It was a dark and stormy night in Kathmandu… a decade of escalating warfare, low-flying helicopters, bangs and shouts, shortages of everything from electricity to food had shattered my nerves, and my hopes for a beloved country.
A chance email changed all this: You’d love Cyprus, writes my ex-husband, on winter holiday with his octogenarian mother. Cyprus? I’d thought vaguely of Greece, perhaps Spain, as alternatives to snow-bound winters at my cabin in Norway, but there had never been any urgency..until now.
Checking the Net whenever the electricity functions, I discover that not only does Cyprus boast the warmest winters in the Mediterranean, it also abounds in properties for sale. Finally I find in Chris Calogirou an agent who understands my wish: a quiet place with charm. No frills. Between 10 February and 3 April, we exchange over 50 chatty emails – but properties? ‘Wait till you get here’, he advises.
Thursday/Friday: On standby and as the sole passenger among 13 armed guards I reach the airport as curfew falls on Nepal’s biggest-ever strike.
Monday morning: Domenica drives me up into the hills. With breaks to raid the almond groves and photograph the wild flowers, we turn off onto a local road. As we round a bend, I shout Stop! This is it! Red tiled rooves dot the steep hillside, with Troodos as backdrop. A wild poppy flames from a roadside vineyard.
OK, I’d better see the house first, I concede. Down the narrow street, then a series of steps. The valley unfolds below us. Behind blue gates is my Dream House, a renovated stone cottage. Tiny village. Friendly people. Peace and quiet. I have never looked back.