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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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By George Psyllides PRIVATE auditors have expressed doubt the electricity authority (EAC) could be considered a going concern and have asked its board to draft a credible plan to tackle the problem, according to the auditor-general’s 2012 report on the semi-state company. Among other issues, ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Playing table tennis with snakes… ]

Playing table tennis with snakes…

THE GENTLE Buddhist gardener in our Bangkok apartment block would start his day at 6am, burning incense in a small shrine in the garden, offering fragrant frangipani flowers to the small bronze Buddha and placing a few tasty sweets at his feet with a humble bow. He would then perform his daily ritual. Like an accomplished Italian eating spaghetti, he roamed the flowerbeds, winding snakes onto a stick and tossing them unceremoniously into the next-door neighbour’s garden. It was against his principles to kill them.

Living next to a klong was a breeding ground. Hooded headed cobras to small bright green tree snakes, they all passed silently through the garden. I was never convinced by those who told me that snakes were shy and hard to see. They appeared to love wandering towards the pool in the early evening to take the waters or curling delicately around bougainvillaea on the balconies.

Of around the 3,000 snakes that exist in the world only about 15 per cent are poisonous. So why do they have the power to stop us in our tracks? Is it the speed at which they move? Or the fact they are carnivorous? Or their ability, like master magicians, to disappear before our eyes, yet leave the impression they are still watching us?

It was last summer, in Surrey, that I went to pick up the garden hose only to find its nozzle turn on me: a four-foot grass snake, thick and coiled. It took its time to slither into the undergrowth. But, however hard I searched for it, to prove to the family it wasn’t an optical illusion, it had gone.

So it was with shock as I wandered barefoot down the steps on Saturday in the south Peloponnese, to see a thin, metre-long, grey snake climbing towards me. We both froze. I am told they smell with their fork tongues. His came out a few times, and then faster than I could imagine, he disappeared, along with the small lizard he had been stalking. It’s not surprising that no Greek home is happy without a few cats.

It was a few years ago, on holiday on the island of Tilos, that our tour guide told us a pair of vipers were nesting just outside our small villa window. No problem, she said, just keep the windows shut and ignore them, for a deterrent was on its way. The next morning we woke to find a very large black and white tomcat licking its paws, and the tell tale hiss of the vipers gone.

Back in Athens, I try and identify the snake in our garden. It’s almost impossible. The excellent, Armed Forces Pest Management Board website, which lists all dangerous creatures found country by country, reassuringly tells me there are six venomous snakes in Greece and only a few deaths a year. All the pictures and descriptions look the same, the best way to identify them they advise, is to catch them.

But, at least, I can reassure myself that these snakes won’t fly. For half an hour after Ping, the Thai gardener, had flicked his daily load into the neighbour’s garden they would fly back over the fence, in a never-ending game We used to like to fantasise that the gardener next door was called Pong but that, of course, was just plain silly…

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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