Arsonists the prime threat to our forests!

This website predominantly features positive news, which promote the well-being of the Club’s members on our hikes. Permit me this exception, because news just released by the Government’s Forestry Department is simply shocking.

Out of 1327 fires in Cyprus over the 20-year period 2000 – 2021 25 % (337) were the result of arson! Further, a large proportion of the balance was the result of human negligence. About 14 % (180) were the consequence of natural causes (typically lightning strikes).

It is important to draw attention to the realization that as we go about our ordinary, law-abiding lives, our paths cross those of arsonists, in various forms of disguise. Stricter penalties from legislation is only part of the solution to the problem. Every sane, forest-loving individual has an obligation to react and speak out at every instance of compromising behaviour coming to our attention. Our hesitation to take the correct stance, our inclination to remain silent in such situations provide the excuses arsonists are looking for, to justify their crime.

Still unconvinced about the perils of silence and indifference? Read on.

In 1953 the well-known German playwright Max Frisch wrote The Arsonists (Biedermann und die Brandstifter) (in Greek Μπίτερμαν και οι Εμπρηστές), in which Biedermann, the protagonist, lets two arsonists into his house. He feeds them and lets them sleep in the attic, where they store gasoline canisters. Although the two terrorists actually tell Biedermann the truth about themselves, he does not believe them, and when they become overly demanding, he is too much of a coward to throw them out of his house. When asked, he even gives them matches with which they ignite the canisters and burn down not only Biedermann’s house but the whole town, setting in motion an armageddon.

Biedermann does not want to see the truth, although it is literally driven home to him, and in that he is reminiscent of the German attitude toward Adolf Hitler, who clearly laid out his intentions to wipe out the Jews in Mein Kampf and in his speeches. Hitler’s contemporaries did not take him and his threats against the Jews seriously; their naive disregard ultimately led to the Holocaust, which even the intellectuals did not foresee.

Reassuringly, the chorus in the play speaks out, informing that the happenings are not inevitable fate, but brought on by the people themselves: “For arson, once kindled, kills many, leaves few, and accomplishes nothing… Fate—so they call it!”.

Our forests need each one of us, and let this be your call to action! Thank you. The play was performed in Nicosia in the early 70’s and earlier this year in Athens. (Commentary about the play from an essay by Gerd K. Schneider). The photo above shows a sculpture in the village of Vavla, in memory of a large fire in 2000.

Glacier breaks off, 10 hikers dead

On Sunday 3 July 2022, in the early afternoon, a glacier in the Italian Dolomites broke off, causing the loss of the lives of 10 hikers. The incident was one more outcome of the ongoing phenomenon of global warming. This Club deplores the general lack of determination by the world powers, to reach consensus on an urgent corrective plan. We need actions, not declarations, from those in power.

The glacier had progressively become unstable, and the poor snow season last winter precipitated its collapse. Italian authorities had measured the loss of about 30% of the volume of glaciers, over a period of 10 years. The emerging picture is that glaciers have become too dangerous to explore on foot.

To help through the intense, often unlivable summer heat, here is a recommended relevant reading; a 2016 book by Italian Paolo Cognetti, titled Le otto montagne (The eight mountains). It is available also in Greek, from Patakis publishing firm. (Photo from The Guardian)

Good Friday Stroll: 8 Epitaphios in Old Nicosia

There was a flood of young people and people of other ages visiting the churches of Nicosia Within-the-Walls during the afternoon of Good Friday 22 April. Reviving an old custom, we venerated the Epitaphios in 8 churches: Chrysaliniotissa, Agios Kassianos, Phaneromeni, Trypiotis, Agios Savvas, Agios Philoumenos, Agios Antonios, Agios Varnavas (Cathedral). Enjoy the photos, compliments of Nicos. Best wishes for a Happy Easter.

A Hike to send one to sleep – Platania–Spilia 5 Feb.

A large and multinational group of Strollers brought their positive attitude and turned the hike along a rather unexciting path at Platania to a memorable experience, sufficient to help everyone sail through our ordinary week. Compliments to Anna for the beautiful photos. Don’t miss our cultural and romantic day out on 13 Feb. https://cyprus-strollers.org/activities-description/galata-cultural-romantic-stroll-sunday-13-feb/

Contact with nature reduces loneliness, study shows

Read this interesting piece of research from The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/dec/20/contact-with-nature-cities-reduces-loneliness-study-mental-health. I quote one finding: “when people were able to see trees or the sky, or hear birds, feelings of loneliness fell by 28%. Feelings of social inclusion also cut loneliness by 21%, and when these feelings coincided with contact with nature the beneficial effect was boosted by a further 18%”. Faithful of The Cyprus Strollers know about these positive outcomes very well.

Another Greek Tragedy

Readers know that the founder of this Club had founded the Athens Strollers, in his years in Greece. It is with great grief that I draw the words that follow. The wildfires in the outskirts of Athens are burning down a significant ‘lung’ of the Greek capital. Tatoi is a large forest, corresponding to what Athalassa is for Nicosia, but multiple times larger. Tatoi lies just below Parnitha, the main mountain overlooking Greater Athens.

You can imagine that there exist(ed) a good number of trails, which the Athens Strollers have walked time and again. With the present fires, it feels as if one part of myself and my memories is burning down. May this catastrophe end immediately and may it be the last one. (Photo credit Yiannis Kolesidis)

Hiking and Health Minister victims of lying Troodos trippers

The news has been widely circulated and commented. Day trippers to Troodos over the past two weekends had the almost sole purpose of taking photos of themselves on snow, as is a customary ‘sport’ among many city dwellers in Cyprus, when snow falls on Troodos. Caught by the police, they reported ‘hiking’ as the cause of their outing. This distortion forced the Minister of Health to ban hikes on the island’s nature trails on 27 Jan.

This Club can only abide by the rules, even when these are unjust. We hope the ban will be lifted soon. Until then, Club Members are urged to make use of city parks and seaside walks.

How Odd, No photos to boast

In these times of an almost manic pursuit of photos, to show one’s accomplishments (or agony), often shared on social media, here is a message to all Club members and friends, without a photo. It is prompted by an outing of Christos and Xenophon in the forest between Kakopetria and Prodromos, on 20 Dec., whose highlight was the very rare sighting of young mouflons! First, we saw a pair on the very dirt road we were using, some 25 m in front; minutes after we saw one on a slope to our left; and much later we saw another mouflon high up by a pine tree. It is impossible to have time to take a good photo, given that this rare species of wild sheep, endemic to Cyprus, does not like human presence. Nevertheless, the magic of the moments has been captured via the lenses of our eyes. This is just a tiny example of the splendid experiences The Cyprus Strollers offer their members.

We remain adherent to Government restrictions vis-à-vis the epidemic, yet optimistic we will be able to resume activities on 16 January. Visit https://cyprus-strollers.org/activities-schedule/ in a few days to read the full Schedule of events for January-May 2021. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year.