Last Saturday, July 31st, I opened the french windows in my study at around 6.30am, as I usually do, and breathed deeply as I felt the gentle cooling of the morning breeze. It almost felt cold, for a few minutes. The end of July is something of a milestone for me each year; half way through the hot and humid summer months.
Having air conditioning available in each of our rooms does make life in Cyprus summers much more bearable than it was in our old house, but we try not to use it too much. We don't run the air conditioning at less than 28C, we don't use it much in June at all, and although we've been sleeping with it on all night, I looked forward to starting to use it only for an hour or two at bedtime. And to switching it on later in the day, rather than around 10am as I had been throughout most of July.
I should have enjoyed the moment more. The coolness of the early morning was a harbinger for a very hot day. Since I spent most of Saturday in my air conditioned study, I wasn't really aware of it until the evening, when I realised that the rest of the house was a great deal warmer than usual. I was glad I hadn't scheduled anything particularly energetic, but assumed it was a one-off. On Wednesday I had cleaned the house very thoroughly, and on Thursday I had washed all the curtains, dried them on the line - six loads of laundry in all! - and re-hung them. I could not have done either on Saturday.
On Sunday, in contrast to my quiet few days at home, with Richard away, I spent the day with our good friends who have six children. I decided to make some cookies for the shared lunch we were going to, and assumed that the kitchen would feel quite pleasant around 7am. I was surprised at how warm and muggy it was, particularly when the oven was on. It didn't even occur to me to switch air conditioning on in the kitchen that early, but perhaps it would have been a good idea.
I went to a church service with four of our friends in the morning (in an air conditioned building, even though not terribly effective), then we came back to our house and sat in the study, with the air conditioning on, for a couple of hours, chatting and playing with Lego. Er, that is, the children were playing with Lego. We just helped. Then we went to the house church for a late potluck lunch. In an air conditioned room. Then back to our friends' home, and sat in the air conditioned living room to play some games. We had a cold meal together in the evening - also in the living room since they said the kitchen was too hot. And an evening game too. By the time I walked home, about 10.15pm, it wasn't as hot as it had been earlier but was still surprisingly warm and sticky.
It was only on Monday that I learned that Sunday had been the hottest day ever recorded in Cyprus history. In Nicosia, according to that link, the thermometer hit 46C. That, apparently, is 113F. Hot, however it's counted. Nicosia isn't as humid as Larnaka, but it does tend to be a degree or two hotter. It probably didn't get to more than about 42 here... but with the extreme humidity, it may have felt as hot as 50C. I don't know quite how they count the 'feels like' temperature, but I do know that high humidity - and it's been very high at times - make it feel a great deal hotter than it is. And since the temperatures given are the 'shade' temperatures, it's even hotter still in the sun.
Monday was almost as hot again. When I opened the study door at 6.30am, it felt no cooler outside than inside - around 28C already. And muggy. I did do a bit of mopping, but was so hot and sticky I took my shower than spent the next twelve hours, basically, in the study in the air conditioning. I don't think I did anything constructive. The cats basically flopped on the bookcases or the floors. Sophia came in the study with me, but Cleo and Tessie seemed to prefer to be in the main part of the house despite the excessive eat.
Today, the same again. No rush of cooling air even at 6.30. By 8am, according to the UK weather site for Larnaka, it was 30C with 75% humidity, which made it 'feel like' 36C. Distinctly uncomfortable. The sky looks grey, too, but it's highly unlikely to rain in Cyprus at this time of year. I suppose I should switch on the air conditioning in here right now, since the computer is on, and computers do not like temperatures over 30C.
The weather site predicts a high of 34C (in the shade) every day this week. I hope it's correct. Sometimes they are still showing a high of 34 when the actual temperature is 37 or 38. A heatwave doesn't usually last for more than a few days... and while I do know that I have much to be thankful for (including the air conditioning!) I don't like it at all.