Voices from the village Lofou, Cyprus - Yiannakis Charalambous & Maria Nicolaou Papaioannou

Lofou (Greek: Λόφου) is a village in the Limassol District of Cyprus, located about 25 km northweast of Limassol.

A 2001 population census recorded that Lofou had ten (10) permanent inhabitants. On Saturday, 9 July 2016, and as part of the Xarkis Festival, we had a chat with two of them, Yiannakis Charalambous & Maria Nicolaou Papaioannou...

Yiannakis and Maria in their courtyard from where they run a little souvenir shop during the summer months.

"[Yiannakis] I was born in Lofou in 1945... I only completed the second year of the primary school in Lofou... On one occasion, the teacher hit my legs with a stick because I was not good with maths... I had an argument with him and I left... My parents moved me to Ypsonas at the periphery of the town where I completed the rest of my primary education... My parents used to come and go, spending some time down in Ypsonas and some time up here in the village..."

1913. Far left, the baby is Yiannakis' father at the age of two (2). In the middle, the great-grandfather and great-grandmother. Photo taken in Lofou.

"[Yiannakis] ...My father sold some land and bought an agricultural tractor... Driving the tractor became his occupation... He was also a farmer..."

Late 1930s, Yiannakis' father Charalambos and mother Maria when they were engaged.

"[Yiannakis] ...I was only six (6) months at high school... I was not good at it... In any case, my parents had to pay at that time and they could not afford it... What I do remember is that the English used to teargas the high school... Eventually, I bought a lorry and became a lorry driver delivering agricultural products all around Cyprus... I did that for twenty-seven (27) years..."

Yiannakis and Maria were married in 1970. Above photo taken in 1969 before the wedding.

"[Maria]... I was born in 1944... I liked school... I was very good at it. I completed the primary school here in Lofou... But due to strong objections from one of my brothers I never got to complete high school... I still regret it until this day..."

"I liked school... I was good at it... [Maria]"

"[Maria] ...My mother had twelve (12) children... I was the last one... Only seven (7) survived... The five (5) that died did so before they reached the age of three (3)... There were no doctors here..."

Maria (left) looking after the baked bread that mother (right) brings out of the oven.

"[Maria] ...I never liked it downtown in Ypsonas... I always wanted to come back to Lofou... I would cry and tell my parents to bring me back to the village... But even when we got married, we lived down there and not in the village... "[Maria] ...We have two daughters... [Yiannakis] ...It would have been good to also have a son..."

Right, Maria at the age of fifteen (15).
Ypsonas, west of Limassol. North-west Lofou.

"[Maria] ...The last few years we come up to Lofou as often as possible... Certainly in the summer... We bought this house many years ago and fixed it up... It is not our family house because that one had to be divided between all seven (7) brothers and sisters..."

Inside the house of Maria and Yiannakis in Lofou.

"[Maria] ...Things are changing. In the past, the people of this village would pull down their houses and take the wood and stones down to Ypsonas to build their houses... In the last few years they are all coming back to renovate their village houses... In any case, the Virgin Mary will not let Lofou disappear..."

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