What I Saw

01 Dec 2023

Alfred Westholm

Writing to his parents, the Swedish archaeologist Alfred Westholm expressed his inner thoughts about Vouni and the locals working with him.

May 12 1929:

Now I shall write something of what has happened after Easter. The first thing to tell is that Vivi has come up here to stay for at least a week and what that means to me I am sure you understand. John too is here still to finish his plans of the palace. We lead a very quiet life with what is now our well-practiced Vouni customs. It is so very nice to see how well Vivi enjoys it up here far from all the tasks of the household and children. The sense of isolation and freedom does not go unnoticed by anyone who has really immersed themselves in Vouni. I wonder if this divine place does not mean almost as much to her as it does to me. She has also been here from the beginning and set her stamp on life up here. Among the workers, she is called βουνίτισσα and in the nearby villages, everyone knows who she is. In living conditions such as ours here one either becomes very distant from or very close to one another. It is difficult to explain why. It is so extremely difficult to hide one’s inner self from those who are constantly watching one, and things are thereby revealed, which quite forcefully either repel or bring together. I do not think I am wrong if I say that the latter applies in an unusually high degree to the Vounites. We give one another the best we have and receive from others the best they have. These are the necessary feelings that the landscape and the Vouni mood have created. Even the Greeks feel that a miracle could happen here. Kristos said once to me in his primitive way: ‘I think that everyone has gone through a big change up here but no one in his soul has become worse as a person.’ And how would that ever be possible here on Vouni! Maybe for all of us, Vouni remains life’s great experience.

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

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