Saturday, 1 December 2012

Saturday - Akamas Clean Up...

We were taking part in our first sortie as members of the ACT (Akamas Cleanup Team) today.  We had missed the inaugural cleanup in September as we had Jane and John coming to stay with us so we were keen to pull our weight this time.

It was a dry and bright morning but we were uncertain as to whether there might be a chilly wind coming off the sea so we dressed in layers and apparently this is what a discerning beach cleaner wears nowadays!!!  I was armed with my new gloves - courtesy of Jumbo's and my pickup stick which turned out to be more trouble than it was worth unfortunately.

Our team leader Keith Watkins leaves nothing to chance with his emails so we knew that we were scheduled to clean the North Beach of Gerannisos and then if there was time to tackle the South Beach but there had been some rain recently and so the tracks down to the beach might be difficult to pass or indeed impassable.  He had supplied all sorts of information including maps and we had arranged with Running John and Running Susan that they would come to pick us up at 9.30am.  They didn't mind driving if John acted as navigator as it is so easy to get lost on the back roads of the Akamas.

They arrived at 9.30 in their lovely shiny red truck and as you can see from the sky is was turning into a glorious day so our layers were probably unnecessary but you know what it is like - if you don't have them you need them and if you do you don't!!  We packed up all our bits and pieces including our packed lunches and my John took up his position as wing man to Running John.  Our journey was about 13 kilometers as the crow flies...

...we did not travel as the crow flies, we traveled on a road that wound its way round and round the side of a mountain and came face to face with the runners taking part in the Cyprus half marathon!!!  How the hell did that happen???????  There were no signs, no roads cordoned off and nowhere for us to turn round so you can imagine how surprised the runners were to have to negotiate with a big red truck bearing down towards them.  On the plus side it allowed us to see close up Simon who was participating and cheer him on enthusiastically on the minus side it was pretty hairy when we had to pass by the ambulance vehicles who were interspersed amongst the runners.

We eventually got through this unexpected obstacle and carried on down the road until we found a sign post inviting us to turn left for Peyia which seemed odd as Peyia seemed to be the wrong direction (little did we know) or right for Neo Chorio and all Keith's instructions mentioned a road from Neo Chorio.  Our map indicated a left turn at some point but not where we thought we were at the moment.  How wrong could we be???  We should have taken the left turn to Peyia as the bit of coastline is deemed to be near Peyia Forest and therefore Peyia district.  What should have taken us about 30 minutes max took us an hour and a half but through some really spectacular scenery.  Thank God we were in the truck as some of the roads were very dodgy indeed and thank God that Running John is so laid back.

We tried to contact Keith to let him know what had happened but signal strength in the Akamas can be variable to say the least but we did managed to get a message to him and a message back to say that the roads to the original beach were impassable and that they were at a different beach further North and he had left clear signage on the road.  Once we got our bearings at Fontana Amorosa (some way further North than we needed to be) we eventually caught up with the cleaning crew and you can see Running John's opinion of my John's map reading skills - in fairness the maps we had were worse than useless and we will know for another time - plus there was that lovely scenery...

We aren't sure of the name of the beach which we cleaned but it was beautiful if you could look beyond the crap that had either been dumped there or washed up.  In all twenty five willing volunteers armed with bags suppled by the Community Board of Neo Chorio rolled up their sleeves and set to work.  It was a stunning day and there was no cold wind from the sea so our layers were confined to the truck.  We apologised for our late arrival but the team members come and go to suit themselves so Keith was just glad for our help as long as he had it.

When we stopped for lunch we were joined by Orexi Elena and her three children who had come to join in the adventure.  They probably don't appreciate it at the moment but they will never know how lucky they are to have the childhood that they enjoy.  They have such freedom and spend so much time outside in beautiful surroundings.  They were armed with gloves - a million sizes too big and seemed particularly interested in the bones that were one the beach which John tried to convince them were human!!!  Whatever they were they had been picked clean by the elements!

The beach looked stunning by the time we came to leave although some of the others stayed on way after us and continued clearing some of the shrub land adjoining the coast.  I know that people will say that people using the beach should be more responsible for their rubbish but I am not entirely sure that what was on the beach was more likely to have been washed up as this was quite remote so not one that it overly used.  Plastics manufacturers have a lot to answer for and you wouldn't believe how many cigarette lighters and cyalume's we found.

When we left, Running John loaded up the back of his van with our bags and many others to drop them off at the collection point up the road.  That was a laugh as we kept losing bags as we went over bumps!!  We kept saying that the whole day had been a right old laugh - even when we were out in the deepest darkest part of the Akamas able to see the coast but not able to get to it.  We said it would provide us with one of those 'Remember When?...' conversations.  The next clean up is scheduled for sometime in January - weather permitting and we have heard from Keith that our happy band managed to clear 120 10 litre bags of rubbish - how fab is that!!

If you are thinking of volunteering - do it!

1 comment:

  1. Well Done - lovely to recognise so many faces.

    Wendy and Bill