punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,
punkwalrus
punkwalrus

Memories of Varosha


varosha
Originally uploaded by windarkwingod
I am reading a a book called "The World Without Us," which is a book that takes an honest and frank look at humanity's impact on the Earth. I have thought it was so arrogant for the human race to do all this "Save the Earth" stuff, because, honestly, it's about "Save Ourselves." That's cool, but frankly, the Earth will do just fine no matter what we do. In fact, we could nuke the surface flat and wipe out all life down to a mile below... and the Earth would recover. It has before. And will do so again.

But one of the items mentioned in the book close to my heart is Varosha. See, I was born just a few miles from there. It was a resort on the island of Cyprus. When my mother was alone and pregnant with me, she would often go to the beaches of Varosha, and while I was growing up, she always spoke fondly of the place. But sadly, in 1974, there was this huge Turkish and Greek conflict, and the city was abandoned rather abruptly as the Turks advanced. So abruptly, it's kind of like a modern Pompeii. As in, food was left on tables, clothes on the line, and there's a famous Toyota dealership in town that proudly displays the new 1974 line of cars in the window. Few people have returned there since. Those that have report an eerie calm in the sunny Mediterranean sun, which due some poor planning, the high rises block the beach of any sunlight after 1pm (my mother liked that, actually).

The only people that have inhabited the streets since that day are Turkish soldiers who are ordered "shoot to kill," pretty much. While a lot of Cyprus is starting to renew itself after a few dark decades of bitter conflict, the Turkish army controls the Varosha completely. Today Varosha is not accessible by anyone except Turkish military and UN personnel, and the buildings are slowly falling apart.

On the positive side, rare sea turtles have begun nesting on the deserted beaches.

Another example of how aggressively resistant nature is despite everything is the city of Pripyat, which I have mentioned before. For those who think that's a Polish meat pudding or something, Pripyat is actually an abandoned city in the Zone of alienation in northern Ukraine and was abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. Since almost no human is ever allowed in that area, wildlife has come back with amazing speed. Yes, much of it gets damaged from radiation, but it keeps surviving. Even large species of storks, beavers, eagles, deer, and even wolves have been reported on the site.
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