Manual Transmissions and Halloumi

I am sitting at an umbrellaed garden table in the small courtyard of the gorgeous summer house that has been loaned to us for the duration of our stay here in Oroklini, a small town just outside of Larnaka. I make a note to myself to always lay a feast for visitors when they come to stay with us. I sit here eating fresh watermelon and the salty, chewy Cypriot cheese, haloumi. It has been available in Houston for some time now, but I have never eaten it with watermelon. As many times as Tina’s family has suggested it, I have resisted the pairing of salty and sweet…the contrast of textures. Today, I am wondering why. They are perfect together. It is watermelon season in Houston (probably everywhere). If I were there, I would make a feast of these two items and invite you over. All of you.

I can see, from where I am sitting, the car that I drove here from the airport. I was not expecting to drive at all, but the rental car reserved for us was too small to fit us AND our luggage. I realized half the way to the house that:

  1. I have never driven in another country.
  2. I am driving a manual transmission for the first time in over 25 years and
  3. I have no way to contact anyone should I get separated from the three car convoy heading to a house I don’t have any information on.

Despite this, I was actually relaxed for the entire thirty minute drive. But still I glance over to the car now, as if I need confirmation that I actually did that. And it makes me laugh. I’m glad I didn’t know that this would be necessary.

The kids are immediately whisked away by Photos, the son of our hosts, for a tour of Larnaca and I am deeply grateful to him. He is an accomplished musician, about 30 years old and is currently in the process of writing a musical. As they walk out to the car the conversation moves to iPods and pop music. Had I wished for the perfect afternoon host for our gang, he could not have been more perfect than Photos. I lean back in my chair with a feast before me and Tina beside me, and melt into a perfect moment under flower vines and palm fronds.



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