Olive Picking Time

In the Mediterranean, late Fall/early Winter is olive picking time. Truthfully, it’s not met with much enthusiasm. It’s one of the many chores, the labors of love, of living in God’s country. All summer long, knotted olive tree branches weigh heavy with green olives slowly ripening in the relentless summer.


Did you know that black olives were nothing more than ripened green olives? That was a total news flash for me. 

Most families in Cyprus have their own olive trees. And with these olive trees, they provide their own families’ supply of organic olive oil for the year. If you come from a particularly wealthy family, you own an orchard. The olives are collected by teams of seasonal workers; but even then – the entire family still pitches in and helps pick olives on Saturdays and Sundays.  Olive picking is a family affair.


As an American, all I knew about olive oil was that it tasted good (especially when I dipped fresh bread into it with salt, pepper and oregano). I could find rows of bottled virgin, extra virgin, cold pressed, and regular olive oil lining my grocer’s shelves.  But I had no idea what all these really meant.

After living in the Mediterranean for 8 years, and going through 7 harvests, below are some of interesting facts about olives that I thought I’d share.

Lessons Learned from Olive Picking over the Years

  1. Wear long sleeves, gloves and boots! Olive branches are super scrappy and they tear through skin like a sharp razor. Okay – that’s an exaggeration. But they really do hurt! I’ve got one scar on my hands from years ago that still hasn’t healed from an olive brush. As for the boots – olive trees do not need much (if any) watering, so the ground below is quite dry, and often brush-like. They are also a breeding ground for rodents, which totally gross me out. Where boots to protect your pedicure.
  2. Process of picking olives hasn’t really evolved much over the years. Spread a big blanket on the ground and then begin to gently hit shake the tree branches. For high up branches, you will need a ladder, a broom stick or both. Be careful when standing below! Dropping olives are like big pebbles landing on your head!
  3. Olives are really bitter off the tree! They are pretty much inedible. Trust me, I’ve tried. To get them to table-serving worthy, you need to ferment and cure the olives. The process of curing/fermenting involves adding it to salt-water brine and changing out this brine for about a week. Then letting the salted olives soak for another few weeks, until they get soft, salty, squishy and yummy.
  4. BUT to get high quality OLIVE OIL, you should press the olives within 24 – 36 hours of picking. Once pressed, keep the olive oil in dark barrels, hidden from direct sunlight for a month to allow the debris to settle. Then the oil is spectacular.
  5. You need about 3 kilos (10 pounds) of olives to yield a liter of olive oil. The skin and pits are the heaviest part of the fruit, and therefore there is a significant amount of waste when pressing. Interestingly, in recent years that debris has been used for all sorts of commercial use: crushed pits are baked into bricks, which are used to build houses. Broken skin is soaked and used into making soaps and cosmetics.

Like anything, when you work for your food, it tastes all the sweeter. But I got to admit: I’m glad it’s only once a year.


About Claudia, Blog, In The News

Mediterranean Cooking Class @ Friendly City Food Coop

Hey all – just a reminder that the Harrisonburg Friendly City Food Coop is getting Mediterranean-Friendly tonight! I’m teaching a class open to the public from 6 PM – 7:30 PM  about the goodness of eating fresh, local and light. Learn how to make hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh, and fennel. For more information and to book your tickets, check out their site:

Mediterranean Diet

Grab a friend and a cutting board! See you there!

Live like a goddess. . .

Blog, Cooking, Lifestyle

La Vie en Rosewater

La Vie en Rosewater


Rosewater is made from steeping fresh petals and distilling. Photo from

In the Mediterranean we try to use all natural products with a deep history of its beneficial uses, instead of relying on man or factory-made ones. This was, of course, primarily dictated initially due to the region’s lack of buying power and remoteness. But, as the people of these regions slowly gained in wealth and imported products began permeating the local markets, some traditions stay true. Rosewater is one of them.

Rosewater is one of those truly multifaceted products which are used in the kitchen to sweeten foods, as well as in the bathroom and bedroom as a beauty and healing product. Best of all, the luxurious scent of this marvelous little water adds a bit of zest to your cooking without breaking the bank. The cost is under $5.00 for a 12 ounce bottle.

The homeopathic roots of rosewater date as far back as the ancient Egyptians. According to legend, Cleopatra would take milk baths with rose petals floating to keep her skin soft, smooth and gloriously scented. Even in recent times, it is said the streets of Beirut are filled with the scent of rosewater in the late Spring and early Summer, as the rose petals are pressed, steamed and distilled to make this many faceted beauty and food product.

Rosewater for skin

Rosewater is typically spritzed on the faces of women with sensitive skin or rosacea, due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. For those with acne, applying rosewater as a tonic reduces the amount of bacteria on the skin. So it makes an excellent, all natural toner for skin that has broken out due to excess oils. Even for those of us who don’t necessarily have problematic skin, rosewater is a gentle, fabulous pick-me-up. The scent awakens your senses better than coffee (well, that may be a stretch, but it does work). Rosewater enjoys a natural aromatherapy healing to elevate your senses.  Rosewater is refreshing, inexpensive and luxuriously scented; keeping skin soft and hydrated – which is important for all skin types at any age.

Rosewater for Men

While some men may scoff at smelling like roses, let me point out that rosewater is an excellent aftershave. It stems from the very same reason that rosewater is good on sensitive skin: it helps to calm irritated skin. And don’t worry about smelling like a girl: the rose scent is light and generally dissipates off skin within the first 30 minutes.

Rosewater in the Bath

The calming, luxurious effect that rosewater has on your skin can have the same effect on your other senses. After a long, busy day, a deep bath in hot water with a few drops of rosewater and any essential oil (my personal favorite is Jasmine) relaxes even the most stressed out Type A out there. Best of all, you go to bed smelling like a bed of roses – with the added bonus of softer, brighter skin.

Rosewater in the Bedroom

Try spritzing your sheets with a bit of rosewater to release the Aphrodite within.

Rosewater in the Kitchen

In addition to using rosewater for beauty purposes, try adding a splash of rosewater in the kitchen for a refreshing twist on simple salads.

Rosewater in the Laundry

Give your freshly laundered clothes a little goddess love. Spritz folded clothes with a few sprays of rosewater. Your family (and you!) will love it. It makes your entire wardrobe, closet, drawers smell heavenly. Simple pleasures like this go a long way in making one feel luxurious and pampered, without spending a fortune.


Moroccan Cucumber Rosewater salad is light, refreshing and perfect for cleansing the palate. It is served in most evening meals.


Moroccan Shredded Cucumber Salad

Used as both an aperitif and as a digestive, this cucumber dish helps to cleanse the palate in between meals and bites.

  • 1 English or American Cucumber, peeled (if desired) and shredded
  • ½ teaspoon of Sugar or Stevia to taste
  • Dried Mint
  • 1 tablespoon rosewater

In a large bowl, shred cucumbers, sprinkle in sugar and stir until fully dissolved. Add mint and rosewater. Place in fridge and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving.


Watermelon, Basil & Feta Salad

In Greece, with the extreme heat and no one with a ravenous appetite, watermelon and feta is a simple summertime dinner. Add some fresh bread and a dash of rosewater for an island-flair.

  • Ripe watermelon, cubed
  • Chunk of Feta
  • Fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons rosewater

In a large bowl, combine the above. Enjoy the compliments you will receive on this simple, yet exotic salad.


Have I convinced you to give Rosewater a whirl? Do you know of any other fantastic recipes that uses this elixir of the goddesses? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Drop me a comment.


Blog, In The News, Lifestyle

Islanders Have Nothing to Do, so they Do One Another

Originally published on 8/25/16 on Women Who Live on Rocks A little more tongue and cheek than the usual drink Hibiscus tea ( or how to make a rocking Spanokopita ( I hope you all enjoy it!


Why Islanders Have More Sex



This may be one of the best well-kept secrets of island living: we are *horny* here. Not like a little bit horny, but straight out, teenage-frenzy-horny. Have you ever noticed that you feel a bit more,ahem, amorous while on a beach vacation? Maybe it’s the sun, sand, and alcohol (a less-than-holy trinity), but the killer combo makes most people impossible to resist a flirty glance, a stolen kiss, or, if you’re lucky, a bit more.

*click for image credit

Now take those stolen, sweaty moments and expand it into days, nights, weeks, months, and possibly years. There are plenty of times for the unholy of sanctions to strike. And that is exactly what is happening on my rock. All. The. Time.

I’ve got a few possible explanations as to why we islanders get in-between the sheets more than the average colder climate dwellers…

The Weather

Yes, this one is really quite obvious. As mercury rises, pheromones release, sending us all into the friskiest of moods. There’s something about ladies in short dresses, bare skin, and sweat beading (because it’s so stinking hot) that has men slinking through the streets like alley cats looking for food.

We Come Alive at Night

To deal with the relentless sun, we sleep by day and play by night. With the nighttime comes locally-produced (read: cheap) beer, wine, and liquor. While northern friends may flock to the rock to escape cold, blistery days, we island-dwellers shrink from the relentless sun and then come alive by night. The nighttime living turns into nighttime loving, once alcohol is introduced into the mix, especially if we have all this excess energy to be consumed due to our lethargic, sunny daylight hours.

*click for image credit

Vacation Brain

It’s the vacation state of mind. The perma-vaca mood that permeates the islanders has many locals and expats alike howling at the full moon. We can’t help it. There’s a relaxed vibe that does not translate in higher latitudes. With both brains and bodies in chill-mode, we return to our natural animal-mode. We are blessedly stripped from typical Western cultural norms, business attire, and polite banter/behavior.

But while I can go on and on about the weather, the nightlife, and the holiday-mindset, do you want to know the real reason why islanders get it on so much?

There’s nothing else to do.

Really. It’s that simple. In America, where I’m from, we were constantly climbing the corporate ladder, or training for a marathon, or helping in a charity, or starting a business, or taking a child to tennis/track/violin/you-name-it. On our rock, we have no large corporations. Non-profits are feeding a stray dog or cat. And absolutely no one would be stupid enough to train for a triathlonhalf of the year (it’s simply too hot). So a better form of exercise is… you get the picture.

And there you have it: plenty of time on your hands, no high pressure aspirations for a killer career or a multi-million dollar venture, scant clothing or modesty, plenty of alcohol-imbibing, and nocturnal living. This is why islanders – at least on my rock – are having more sex.

How about on your rock? Have you noticed an exorbitant amount of busy-ness between the sheets in the absence of business on the streets?

*click for image credit

Blog, In The News, Lifestyle

The “F” Word That Rules Our Life

Originally published on Sivana Spirit on July 25, 2016

A year ago today, my father-in-law succumbed to prostate cancer.

It was a grueling 4-year battle that saw him deteriorate until all that was left of him was skin and bones. I still have no idea why his body began to mutate against himself.

Before the cancer, he was the epitome of health. At age 70 he worked vigorously and daily in his large garden. He ate (mostly) locally and organically, and in moderation.

He exercised his mind by hand-drawing architectural plans.

He was surrounded by beauty and love from his adoring wife, children and grandchildren.

But yet, cancer still seized him. I don’t know why.

Perhaps it was genetics; perhaps it was bad luck. But cancer came, and it didn’t let go.

Being at the center of a family going through an emotionally and physically exhausting experience such as cancer, I watched and wondered what would happen if we were in the States.

The process is similar: countless doctor’s appointments, MRIs, bone scans, chemotherapy, radiation, sweat, tears, meals being delivered by nearby family or neighbors, silent prayers for full recovery.

But yet the process felt different.


It is Written. “Maktoob.”

Behind every uttered prayer was a slight resignation in a higher being. Let this be Your way.

It wasn’t the TV commercials dotting the airwaves today: a series of faces saying “No” to cancer, demanding it to be obliterated from our vocabulary. This fighting spirit we have in the West, while intoxicating, can be famously distorted.

One of my favorite movies of all times is Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. Now.

The last words in the movie were “It is written.” Of course, the movie ends on a happy note.

The boy gets the girl and a million rupees. And we viewers think Maktoob is Arabic for “it is written.”

It also means “fate,” which we are trained to believe means happy endings in the West.

It was fate that the young lovers met! It was serendipitous that we found one another after all these years! Yes, fate can be beautiful.

But in the Old World, fate also means reality.

It means you take the good with the bad and that God Almighty (or any form of a Higher Being you believe in) wills it to be for you, in that particular instance.

You can fight, as my father-in-law did with rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, but in the end, cancer won. And it was fate.

Where’s my Hollywood Ending?

I write this entry with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I find the lack of fighting spirit in the Mediterranean to be disheartening and weak.

On the other hand, there is a sense of peace in not struggling to be in control at all times.

If something is not in your hands, then why fight futilely? Why pretend we have a choice, when sometimes the road is already written?

This is what Fate means. It’s a quiet resignation that sometimes shit happens.

And as much as we all want a happy ending, sometimes it’s not in the cards.

Not at that moment or for that circumstance.

But there will be other happy endings if you choose to move where the story ends.

Life is the Gift

It has been a year since my father-in-law’s passing.

We share his words, his vivaciousness, and zest for clean living.

We do not cower in the shadows of his memory.

His toothy grin and wrinkled face in pictures are front and center in our living rooms.

We visit his graveyard all the time. His grandchildren have planted evergreen trees and Bougainvillea at the cemetery where he has been put to rest.

The trees grow, yet his memory will surely fade over time.

But we still do our best to remember his smile, his kindness, and his love for his family.

Life is a cycle that is all-too-well-understood in the Mediterranean.

There is no squeamishness about death.

There’s no way around it.

With every first breath, there is a last. Every beginning must find its end; life is to be celebrated.

Whether the life was cut short due to an accident or illness, it is irrelevant.

Because life itself is the gift. Not the end of the story.

In The News

TV Interview with Vox Pop on BRT

Hey guys – sorry it’s been ages since I last wrote. I’m back on the island and have done some relaxing (a little too much), catching up with old friends, and learning new recipes. I got a chance to speak with my friends at BRT, the national TV station on the island about the work we are doing with Live Like a Goddess. Below is an excerpt of the TV program. I’ll be certain to send out the full interview here as it airs. . .


Woo hoo! Spreading some Mediterranean love. . .…/vox-pop-on-brt-television-2407201…/


Get your natural electrolytes fix with Ayran

It’s getting hot in here. . .  so drop the Gatorade!

Please excuse the Nelly reference. I’m basking in my own sweat in the Mediterranean as I write. My brain and skin are fried.

We’ve all heard it before. Mercury’s rising. Kids are playing outside. We need to replace all those lost electrolytes with. . . a sugar-infused “sports” drink (whatever that means)? I’m here to tell you guys about a healthier alternative to that sugar-laden drink we in the West consider critical in replacing all those lost electrolytes.

Before we begin, though, let’s breakdown the story of electrolytes. According to WebMD, electrolytes are minerals in your body that regulate blood pressure, body’s water content, and our nerve and muscle function. We lose electrolytes through normal, daily activities. However, when we perspire, we lose electrolytes at a faster speed. Now, here’s the fun part: which minerals in our blood system naturally comprise of these oh-so-important electrolytes? Answer: sodium, potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate.  (

Not sugar. So, can someone please explain to me why we give our kids a whopping 56 grams (or 20% of our RDA) in a 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade? (Sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup are two of the three first ingredients). May I suggest an alternative thirst-quencher, with organic, healthy roots that is easy to make involves only a handful of ingredients?

For my family, summertime in the Mediterranean means long, hot summer days at the beach or pool, cooling off with a tall glass of homemade ariani (Greek) or ayran (Turkish). All this punctuated with watermelon and feta cheese for dinner. (As a side bar: give watermelon/feta a try! The salty/sweet combo is addictive).

What is Ariani/Ayran? 

I learned about ariani while living in Cyprus. When the heat soars, the younger generation of moms reach for juice boxes and ice cream to hand to their kids. However, the older generation pull out the yogurt and the blender. They know how to quench their thirst naturally, organically using an age-oold method.

Ariani is a refreshing summer drink made from diluted Greek yogurt, salt and dried (or fresh) mint. It originated in Turkey and is served all over the country. From 5-star hotels to fast food restaurants and everything in between, ayran is by all means a national drink in Turkey. During the Ottoman Empire, the drink was introduced to other lands, and is now widely consumed in Greece, Lebanon, Iran and beyond.

Slightly salty, rather than sweet, it may take some getting used to. But it’s worth it. A comparison of those above-mentioned electrolytes of Gatorade (the de facto electrolyte drink of the West) versus Ayran is below. I even throw in sugar gram content and overall calories to give a better health picture.

Nutritional/Mineral content Gatorade (8 ounce) Ariani/Ayran (8 ounce)
Calories 50 42
Sugar 14 grams 3.2 grams
Sodium 110 mg 191 mg
Potassium 30 mg 141 mg
Calcium 106 mg
Protein 10 grams


Notice any differences? Aside from calories and sugar content, Gatorade grades far below Ayran’s nutritional/mineral content. Please note: this is only for an 8-ounce bottle/glass of both Gatorade and Ayran. Most Gatorade bottles come in 20+ ounce bottles, so please do the math.

It’s no comparison. Ayran is a natural, healthier alternative to Gatorade. It’s also super-simple to make.


Refreshing ayran – natural, organic and thirst-quenching


  • ½ cup your favorite brand of Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Dried mint, if desired

Add all of the above in a blender and whirl to oblivion a couple of seconds. Serve over ice.

Kefir versus Ayran/Ariani

Some often confuse the recently “discovered” super-drink Kefir with Ayran. However, they are not the same. Ayran is made from Greek yogurt that has been diluted with water, add a touch of salt (to taste) and blend. It is generally served chilled or over ice. Kefir, on the other hand, is made from kefir “grains” (a yeast/bacteria starter) which resemble tiny cauliflower. Kefir is made from milk rather than yogurt. Personally, I find ariani easier to drink than kefir. In the West, many people add sugar or fruit syrups to the kefir. Otherwise, kefir may be considered a bit too sour, bitter and strong. Ayran, alternatively, has a diluted yogurt taste. If you like yogurt, you will probably likely like the taste of ayran.

Have I convinced you yet? Make ariani/ayran a part of your homemade traditions to live like a Mediterranean god/goddess. Enjoy your summer and stay cool, refreshed and hydrated.

Blog, In The News, Lifestyle

7 Things I Learned Living in the Mediterranean

Originally posted on Mind Body Green on 5-27-16.

7 Health & Life Lessons I Learned From Living In The Mediterranean Hero Image

Photo: Stocksy

I was one of those people who did everything right growing up. I studied, got good grades, got better jobs, and kept out of trouble. I never wanted to disappoint my immigrant parents, who had sacrificed and scrimped so that my siblings and I could graduate from college debt-free.

When friends and roommates were gallivanting across Europe, running with the bulls in Pamplona, hooking up with Greek gods at outdoor discos, or trekking the Great Wall, I worked and studied. I spent college summers working in a grassroots organization, a political lobbying group, or as an intern at the Virginia General Assembly.

One summer in college, I secured an internship on a remote island in the Mediterranean. That summer in Cyprus changed my life. I returned to the University of Virginia smitten with this ancient island, the gorgeous natives, and their relaxed, healthy lifestyle. It didn’t hurt that I was also smitten with a guy. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had met my future husband.

Years later, this dashing young Cypriot and I married. We lived in Atlanta, where I had earned a respectable MBA in finance and a high-paying but (for me) unsatisfying corporate existence.

I spent hours on the road or chained to my cubicle. Although our bankroll grew and we had two beautiful children, I felt there was something missing. That distant summer in Cyprus was an ever-present reminder of how life should be: healthier, more relaxed, and more balanced between work and play.

With two babies in tow, my husband and I decided to pack up our Atlanta home and move east . . . to Cyprus for what was originally planned to be only for a couple of years (“until Ella goes to school” was our mantra). However, life took over; we got addicted to the Mediterranean sun and remained on the Island of Aphrodite.

Over the years, I learned a thing or two about how to relax, relish life, and live like a Mediterranean goddess.

Photo Credit: Claudia Hanna


1. My cupboards are bare but my fridge is full.

In my corporate days, locked 10-plus hours in a cubicle or traveling to multiple cities weekly, I munched on granola bars, sipped on Diet Coke, and snacked on dry Fruity Pebbles late at night.

Processed foods usurp our American grocery aisles. On the island, we eat three proper meals. Snacks are whole fruit or nuts.

Today my meals are centered round seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Condiments, cookies, and crackers (if they exist in my kitchen) are small boxes and enjoyed sparingly (bye, bye Costco-size!).

2. Everyone eats fat, but no one gets fat.

I used to obsess over eating low-fat pretzels, low-fat muffins, low-fat yogurt, and the like. In the Mediterranean, full-fat yogurt and milk, lamb, fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, and whole grains comprise our diets.

It’s considered far better (and more tasty) to savor a half-cup of full-fat yogurt than to eat a container of flavorless nonfat yogurt, sweetened with syrup and fake fruit.

3. I skipped the gym and started a garden.

I loved my old boot camp classes, but in the absence of an ex-Marine screaming his head off at overweight, overprivileged office workers, I learned to take long walks through the hills or down by the seashore with my family and dog.

Tilling my own land; planting cilantro, cucumbers, and tomatoes, weeding, and watering until the fruit grew ripe: This is one of the simple ways in which Mediterranean people live healthfully. Less stress, more living outdoors.

4. Adopt a giving nature.

I grew up in Virginia, so I mean no disrespect to the notion of Southern hospitality, but there is no comparison to Mediterranean hospitality.

We all love getting stuff—free gifts, swag bags, birthday or Christmas presents. It is always fun to receive. In the Mediterranean, there is an expectation to always give. So if most people are giving, then most people are also receiving. It’s a giant circle of being nice.

We show up at someone’s home with a bottle of wine, some slices of homemade cake, or fruit from the garden. Whatever is on hand, a simple token of thanks goes a long way.

And if you have nothing to give, a smile and a compliment will brighten anyone’s day.

5. I stopped being a jack-of-all-trades and stuck with (and profited from) a single one.

I studied business. I should know my core strengths. Should. Through my 20s, I flitted from one job to another, with the excuse that I was making vertical jumps. In truth, I had a hard time settling down and developing core competencies.

Although I earned a finance degree, my natural inclination was in the arts. I studied drama, theater, and screenwriting. These technical skills were what allowed me to eventually take a chance and work for myself.

In Cyprus, my American accent was in demand. I had my own radio show and worked heavily in TV. Eventually, I launched a children’s theater school, teaching local and expat kids the love of drama.

Bottom line: Find out what makes you happy. Pick a trade and make money from it.

6. Learn the language—or at least some choice phrases.

Americans are really proud people. We believe we have the best nation in the world. But guess what? Many other people feel the same way about their country.

In under two years, I could speak the local language. Expats marveled at how I had picked up the language so quickly. (Turkish is not an intuitive language to learn as a native English speaker.)

But guess what? Locals loved it! Although English is widely spoken all over this fine planet, don’t be the rude traveler. Learn their language, their customs, and their culture. We are guests in their country.

7. The world is smaller than you think.

When we lived in Atlanta, my husband and I had exactly three visitors: an old friend from New York City who came down for a girls’ weekend and my parents the week after my daughter was born.

Strangely enough (note: This is sarcasm), living on a Mediterranean island elicited friends and family from far and wide to visit. They seemed in awe of our ability to pack up and move across the world.

High school, college, and grad school friends; distant cousins; siblings; and more all came in droves to visit. We even had a newlywed couple spend part of their honeymoon with us.

Communication and technology has been a lifeboat for me. Keep up with your old friends! You never know who may need a hand or a pillow to lay their head on for a few nights.



Why is Everyone Yelling?

Originally posted on Women Who Live on Rocks:


Moving to my rock was a family affair. I relocated with my husband, a local Cypriot, and my two young kids. We were warmly embraced by his family, who happily wrapped their arms around their long-lost son and his American bride. Then we sat down for a long, lengthy lunch and that’s when it happened:

The fighting.

*click for image credit

It started almost immediately. Somewhere between passing the souvlaki and the tzatziki, the voices went from happy banter playing with the new babies in the house to my husband and father-in-law having a “discussion”. I couldn’t understand what was being said since I hadn’t picked up Turkish yet at the time. It was just LOUD.

My eyes widened, my stomach twisting and knotting like it always does when I’m anxious. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to move to this island! Oh God, what did we do? Why did I quit my job? Why did we move out here to take over a family business?

After my husband and father-in-law’s apparent argument ended, my husband turned to me and smiled like nothing had happened. I eyed him quizzically. What’s wrong? I mouthed. He stared at me blankly, apparently having no idea what I was talking about.

And so was my first lesson in island living. People here are LOUD – plain and simple. That’s how they roll. I haven’t pinpointed the exact reason, but I have a few theories:

Why are islanders louder than Americans?

*click for image credit

Theory 1: It’s way hotter and everyone is annoyed.

Gone is the luxury of central air-conditioning. We sweat and glisten like all of Mother Nature’s other creatures – all while trying to accomplish the everyday business of living in the human world. And it gets freaking irritating. Take a moment and think of any dreaded chore – cleaning the house, cooking dinner, walking to work in a hurry – now add in extreme heat and the buckets of sweat that accompany it. Kind of makes you want to yell in frustration, doesn’t it?

Theory 2: There are fewer walls on the island to contain the volume.

Now hear me out. I think this theory actually makes sense. It’s somewhat scientific, considering how sound waves travel and bounce off of objects. The weather is more temperate here so people live and hang outside more. There are far fewer doors and walls surrounding us that trap noise. This means that people can shout, speak up, speak out, and it won’t bother the table beside them. Less walls = less bouncing of sound waves back to us = people yelling

Theory 3: Masculinity is tied to being the biggest – and most amplified.

Just like it is in the Animal Kingdom or your favorite Godfather movie, the patriarchal system on my rock is alive and well. Some men prove their masculinity by being the loudest and having the last word (we women ignore them). All that testosterone makes things noisy around these parts.

–   –   –

The loudness factor is definitely real here. My husband, for one, seems to be yelling constantly whenever he’s in the midst of happy banter with his buddies. But as soon as he switches to English, he’s the mild-mannered, chill guy I’m used to. This is across the board what I have witnessed all around my rock. Perhaps it’s the heat? The lack of walls? Excess testosterone? Who knows. But I have finally gotten used to it. My voice even elevates a couple of octaves now too when I break into my Turkish island-speak. And you know what? I kind of like it. It feels pretty good sometimes.

*click for image credit

Who said island life was supposed to be quiet anyway?

Discover your Inner Aphrodite. . .


Blog, Lifestyle

Get your DREAM job in your DREAM country

Originally published on @EasyExpat


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On my sunny rock in the Med, there’s a certain untz untz untz beat that travels most radio waves and plays loudly on cars racing down dusty roads. Young men sporting large diamond earrings drawing on cigarettes, nodding their heads in tune. Their hairy, brown arms sticking out of the car window, slicing the air, fists pumping to the beat. Islanders call it “Garage” or “Club” music. Americans unabashedly call it Eurotrash.

My car doesn’t have a CD or cassette player; and there still is no such thing as satellite radio. I’m stuck listening to the radio. After 4 years of trying to appreciate Club Music, I had nearly given up. Then one day by chance, I was driving home from work as a Senior Lecturer of Finance at the American University. I was on a familiar road when a new sign, one I hadn’t seen before, popped up in front of a newly-constructed apartment building: “101.8 Radio Fog.” Interested, I switched immediately to the station and nearly broke into tears of joy in my Fiat. There, playing softly on a static-y radio wave were sounds of home.

American Pop music, grunge music, and even (seriously – I can’t believe it – COUNTRY music) floated through my car. I was in such shock, I turned my car back towards the sign. I parked my car and bolted through the front door. Two young employees sat behind computers on unassuming desks. The eyed me as I sprang through the door, breathless.

– “Do you speak English?” (my first question nowadays).

– “Yes,” a chic, green-eyed guy in black-rimmed glasses responded.

“I just want you to know how thankful I am that your station has opened! I love it! I’m American and am so happy to have American music playing“, I gushed.

As it turned out, Mr. Green-Eyed Glasses agreed there were far too many Club stations on the air and he far preferred pop/rock/grunge/country – all of my faves. The station was his idea and he was the Manager of Radio Fog.

Despite having an MBA in Corporate Finance, I never enjoyed pouring over spreadsheets and coming up with company valuations using a discounted cash flows model. I far preferred acting and writing. Back home, I took oodles of acting classes, participated in stage plays, and landed a couple of gigs in my spare time, when I wasn’t strapped to a desk, eyes glazed over an MS Excel worksheet. But in my new home country, I could recreate myself. I could be the better version of Claudia I knew I was supposed to have been, had I had the guts to try in the first place.

I stared straight at Mr Green-Eyed Glasses manager and offered my services.

If you ever need a jingle or a voice over, using my American accent, please let me know

The manager didn’t respond. Instead, he stared me up and down, trying to assess this random American girl in his makeshift office/apartment. We exchanged numbers and said our goodbyes. As it turned out, he asked a few people about me. On the rock, everyone needs to be put in a certain “box” – people must be categorized, labeled and then put into a mental filing cabinet. Claudia is married to Tony, who’s the son of Tulin, who worked as a biochemist at the State hospital with Teresa, my cousin’s wife’s mother. Since my story worked out and Mr. Green-eyed Glasses could put me in his mental filing cabinet, I got a call the following day.


I offered to record a jingle for free. But as luck or fate would happen, the station had just let their Morning Radio Host go, and they were looking to replace him. I could have free reign over content. And so began my 4-year role as the Radio Show Host on “The Morning Show with Claudia,” on the coveted time slot of 8 AM – 10 AM Mondays through Fridays.

What I discovered: being a trained American actress on the island is what made me unique. In the U.S., I would be a dime a dozen. My show highlighted secrets and smut of the Hollywood entertainment industry. Listeners all over the island thought it was broadcast in Los Angeles. They had no idea it was from a tiny, sound proof apartment in Nicosia.

Do you have a story of you landed your Dream Job? Please share! 

Discover your inner Aphrodite. . .