Life In Cyprus – David’s Tenth Letter

I was pleased to receive my tenth email from my friend David who lives in Cyprus

Hi Sara and and all at Farming Friends

At  last the weather is improving but with the wind coming from the south and Egypt we now have rather high dust and sand in the atmosphere and the other day I saw the first locust of the year no doubt blown here on the wind. Today the sun is out and I have opened up my cold frame and put out my seed pots to help things along. The broad beans are coming up but as yet no courgettes, squash, tomatoes or herbs. I am really experimenting with the rather clayey soil of my area of the Troodos to see what will thrive best. In Kedares I will have quite a good portion of land to utilise for vegetables so I hope to get at least two bites at the cherry! Of course I need to cultivate the ground and prepare it as I believe it has lain fallow for a number of years so I am still after goat manure. My own compost heap is doing quite well in Lemithou and I will be filling up another raised bed next week ready for some seedlings.

This is a beautiful time of year in Cyprus. Much of the land is still green from the rains and many flowers are now coming into bloom.My lemon tree here in Tsada is flowering and the scent is very exotic. The mandarin tree is also flowering and in the citrus orchards the scent will be wonderful. If you go north from Tsada towards Polis there are acres of orange trees alongside the road and at this time of year the blossom is very picturesque.The first mimosa trees will be in bloom soon as well. Sorry if I am waxing lyrical but now is the time to visit Cyprus if you do not wish to lie on the beach all day. Of course that supposes you can get a flight at a reasonable price which sadly is not easy just now. The tourism is well down but just recently there have been many visitors in Kato Pafos by the harbour.I suspect many have come to escape the cold weather further north. It is still unsettled in Greece and Turkey so I do not think we are right out of the worst yet. Although the temperature is about 21 degrees today I still wear jeans and a pullover.This causes some looks from the visitors who go around in shorts and t shirts.Good luck to them but I still think the temperature needs to rise a bit before I put away the long trousers.
I ordered another book from Low Impact Living Initative on dry stone walling which has arrived very quickly. Maybe the post office is improving here. I intend to build some walls in the Troodos but I think I will need to source rock from other areas as most of the rock is igneous in Lemithou and although abundant I suspect it is difficult to work. If I am wrong I do hope that someone will give advice.
The article in “Grapevine” one of the english free papers here on buying in North Cyprus is most interesting but does not really help anyone thinking of purchasing there other than to say be very careful.Although the thought is that North Cyprus will not pay any attention to the European Court ruling at some stage the matter will raise its head if the two sides are ever reconciled. If you have found a property in the North it may be an idea to put an advert in one of the South Cyprus newspapers asking if anyone has a claim on the land. Not ideal but it may make everyone more aware of the problem and may encourage others to demand better advice from both sides.
I am off to Kedares again this afternoon with Kleanthis to take up some clothes and books ready for my move at the end of the month.
I went up with Kleanthis last tuesday 16th and I now have the keys to the house but of course I will not move in until the end of March.It does mean however that I can move bits and pieces now which is a great help. Kleanthis is keen on hunting and as we had his grandson Andreas with us he took us off road and we saw our first snake of the year. It was a black whip snake quite long about a metre and did it move fast. Then we followed the Diarizos river with Kleanthis pointing out wild garlic wild asparagus and various other greens kown here as “Xorta” (pronounced horta) and ended up in the back end of Kedares. I have noted the route down as a good walk but I fear my car will not cope with the really rough areas.
We stopped for coffee in Kedares and I met several of the villagers who all speak good english and are a wild bunch of retired gents like myself. Several are retired police officers but they have a great sense of humour and I look forward to sitting there in the summer evenings with a glass of beer and hearing their tales. I thought my greek would improve in the village but maybe not although one has promised not to talk to me in english.
On the way back down to Pafos Kleanthis again went off road in Mamonia and we ended up in an orange orchard where he procceded to pick two large bags of oranges giving one to me and saying that the best oranges in Cyprus come from Mamonia. I asked if the owner of the land minded him picking the oranges and he laughed and said the land belonged to his brother in law Bambos who is my new landlord. I think I will be ok for oranges and other fruits in the future.
I am pleased to say that most of my seeds are coming up and on the site the raised beds are now full of seedlings so I hope this year will produce some veg. Kleanthis says he will bring his JCB up to the Troodos so I may be able to repair some of the slippage and at last find the water sump.
I have a good friend here called Mary who is an established mosaic artist and also paints wonderful icons. I believe even the Bishop of Pafos has expressed interest in her work. Anyway she is kindly going to paint an icon of St George for me as he is the patron saint of the valley where the land is situated it being called Mouttis tis Drakonta or Dragon Mountain. There is a little shrine just down the road dedicated to St George so I think it is all rather fitting. I will send you a photo once it is done.
Mary is one of those people that you meet and like immediately. She is doing battle with a whip snake at the moment to see who is entitled to the sunny spot by the pool in her garden and also has a black chicken that has decided to take up residence in her studio which makes working there a battle of wits. I am currently looking at building a chicken coop to give the chicken an alternative living space. Are we all mad!!
Well once again I have rattled on about living here and the general pace of life but I really believe it is the people and friends that you make in living in a community who make a difference to  your life and I will keep trying to speak greek and learn more of their lifestyles here.
Best wishes to you all and wish me luck with the move (although most is now done).

I enjoyed reading about the places and people David knows and look forward to hearing about whether the veg grows in the Cyprus heat and am intrigued to see the photo of the wonderful mosaic picture that Mary is creating.

If you would like to read David’s other letters then click on the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9