I lived in Kyrenia, Cyprus in 1974 when the Greek Coup and subsequent invasion by Turkey rained harm on my idyllic life and that of all people who considered Cyprus their home. I have written a memoir (The Lullaby Illusion—https://susanjoycejourneys.com ) about this period of my life and what I have learned from this experience—a journey of awakening, of realizing how the world works or doesn’t, and why these tragedies occur again and again leaving graveyards of civilizations.
These stark and stunning photos of abandoned places tell amazing stories of human lives and livelihoods lost, and civilizations in chaos. All speak of life interrupted—by wars, disasters, the collapse of commerce. Most occurred when governments and industries made decisions that rained harm. Only one of these abandoned places—the picturesque Italian village of San Pietro die Monti—was caused by a natural disaster, when a series of earthquakes struck the area. People, governments, corporations, and their decisions have caused the tragedies that struck the others.
My hope is that these photos will educate people on the injustices that occur on our planet—on our watch—inflicting great injury to all for decades to come.
Inspirational speaker, author, and family friend, Jake French, coined this phrase after a devastating accident and spinal cord injury in 2008 left him a quadriplegic. From one instant to the next—turn, turn—his life drastically changed and in the first few days both he and his family felt hopeless. Then Jake chose to get out of the “pity-pit” and live his life to its fullest by focusing on the positive.
And so when our carefully planned schedule recently came to a screeching halt—when our son Jesse fell down steep stairs and broke his left ankle exactly one week before a trip to the States where he had hoped to start a new life on his own—I reminded him of Jake’s horrific accident.
“A bad fracture,” the doctor told Jesse. “Surgery was successful because the operation was done in a timely fashion, restoring normal anatomy and assuring normal function of the leg.” The doctor went on to explain that Jesse was lucky because it could have been a much worse accident. He told Jesse that he’d need to stay off the leg for several months and wear a cast for at lest four. The first few days in the hospital were the worst for Jesse as he sorted through the whole inconvenient ordeal of not being able to walk. He also worked through a range of emotions as he questioned why this was happening to him.
Being a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and to everything there is a season—turn, turn—I tried to console Jesse by sharing my philosophy and belief that every cloud has a silver lining. He’s heard this one from me before. We talked about how inconvenient mishaps, that stop us in our tracks, can move us forward or backward in life—depending on our attitude. Problems and difficult times can lead us to better days if we learn from the mishap. To which he replied, “I guess I wasn’t meant to leave Uruguay now, for whatever reason.” By the time Jesse arrived home, he seemed accepting of his fate and changed by the ordeal.
Jake’s tragic mishap made him realize the importance of turning “excuses into expectations” through positive attitude, focus, and choice. Jake’s living his best life—and sharing with others what’s possible when one refuses to accept limitations and instead focuses on the challenges and choices life presents. Thanks Jake!
Stuart Wilde, the great metaphysical teacher and writer has passed on. May he rest in peace knowing his steady light brightened the way to my awakening. His philosophy and writings have greatly influenced my life and my works. Thank you Stuart Wilde for sharing your thoughts with others. Link to Stuart Wilde site
I lived in Kyrenia, a northern coastal village where colorful fishing boats bobbed in the azure blue Mediterranean bay. Known as the jewel in the crown of the island of Cyprus, it seemed the perfect paradise as I walked most days down the cobblestone roads to a local bakery, a market, the beach, or to meet friends for lunch in the old harbor.
On 15 July 1974 my life in paradise was shattered by a military coup d’état to overthrow the sitting president, Archbishop Makarios. Stuck in Nicosia, near the airport, in the middle of the chaos with tanks firing around me, I sought shelter with friends in their apartment. A curfew was in place, so I couldn’t return to my home in Kyrenia until the curfew was lifted on the 17th for a few hours, so that people could shop for food and supplies. Escorted by a friend with the UN, I drove back to my home in Kyrenia.
Banks were still closed. And in 1974, ATMs didn’t exist for people to rush to and form long queues to drain the machine dry. No way for anyone to take money out, until the government allowed the banks to reopen. I listened along with other shocked people as the radio reported that the Ministry of Finance announced that Cyprus’ banks would remain shut to give regulators time to guard against a run on deposits. Deposits? Surely they meant to say a run on withdrawals.
When banks finally opened their doors for business on the 18th, I joined others in a long line outside the bank to get my money out. I drained my account knowing my paradise was coming to an end. I filled the car tank with gas, paid a neighbor to look after my cat, indefinitely, gave her money to purchase cat food for six months, and helped friends financially who didn’t get their cash out.
On 20 July 1974, Turkey invaded and all hell broke loose as we dodged bullets and bombs to survive the war (avoiding becoming what is now called ‘collateral damage’ — in other words, dead.)
On 23 July, we were rescued and airlifted off the island.
Cyprus was an awakening for me on many levels. I lost everything I owned, escaped with the clothes on my back, and felt grateful to be alive. Others weren’t so lucky.
Cyprus also taught me that doomsday can happen anywhere, at any time — a natural disaster, a financial disaster, the loss of a home. The important thing is to be aware and plan, so that your assets don’t all sit in one basket under one government.
No wonder the people of Cyprus are frustrated, furious. Governments no longer work for the people, they work for the banks.
It originated as I struggled in my search for answers, my attempt to fit together pieces of a life shattered by the coup in Cyprus on 15 July 1974, followed five days later by the Turkish invasion on 20 July 1974. Thousands of lives were drastically changed forever by the atrocities, including foreigners who happened to live there.
Of which I was one.
For years following the war, I marveled, bewildered, at how a tranquil place – which seemed like paradise – could simply go away, rendered a living hell in the space of a few days…
I had an idyllic childhood, but as a kid, I didn’t know it. As the matter of fact I was convinced that the spaceship had left me in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong family.
Only now, years later, do I realize how fortunate I was to be born into a family who loved and nurtured me to the best of their ability during my formative years. My father was a preacher and passed on his strict religious beliefs in sermons and around the kitchen table. So there were many things we weren’t allowed to do. No television. No cussing, no dancing (unless it was in the spirit), to name a few.
But we were encouraged to read, to write, to sing, to play a musical instrument (my mother played piano), and to spend play time in the big outdoors. Cowboys and Indians with my brothers and sisters, along the slopes of a wash located near our house was a favorite pastime. Our elaborate forts were built to last forever, or until the next flash flood suddenly washed them away.
My dog, Brownie, a brown-and-white-spotted dalmatian with bad breath, was my constant companion. He’d follow me deep into the desert, exploring nooks and crannies, as we made our way to the top of a large, flat, always hot rock—our secret spot. We would sit for hours watching magic happen. From our high perch, we surveyed the groves of barrel cacti and watched cars wind their way up the road past Sabina Canyon, to Mount Lemon. We watched rocks grow and cactus flowers bloom and die. Communicating with nature, I felt at one with everything around me. I watched, listened, and dreamed, as I patiently waited on the spaceship to return. My imagination went wild and a voice within encouraged me to dream on.
That was my childhood. Idyllic for a creative soul. My first short story, about my dog Brownie and his bad liver breath was imagined and developed on that hot rock. It won first place in a school competition when I was in the fourth grade. And a voice within encouraged me to write on. So I do.
Looking back, was your childhood idyllic to get you where you are today? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your thoughts right here in my comment section.
Excited to let you know we are almost there! The ebook versions and available print book of The Lullaby Illusion, a memoir of life and love in wartime, cold war in continental Europe and hot shooting war in Cyprus, will be released in early May. Available at your favorite online bookstore as an ebook or for order as a trade paperback. Your local bookstore will be able to get it through their regular distributors if they aren’t stocking it.
Pre-orders should be available soon, and we’ll have the links right here on the site. Plus the cover photo, and more, as soon as we have that ready.
Love to get your feedback and questions after, or during, reading it. Meanwhile, please explore the information about Cyprus and the other lands that are the backdrop of my journey.
I recently had a wonderful day in Uruguay’s famous resort city, Punta del Este, meeting with authors Cherie Magnus and Lisa Marie Mercer. Lisa did a writeup via her Uruguay Expat Life blog. Cherie, who teaches tango in Buenos Aires and has her own fascinating memoir, The Church of Tango, has a site and blog at tangocherie.blogspot.com.