As with many European countries, just about everyone in Cyprus has a two-week break during August. Or so it seems. Hotels and restaurants keep going, of course, and tourist shops. But a lot of regular stores close down, and those that don't often shut for two or three hours over lunchtime.
Yesterday I wanted to buy some vitamins, and had to search awhile before I found a pharmacy that was open. I guess they stagger the actual dates of breaks; after all, it's important that some pharmacy is open all the time. There's a published rota in the papers for evenings and weekends, so perhaps there is for August too. This morning when I went to make an appointment for a haircut, the hairdresser was closed. The art shop where I regularly do my church photocopying will be closed from this Saturday for two weeks, so I have to make sure I get there on Friday for once, and then find somewhere else for the next fortnight.
I think it's a good principle to have an annual break, so families can get into the mountains to cool down and spend time together, or perhaps take holidays abroad. But equally it seems strange to do this at the season when there's likely to be the most tourists, in an island that relies heavily on tourism for its economy!
Still, visitors keep pouring in and the beaches seem full, even though we're told numbers are low. Probably because the Cyprus pound is such a strong currency at present. Nobody seems to know why, everyone we speak to says it's ridiculous, and very bad for the country since it puts tourists off. It's much less expensive to go to Greece, or one of the Greek islands where euros are used. Or somewhere like Turkey, or even North Cyprus.
Last night by contrast it wasn't peaceful at all. About 10pm we heard cars honking and vehicles driving around noisily. Possibly a wedding, although they're not usually that late or in the middle of the week. Usually the driving-around-Larnaka-honking happens mid-afternoon, after the service and before the reception.
This time it continued for about an hour - eventually I got to sleep, but we did start to wonder if Cyprus had won some great sporting achievement. Or perhaps Greece, since the two countries seem to support each other. Last year when Greece won some football cup (I think it was the European soccer championship) the Cypriots went wild. I don't know what it could be, though. None of us is interested in sport, so I had a quick look at the BBC news site sports section, and nothing leapt out at me.