So yesterday I made a trip to Nicosia with Nancy. I had received an invitation to the US Embassy to celebrate the 4th of July and the 243rd anniversary of the founding of the United States. The event was actually celebrated on June 6th (D-Day), and so also celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Finally, there was also mention made of the 50th anniversary of the US crewed moon landing – a picture of the moon landing was on the front page of the invite. Since I had never actually been to an embassy event I was determined to go. Unfortunately the dress code was business professional which meant suit and tie. I spent a lot of time during my undergraduate years working as a sales associate at a retail jewelry store, and had to wear suit and tie. As a result, I really don’t like wearing one to work and seldom wear one, reserving it for special occasions. I realize that wearing jeans and a polo shirt doesn’t fit in with the traditional view of how an academic should dress, but …
Anyway, I really wanted to attend so I actually went to Larnaka last week and bought what I needed to wear. The US Embassy is located near one of our favorite restaurants the Syrian Friendship Club so I had driven by it before. I was amazed at how crowded it was, there must have been 500 people crowded into an outdoor garden area. It was hard to move around and you had to wait in a security line to enter the building. Inside in the outer courtyard they had a fancy Cadillac you could take your picture next to, and a silhouette of an astronaut on the moon with his face cut out that you could stick your head in so that you could take your picture of you as an astronaut.
The event started off by an address of the American Ambassador to Cyprus, Judith Garber. In addition to a number of references to the founding fathers and American history, she spoke about the strengthening ties of the US with Cyprus and concerns over the conflict between Turkey and Cyprus concerning natural gas drilling in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Cyprus. Here speech was followed by a speech by the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. His speech echoed the ambassador’s though it dwelt more on the drilling issue and how it could impact the energy corridor. So, there were about 20 minutes worth of speeches and then everyone was free to mingle.
I had two goals for the reception. One, to feel like James Bond attending the event (in my mind, and yes I realize I wasn’t wearing a tuxedo. Two, sample some very good or at least fancy food. The ambassador mentioned in her speech that Americans celebrate the Fourth of July with a cookout and that was the theme of the evening. There was a blues musician providing the music and American restaurants providing the food. There were tables set up for you to try out items from Jack Daniels, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, KFC, Pepsi, and dessert items from a Cypriot bakery – Zorba’s. There were servers circulating with wine and little fancy appetizers.
Needless to say, not what I was expecting. But I was hungry and decided to sample what the restaurants were serving. I was able to grab a slice of pizza and a glass of Pepsi fairly easily. I then tried to get to the Taco Bell table and was never able to get closer than two rows of people from it. I was stunned, I am usually very good at working my way through a crowd, but this was a total shutout. It was like when a team has fourth and goal from the one yard line and they send the running back into the middle of the line in an attempt to try to hammer it into the end zone only to meet everybody from the defensive line in the backfield and lose yards. I literally could not get closer than 5 feet from the food without hitting a wall. I backed off and tried it again several times with no success. This also happened over by KFC and Jack Daniels. I eventually settled for a slice of pizza, two cups of Pepsi, and three cookies.
All in all an interesting evening.