Life in Cyprus - June 2002

June 1st:

Today felt rather oppressive, and we all seemed lethargic. It was hard to be motivated to do anything, although I did manage to water both front and back gardens early in the morning. I expect to have to do this at least once a week now for the next three or four months.

To our surprise, by lunchtime the sky had clouded over, and there was a pleasant breeze. We started to hear thunder - presumably over the mountains. Then a few drops of rain! We didn't suppose it would last long, and indeed the first shower didn't. But then we had some serious rain - about half an hour of it, sufficient to leave large puddles in the street, and to wash all the dust off the plants and trees. This must be a 'first' for June. The sun came out afterwards, and the air felt clearer, although there was the first hint of the humidity that we'll soon expect every day, as the water started to evaporate.

In the evening we went to a goodbye party in Nicosia. People come and go here frequently, and it's hard to make long-term friends. This was a Finnish family we'd met through our home education gatherings; they are shortly returning to Finland.

June 8th: 

On Monday I debated whether to get out my shorts or stay yet another week in jeans. I decided to try the shorts - it's June, after all, and I've delayed them a month longer than usual. It was a good decision. Through the week the temperatures rose a degree or two each day, so that by today it's nearly 30C outside in the shade, and the house is feeling extremely warm. Again I watered the garden thoroughly, early in the morning, but we have no expectation of rain today.

I found the second cockroach of the year this morning; again it was dead, thankfully. I hope we're not going to have a major infestation this year: I can no longer find the shop that sells the poison we're supposed to pour down our drains, into the septic tanks, every three months to kill them. Our landlady told us that if we didn't use that, we would be overrun with them. I  hope she's wrong. I never much liked using this stuff which is covered with warnings of danger ('no antidote') but it certainly killed cockroaches, who would crawl out of the cracks in the concrete over the septic tank and then roll over on their backs.

As for home education, we're winding down for the Summer. The boys are still working on some of the NCSC coursework, but probably won't start any more new workbooks now before the Summer. The big advantage of this system over some of the other American curricula I've heard about is that there's no particular time limit, and no set requirements for each year. At one point we had thought Daniel might complete level 1 (equivalent to 5 GCSEs) by this Summer; now it seems more likely to be Christmas, and by then he will have made a good start on the level 2 work as well.

16th June: 

one of the tents in TroodosBack from the home educators' camp in Troodos. At one point it looked as though all seven of the tents would be occupied, but in the few days beforehand, three families had to cancel, for various reasons, then one more cancelled on the day, as a child had a high fever. 

So in the end there were only three families at the camp - however we had a good time, and enjoyed getting away from the towns for a couple of nights. Four of the very old and rather mildewy tents had been replaced this year by brand new ones, even including mosquito netting at the doors and windows. In fact mosquitoes are not too much of a problem at camp, as it tends to be cooler; instead we were somewhat plagued by tiny 'no-see-ums' (as they're colloquially known), tiny black insects that leave a very itchy bite.

nature walk on TroodosWhile the children were mostly happy to play on the swing, or in the sand, or go for walks, or simply relax with a book, we did have three organised activities: on Saturday afternoon we did some country dancing; on Saturday evening we had a camp-fire, with songs, Daniel's now famous 'Thethil was a caterpillar' adapted for Cyprus, and toasted marshmallows. On Sunday morning someone organised an excellent nature workshop.

25th June:

The weather seems to have settled to a steady 30-32 in the shade during the daytime, down to 20-22 overnight. Not too terrible, but we're using the a/c in the living room for a few hours eachday to cool us down and keep the computers working. It isn't yet too humid... apparently 74%, but it only feels slightly sticky. By the end of July it's usually nearer 94% and most unpleasant. 

The grass of course is now brown and withered, as it's not rained since June 1st, but the weeds keep growing, unfortunately, so Richard cut the back garden with the mower yesterday evening - it was too hot for me but he likes this weather. It made quite a difference - I hadn't cut it since the last week of May. I hope now it will stay reasonably neat for another month or so. I'm watering the fruit trees about once a week, but watering the rest of the garden would take hours and consume far more water than we're supposed to, even though there is now officially plenty of water for all, with reservoirs at 57% and the desalination plant working. But we're still encouraged to be reasonably careful.

Daniel has a lot of rehearsals for the play now: about three last week, then nearly every evening this week. He generally goes there on his roller blades, the fastest and simplest form of transport for him! Yesterday was the official public holiday for Kataklysmos - Greek Orthodox Pentecost - so Richard took a day off and there were no play rehearsals. At the weekend the boys were both away camping with the youth group and some American Bible college students who are here for a few weeks. 

So life is as busy as ever even though most activities have closed down for the Summer. It's only just over 10 days till we fly to the UK, although I've been spending a lot of time researching travel options around the UK. To our surprise, trains (on Virgin Lines) seem to be cheaper than coaches now. So as the drama group will be travelling into London from Heathrow, it may be best for Tim and me to do the same, then catch a train from Euston to Birmingham.

30th June:

At the end of each month I go out early to pay the various utility bills (phone monthly, electricity bi-monthly, water tri-monthly!) and post a cheque to our landlady. However this month when I got to the electricity authority building - less than five minutes' walk from our house - I saw to my amazement that it was shut. Not just closed, but empty - rubbish on the floor, and a notice outside saying that it had moved! 

I went to pay the phone bill, wondering if we'd missed an announcement in Greek - perhaps something that had arrived with the electricity bill, and I had assumed was junk mail? But no.. on my way back I saw quite a crowd of Cypriots gathered outside the electricity authority building, gesturing and talking loudly, obviously just as puzzled as I was. I went home, and phoned the number on the bill; several people tried to describe to me where the new building was, but it didn't sound like somewhere that I could walk, particularly in June. Eventually I was given a postal address where I could send a cheque, so I did that.

This past week the boys have finished the last few workbooks they were working on, and put them away thankfully for a couple of months. At the end of each one is a test, which I have to mark; once a year we send completed tests, with a list of results, to the NCSC board in the UK. So I've packed up all completed modules for this year, updated the record sheets, and got them ready to post when we're back. I've also sent a large order for most of the workbooks we'll need next year, to be delivered to my parents in the UK, since that will save considerable postage, taking advantage of their 10% off discount offer during June and July this year for large orders.

Last night there was an inter-church beach picnic at McKenzy beach, the beach next-door to the aiport. There was no drama rehearsal for Daniel, so we all went. This is an annual event which usually attracts a fair number of people from all the English-speaking churches of Larnaka. It was a pleasant evening - several people went swimming early in the evening, and the water was lovely and warm. Someone had brought several trestle tables, which were soon piled high with vast quantities of food, and we all enjoyed a protracted meal, chatting to various people from our own and other churches, finally leaving about 9pm when it was getting dark.

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