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Baths of Aphrodite – A salute to an old friend

Baths of Aphrodite – A salute to an old friend

Takis Takkas

Takis Takkas. May your memory live for ever.

Growing up (see old photos below) we used to come here to this spectacular part of the island, very close to the actual Baths of Aphrodite. This is where the mountain meets the crystal clear water. So clean, in fact, that you can see the rocks at the sea-floor. We used to camp at the site of Takkas Bay Restaurant.

This beautiful spot is situated past the fishing harbor of Latsi towards the tip of the Akamas peninsula. A natural pool grotto surrounded in greenery, the site lies at the end of a small nature trail. As its name suggests, the grotto is said to be where the Goddess of Love used to bathe. Myth also has it that this is where Aphrodite met her lover, the handsome Adonis, when he stopped off for a drink while hunting. The moment he drank the water, Adonis fell in love with the goddess.

This is where I used to disappear in the water, spear-fishing for hours. This is where we used to gaze the starts in our sleeping bags, right next to the water. Going fishing with my father’s little fishing boat, and doing trips to the big island further away where sea salt dries out and is picked-up in the Summer with ease. Also here is where I tasted …gazoline while trying to siphoning gas to fill-up the boat tank. Over the years I told stories to many people in Canada. Most sea-related stories where from this area. So, here’s another trip to memory lane. Coming back with Paress was simply a moving experience on its own.

But then it was Mrs. Maroulla, the taverna owner whom I visited many times even after we grew up and the camping stopped. (Later on we set tents right next to the water here.)  Last time I saw her was in the mid-90’s, before I left for Canada, a good 17 years ago. She lost her husband, the trademark of this place, Takis Takkas following a tragic accident 9 years ago. To this day she believes it wasn’t an accident. I wish her the best in her quest for the truth and I hope she finds closure and peace one day. I went straight for her in the kitchen. It took her 5 seconds to recognize me. Then, I hugged her and she burst into crying. We both did, and I am really glad Paress experienced this – we are a collective aggregation of our experiences, memories, the people we knew, the people we love although we haven’t seen for years. We didn’t just fall from the sky!

Then it was her youngest daughter, Katerina. Back then she had just been born, now, a beautiful grown-up woman, who took over most of her father’s occupations. “You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I do!”, I said, and hugged her. “Sit with me, I want to tell you about your father”.

He used to come early in the morning to start the electric generator. (No electricity in that isolated part of the island back then.) Then, lighting up the wood oven to prepare the “ofton kleftikon”, a Cyprus slow-cooked meat delicacy. Then working like a dog all day long at the restaurant, to wrap-up with a huge ball of spaghetti, and dance on the tables having fun with the tourists in the evening. A refugee from Northern Cyprus, Takis Takkas lost everything during the war of 1974, yet he managed to survive and thrive on the south part of the island. To me, he has always been was a profound case study of perseverance, a representation of indomitable spirit and thirst for life.

This time around I met new people, the staff all new of course, students in their teen years, but also a passionate compatriot from mainland Greece, Giannis, who lives in Cyprus for many years now. They treated us to the amazing Cyprus souvla all the way until the whee hours. Paress loved it!

THANK YOU guys for your amazing hospitality. Thank you Mrs. Maroulla, and Giannis and the cook – sorry I didn`t catch your name, and the rest of the gang. And `thank you` Katerina from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to become one again with your family and share a few moments of joy and happiness at the place I so much loved during my youth and beyond. Your father`s spirit was indeed all around! My wife and I would be delighted to reciprocate in Canada – please do stop by when you visit your sisters in N. York, or during any other occasion.

Traveler of Cyprus, if you find yourself at this part of the island, do give Katerina a call at the taverna, 06-321087 and visit the spectacular Takkas Bay Restaurant.