun and enjoy our summer in Cyprus or wherever you may be!

Paphos Villa in Sea Caves Area

Paphos Villa in Sea Caves Area

This fantastic villa was designed by a well-renowned architect. The aim was to create a stunning contemporary home with a subtle blend of Art Deco features throughout. The precise architectural structures, the use of space and light, and the clean lines are easy on the eye and ‘state of the art’ technology has been built in with Cyprus lifestyle in mind.

The ground-floor features a spacious open plan living area, divided into distinct areas. The lounge area is transformed seamlessly into an impressive cinema room by the touch of a button with remote controlled blinds, projector screen, and built-in surround sound system. All technology is controlled remotely including the flush fit gas fire, built-in ceiling A/C units and mood lighting sytem for the house and garden.

The stylish kitchen is superbly equipped with granite worktops and Meile appliances, combination oven & microwave, built-in coffee machine, double hob including fryer and griddle system. All bathrooms are fitted with high quality finishes, including Grohe electric taps and wall hung toilets.

A double granite staircase leads to the first floor hallway, study area, and impressive balcony at the front of the house with wonderful sea views. Two large double bedrooms, each with en-suite shower room, lead to a semi circular balcony from which there are stunning mountain views. The fourth bedroom can be used as a self-contained studio, staff quarters, guest accommodation, or a gym/games room.

The outside areas are designed with outdoor living and entertaining in mind, with a large outdoor bar and kitchen, and domed gazebo eating area, covered with grape vines and seating for up to 14 people. The heated swimming pool has a built-in spa. There are changing facilities including a sauna and steam shower. The swimming pool water & irrigation for the mature garden is supplied by its’ own well. The land around the home is mature with conservation land in front and green area with fruit trees behind

For more photos, information and virtual tour click here.

I have been living in Cyprus for just over one year and have finally settled in Polis. I first worked near Epsiskopi village teaching and breaking-in horses at an equestrian centre. I had a wish to do “turtle watch” and made enquiries at Lara Bay. Unfortunately I was not required but I found telephone numbers of contacts in the army WSBA areas, Akrotiri, Episkopi and Pissouri Beach on a Sunday morning, which was very convenient as I ride a Cypriots horse in the evening.

For weeks during the summer, I have been making 100 mile round trip to walk the beach about 6:30 in the mornings before the tourists trample over it. I have been searching for evidence of nests. I found numerous tracks and various holes dug, but no nests. With so many tourist, hotels, restaurants, beach parties so close to the beach front, it’s not very welcoming for turtles. However fiver Loggerheads did make successful nests and on the 1st of August Jim called me to say a nest was ready to hatch. I set off with my sleeping bag, snacks, torch and pen and paper to record the hatchings. Jim had scrapped a channel from the cage over the nest (put there to protect the eggs from foxes, other predators and to show the tourists, so they did not put beach umbrellas into the sand) down to the water’s edge making an easier exit for the tiny hatchlings. I was on watch with another couple, soon tiny turtles were pushing up through the sand, the nest is about one meter deep – so quite a climb. They are air breathing creatures but their lungs are closed until they reach the surface. We let them rest for a while in the cage, then covering a torch with red plastic bag shone the beam on the sand ahead of them, lighting their way to the sea. They scuttled down the channel, soon reaching the water where they disappeared. I was able to hold one briefly – what a wonderful experience!

I hoped this tiny creature would survive and, if female, would return in about 15 years, when mature, to lay eggs on Pissouri Beach. I also hoped the beach would still be there! That night only 7 came out, the following night 39. All the turtles in Pissouri are Loggerheads, the of the species and more common than the Green Turtle. It is estimated in the Mediterranean that there are between 4,000 and 5,000 Loggerheads but only 500- 1000 Green. However both are endangered.

The green lays about 120 eggs, taking up to three hours to dig her nest. Loggerheads lay an average 85 and take one hour. The nest is light-bulb shaped; eggs take between 44- 65 days to incubate, depending on sand warmth. The eggs nearest the top become females, the cooler, deeper eggs, males. They have an incredible desire to reach the sea following the light horizon, not necessarily the moonlight but any other light-buildings, street lights, cars will disorientate them and make them vulnerable to predators , dying of exhaustion, or getting lost.

On August 12th, Jim decided to excavate a nest which had produced hatchlings on the previous two nights. Forty two on the first and twenty one on the next night. The hatchlings at the bottom of the nest will be more tired than the earlier arrivals so may need a helping hand getting out through all the egg remains. At 5pm, in glorious sunshine and with an interested audience of sixty Brits and Cypriots, Jim carefully scraped away a layer of sand – suddenly a tiny grey head, resembling a pebble appeared, then a flipper, and once this one was clear of the chamber exit others soon followed. Jim gently scooped sand away and placed the babies into a sand filled bowl to rest and gives us all a chance to take photos and see these beautiful creatures close up! They were put into the prepared raked exit to the sea, so as not to get lost amongst all those tourists’ feet! They rapidly made their way to the sea. mini versions, beautifully patterned shells angled flippers and big eyes. We released 16 – very satisfying. Sadly three were dead in the bottom of the nest and two died earlier when emerging into the hot sun before we got to them. There were five infertile eggs, but seventy-nine live. We all wished them good luck!

I have been privileged to witness turtle hatchings on a number of occasions now and it is a humbling experience, which joins my other memories of swimming with dolphins, whale watching, holding snakes, a tarantula walking up my arm, and riding many horses worldwide. I am a very fortunate person.

The devastation of the beaches during the recent troubles in Lebanon is so upsetting. All those hatchlings will have died, probably before they ever reached the sea in the oil soaked beaches. That whole coastline may never recover. A tragic loss for the environment due to the stupidity of man. Also the terrible loss of the innocent lives of so many people.

If you would like to offer your help for next year, your services would be appreciated. Call Jim Carroll on 99462308 for advice and more information.

Images of Loggerhead Turtle:

Image:Loggerhead close up.jpg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

http://www.seaturtleinc.com/favicon.ico

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Picture, Loggerhead Sea Turtle Desktop Wallpaper, Free Wallpapers, Download, Animals – National Geographic

Things that everyone can do!!

Avoid driving on the Beach, especially at night.
Avoid using the Beach at night, especially with fires, torches or luminous mobile phones.
Be a responsible pet owner.
Take care when participating in water sports& keep your distance from Turtles if you see them.
Allways take your litter home.

Turtle Statistics

Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta)

Population: 4000-5000

Matures: 15 years

Minimum adult size: 60cm

Number of eggs in a nest: 85

Duration of nest digging: 1 hr

Nesting season: Mid June to end of August

Days to hatch: 44-65

This is the smaller of the two and is so named because it has a relatively large head. An opportunistic feeder whilst an infant, on reaching juvenile size it generally eats meat like crabs, urchins and jellyfish.

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Population: 500-1000

Matures: 25-30 years

Minimum adult size: 70cm

Number of eggs in a nest: 120

Duration of nest digging: 3 hr

Nesting season: Mid June to end of August

Days to hatch: 44-65

A larger species, this turtle is a little more sensitive to disturbance, more choosy about it’s nest sites and also rarer. During it’s infant stage it eats much the same as the Loggerhead but on reaching juvenile size it changes to a diet of sea-grass and algae.

by Shirley Spratley

Enjoying a Day in PaphosThis an article I wrote soon after moving to Cyprus. I thought it would be good to share here:

As the summer holiday makers start heading home, Paphos turns from a bustling Mediterranean destination back into a sleepy small town or as some say, a village. I have concluded my second consecutive summer here and anticipating the beauty of the coming autumn and winter seasons, I would like to share a few points about Cyprus for interested vacationers, people relocating and intending to buy property and live here, or anyone just interested in reading.

The thing that weighed heavy on my mind about moving to another country was learning a foreign language. Once my wife, son and I decided to move to Cyprus for the next few years and live close to our family I immediately purchased books for learning Greek. I feared the possibility of failure, but I approached it with determination and enthusiasm anyway. Unfortunately, the results were not good, any words learned were quickly forgotten. I hoped that maybe in Cyprus it would be easier. I was right, once we arrived I was able to pick up words much more easily and within weeks I had memorized forty words. At that pace by the end of the year I would be fluent which brings me to my first surprise.

My biggest surprise is that I now know less than I did before. The reasons are that most people speak English and many English speaking residents are not attempting to learn. I asked a few people about how good their Greek was, to see how long it usually takes to learn and to get some kind of average. I was very surprised to hear them tell me that they don’t speak and were not going to try. People who on first impression I would of picked as someone who would learn, and quickly had no interest. I have learned a lot since I have been here and I will learn Greek, I promise.

The second thing that concerned me was the anticipated culture differences or “shock” having come from the US. We were used to many things that are not available, (good and bad) but that’s another story. I feel no shock; of course we miss things such as the great television programming we were used to in America and the vast amount of choices. In Cyprus however, we have lots of real, quality, family time.

What is also surprising is the decline of the tourists in the non summer months. Yes, I know kids go back to school and parents get back to work however, to me everyone is coming here at the wrong time of year. The weather in Cyprus is absolutely wonderful all year round and the millions of tourists that visit this island only come when it’s absolutely blistering hot. The only thing to do at that time is to bear it and try and stay cool, and of course tan or burn which ever you prefer.

Living most of my life in Chicago and dealing with those types of harsh winters, I feel like I live in paradise during December and January. I sell homes and as I talk to home owners listing property with me to sell, I ask what kind of heating they own so we can write it in the description. I feel silly asking but not everyone is as immune to the cold as I am and the winters are seem mild to me anyway. One message that’s repeated on many websites promoting Cyprus is “340 days of Sunshine.” Well they are not lying and they need to push this message a little harder.

Another surprise is the actual population, or the lack of it. I must confess that I did a lot of research about the country, I looked at statistics regarding just about every aspect of the country and the region including history and especially business related issues, trying to figure out where my experience would be best fitted. I did not consider the small local population because the one time I visited Cyprus it was during the summer months and all the hotels, apartments and villas were full of people. I did not realize that they would only remain full for such a short time.

The cost of living was yet another shock. I thought coming from the U.S. to a small country meant a lower cost of living, especially since things I associated with higher standards such as fancy malls, theme parks, zoo’s, museums and theatres are not available in Cyprus. I accepted a high cost of living when I moved to Washington D.C. from Peoria, IL because there were reasons for the high price and I took advantage of them. In Cyprus, I couldn’t justify the even higher cost, until now.

What is it that makes Cyprus worth the price? The answer is of course my own personal beliefs obtained from observations and conclusions I feel strongly towards. First is the lack of crime, there is a feeling of safety that I have here that I never had anywhere. I forget to lock my house doors even when I leave to go far, I leave my car windows rolled down, and I don’t worry about my kids being abducted and other things you see in the news.

Second is the lack of pollution, not only are we in a country with the main source of revenue from tourism and agriculture, add the fact that we are in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, north of the least industrious continent Africa. I am not a scientist but I don’t see any obvious source of pollution and I feel the difference. The final point is the lack of time my family and I spend in traffic. There is no traffic, yes there are times when a driver might do something to delay a few drivers behind him or I see the occasional accident that has brought everyone to watch and wait for the policeman to arrive to record and measure all details for his report, but that only happened once and it lasted for five minutes. The time gained is spent doing meaningful things with family and friends in a stress free, unpolluted, beautiful part of the world.