What I Saw

07 Apr 2023

Alfred Westholm, a member of the Swedish Archaeological Expedition to Cyprus, wrote to his parents in July 1928:

Alfred Westholm, a member of the Swedish Archaeological Expedition to Cyprus, wrote to his parents in July 1928:

The first Vouni campaign is nearing an end. My Cyprus stay seems not to have amounted to one year yet, I feel as though it is ten, or more rightly, I have no clear sense of it at all. The autumn term at Karavostasi remains in my mind like a nightmare with no end. From the winter in Nicosia, I have very mixed memories. Milia was a curious phase of preparation for the experience of the Oriental spring. Despite this, the months of March and April were my most dismal period here in Cyprus, yes, so dark that I prefer not even to think of it.

Vouni followed immediately upon this and with it the start of a new life. Vouni is all too large and divine to alter its appearance in any noticeable way with the changing seasons. Vouni is now exactly as it was at the beginning of May when we came here. The tents are in the same positions, and outside my own, the same old rigid statues. As on the very first evening, today too I have seen the proud shadow of Vouni spread over the landscape and fade away up toward the Nicosia plain. I still have my walk each evening as in the first week, around to the different places up here on the top plateau, and many times I still lie on my belly at the farthest edge of the cliff to peer down into the valley, while the rays of the evening sun shift as they disappear. And same as in the first days, now too I sit down alone each evening to supper under the haroupia tree – but what an astonishing turnaround all my inner thoughts have taken since then!

Perhaps the present Alfiros is older and more serious, but he is calmer and happier. The harmony of the Vouni landscape these three months has now completely permeated me, and I live a life altogether free of inner agitation. I have wondered many times how the memory of Vouni is going to be to me in the future. A thing that in real life is already so endlessly beautiful and harmonious, what will it be like when my imagination will have had some years to embellish and enhance it. May nothing come to pass that could ruin or drag down the memory of Vouni just as it is now for me, the memory not of a place or of a meaningful moment in my life, but of a state of being, a harmonious state of mind! If I can retain this, I shall really have something of permanent value.

While we were still down at Karavostasi, Einar used to call Vouni “the mountain of our dreams”.

The Mountain of our Dreams, 1928. Photo Birgitta Lindros.

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

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