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Monday, March 17, 2008

Romantic representations in guidebook writing: case study #2

The Cypriot village of Lefkara, pictured here and in the previous two posts, is an old village of stone buildings that have been beautifully restored. Known for its lace, its tiny hilly streets are lined with shops selling the exquisite handmade embroidery (along with imported, manufactured reproductions.) The road leading to town is lined with enormous tacky signs saying telling you to “Park here!” and Come inside and watch old women make lace!” If you ignore the signs and drive on, you’ll most likely be confronted by touts furiously waving to get your attention only to tell you it’s impossible to drive your little car through the extremely narrow streets of the village and that you’re better off parking here – conveniently, outside the entrance to his restaurant. Ignoring him, you’ll push on, finding out that the lanes are no narrower than those of any other Cypriot village, but discovering that the old ladies are just as aggressive at encouraging you into their stores as the touts are, making shopping for lace suddenly unappealing. On your way out of town you’ll look back with disappointment, until you notice the picturesque village vista and won’t be able to resist parking to take a photo. Once out of the car, however, you won’t help but notice the abandoned junk scattered about the place (rusty fridges are common) and the trash sprawling down the hill, as if dumped there daily by the local garbage truck. This is a typical sight outside villages in Cyprus that you definitely don’t read about in guidebooks. The first time you see it you’ll be disappointed and you’ll probably find yourself getting angrier each time you see it after that. But what do you prefer to read? The romantic version or the reality?

2 comments:

zoe krylova said...

thank you for mentioning the pollution issue is cyprus. it makes me so sad. i found the nasty plastic shopping bag to be the main offender this time around. washed up to shore on the larnaca bay. strewn across a meadow of mustard flowers on the way to kantara castle. caught in tree branches and brambles and gutters.

laradunston said...

Yes, it's a shame, isn't it? It's such a beautiful country. And they spend so much money promoting tourism all around the world. They really need to throw some of those euros toward cleaning up the country.