What I Saw

21 Απρ 2023

Alfred Westholm gives lyrical descriptions of his beloved Vouni in 1928

Alfred Westholm gives lyrical descriptions of his beloved Vouni in 1928

It is Sunday today. I am sitting outside under the haroupia tree writing home. Solon has returned to his home, Lazaros has been moved to Dali, his replacement and Kristos have gone down to Karavostasi. Sofokles is lying down, “taken gravely ill”, in any case, he fills the air with his deathlike wheezing and his despairing gruntings. This, though, is not unusual these days. He probably drank too much sifania last night, a drink so strong it is flammable. His wife Eleni, who otherwise does not particularly like him, is nonetheless caring for him with great tenderness.

Today I have done what I was so longing for, namely to sleep late. It was nine o’clock before I freed myself from my mosquito net, under which I sleep only sheathed in pyjamas. After a meticulous morning toilet, I took breakfast this time with my face turned toward Petra tou Limniti. The most delightful sea winds swept up the Vouni slopes, made the tent cloths flutter and the haroupia tree sings its old dear song that it learned a long time ago when Vouni saw her golden days, the time of remarkable excavation finds every day and tables set for meals, loaded under dishes of food and the elbows of numerous guests. No one gives a thought to Vouni any longer.

Dali has at least partially taken over the leadership in archaeological news, and guests no longer gather at Vouni. No, at least for the time being, but our Mountain of Dreams has become Macheras, where as soon as this campaign is completed, we will be taken, exhausted, to find rest and care from tender female hands, and evenings with the gramophone striking up music in the most enticing rhythms. From the spot where I take my afternoon tea down by the necropolises, I have an excellent view of both of these “mountains of dreams”. Nearest, just across a small valley, rises the mighty characteristic silhouette of Vouni. To the right of that rises the entire mass of Tróodos, but in the gap just between these two, one can see a pointed mountain far off at the horizon. That is the top of Choni, the site of our summer cottage. But perhaps Vouni will yet see another golden time. Perhaps the Archaic palace will be dug out and, in that case, we shall build a little house for the expedition.

I see in my mind great hordes of workers with tools and wagons milling about the rooms of the palace. In long files, the cars wind their way up from the plane carrying guests from near and afar, and brilliant parties will be arranged in the great palace halls of Filokypros. Word of the old and the new Aipea will spread across the land, and the world will be amazed at the things they hear told from here. But while the frolicking guests enjoy themselves down in the palace ballrooms, Alfiros wanders out to one of his favourite places, in quiet solitude savouring long gazes far over the landscape, now many times enlarged by the moonlight, and attempting to discern in his ear the waves from the always slightly restless, yet ever soothing sea.

The 'What I saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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