Friday, 9 October 2015

Fist Full of Euros

It's high noon. The heat is baking. You have just strolled into a sleepy mountain village. The square is cobbled, a church on the left hand side where a few locals are sat nearby in their rocking chairs as they eye you up.  All that is missing are a few dry tumbling weeds. You can hear the theme tune from one of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns in your head, 'Wah Waaah WAAH!'...

Suddenly you are flanked by two grinning grannies from rivalling textile museums. The tension is palpable. Both have pulled their weapons, their hands, and start beckoning wildly and crying, 'Come look, come!' Caught in the middle, who do you visit first? Welcome to the battle of the loom weavers.

This is the situation you will find yourself in if you ever visit the town of Fyti on the island of Cyprus.

I visited the museum on the left first, just because it was closer. She showed me how she spun thread from a silk cocoon on to a drop spindle. After which I was instructed to 'look' at pretty much every item in the shop. There was much to browse over but I settled on a cream and brown woven cloth which I thought was pretty and reasonably priced.

Before I left the shop, I was offered a sweet. It was chewy and had an almond in the middle. I still don't know what it is called but it looks very much like a sausage! At this point, the lady next door whisked me away to her café next door where I enjoyed a coffee.
Next stop, the museum across the road. Again I was shown that she could spin thread on a drop spindle. Then she clutches the bag with the cloth from across the road and states as a matter of fact, 'China.'

Her husband explained that you can tell if an item has been made in Cyprus if the thread is tied off on the back of the cloth as that shows it has been done by hand.

He says it's OK if you like an import but he says you should be told that it is one before buying. At this point his wife starts pointing out which items she has made and which are from China. I purchased a lovely bright pillow case which she wove on her loom.

The Lonely Planet guide book did warn of imports (although it didn't detail what signs to look for) but it certainly didn't prepare me for the enthusiasm of the entrepreneurial women of the village. I would like to think that both weavers get together after they shut up shop and have a chuckle at the café over how they have played the tourists off each other to make money! Both were so friendly and welcoming and had made many lovely things. It would have been difficult to not purchase something from each of them.

I really enjoyed the visit to Cyprus, it's a beautiful country and would recommend it to others.


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