A sister, a woman for all seasons, the heartbeat of the earth; Nitsa has the unique ability to embrace and welcome everyone graciously.  Sitting in her kitchen, her generosity of spirit is evidenced by the fact that there is always food on offer. Sharing a meal with folks is her love language.  Kings, Presidents and a homeless person would be treated with equal dignity and respect.

I have an almost panoramic view of the garden. At first glance, the garden looks disheveled and disorganized, however, on closer inspection there is a certain kind of order that works, I guess you can say it flows with the seasons, of planting, harvesting and pruning.   Anything needed for a meal is right there, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, tomatoes, herbs of all description, and fruit trees – a few hens peck away and forage in between the plants for the odd titbit or two.

I am in awe of the fact that Nitsa and her husband, Thanasie, are so in touch with the earth, nothing is wasted, neither is there a display of grandness or wealth or stateliness, just humility and a deep sense of kindness.

They arranged for us to meet up with their children and grandchildren over a meal.  Sitting around their large kitchen table, laughing, chatting and excitedly catching up, we heard the neighbor’s little girl call out to Yiayia Nitsa (as she is only two years old) and her parents came running after her.

Almost as if she had been expecting them, Nitsa – lovely kind Nitsa, invited them to join us for lunch, we all moved up, making space, for everyone to enjoy a meal of stuffed vegetables, salad, souvla and potatoes accompanied by ice cold Keo Beer (a very light Cypriot Beer)

If you are intrigued by this meal and would like the recipe – feel free to contact me

Something about Nitsa’s generosity that day moved me so deeply, that simple act of making space at the table was, for me, such a spiritual experience. 

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”  *

There is a beautiful word “philoxenia“  meaning love of the stranger, the deeper meaning is ”love for everyone you meet.” Nitsa’s daily life is just that, a life of service to the Church, her family and the community at large.

Another thing I find so utterly charming about our friendship is that I can’t speak Greek and Nitsa can’t speak English, and yet our conversation flows effortlessly, peppered with loud guffaws of laughter. George, without complaint, spends most of his time translating, and I think I am going to take Nitsa up on her offer to spend a month with her, she reckons she will have me chatting away in Greek in no time.

Listen to George translate my VERY interesting conversation with Nitsa and Thanasie…

The whole of Cyprus is of utmost importance to Nitsa, her life and ethos embodies freedom, fairness and equity.  She is concerned that the advancement of technology and the like has created a hostile environment for young people, and her advice to her grandchildren and their peers is to choose their friends wisely, to stay safe and remain vigilant. Furthermore, we should accept and embrace our idiosyncrasies – be kind and love, just love, each other.

I guess Nitsa’s life and personal philosophy is a reminder that there is goodness in the world and that change happens when ”we move up and make space at the table”.

“And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. 

For in the dew of little things the heart finds itself and is refreshed”.**

The Republic of Cyprus is an Island country located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  It is located north of Egypt, east of Greece, south of Turkey and west of Lebanon and Syria.  It’s Capital and largest city is Nicosia (a divided city, the Northeast portion of the Island is de facto governed by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus).

 Nitsa is George’s first cousin and George’s late father was her Godfather.

*Matthew 25 35 – 36

**Kahlil Gibran – The Prophet

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  • Sanette Cavallari

    Oh how I chuckled out loud at the benediction of everyone by the priest…those who are unfamiliar with it and their unease of receiving the blessing.. its beautiful! the whole entire episode is just simply fabulous ! Every bit of it draws one into the kitchen where you are whether with Nitsa or Louise… it feels as if one is taking the journey with you!

    • Gail Charalambous

      Yes, we weren’t expecting that so for some it was a different experience.

  • Samantha Bowers

    Love this, I can just imagine this lovely lady.

  • Maria Bekker

    Lovely meeting and cooking with Nitsa, Gail!
    Hope to hear more of your Cypriot family!

    • Gail Charalambous

      Thank you Maria, I adore them. And, yes there will be more.

  • Love this…can just picture it 🙂

    • Gail Charalambous

      Thank you – spending time with Nitsa is always great fun.

  • Diane Connell

    Oh my word! can you imagine living in a day to day world like this. Can’t think of anything nicer than growing and finding your meals in your garden.

    • Gail Charalambous

      Oh Diane it is idyllic! I love spending time with Nitsa.

  • Patricia Maqina

    I enjoyed Nitsa’s story, keep them coming Gail and thank you.

  • Michelle

    What a lovely post Gail. It was very interesting and sounded like lots of fun.

  • Salvelio Meyer

    I loved Nitsa’s story…
    Interesting video and conversation too.