When I wrote my update on the Cyprus power cuts nearly a week ago, I said that it would have been nice to know when to expect the cuts. It's possible to work around them - switching off computers, for instance, ensuring we've used an electrical gadgets we need in the kitchen in advance - if they're on some kind of schedule.
I continued to make notes, wondering if a pattern would emerge. We had no cut last Wednesday. Thursday was the earliest and longest to date: 1.00pm to 3.35pm. Then a second one from 6.00pm - we don't know for how long as we went out to eat, treated by a friend staying in the guest flat. We could not go to our first choice - the local meze taverna - since they too were having a power cut. So we went back to Alexander's on the sea-front. Tourist areas seem to be immune from power outages.
On Friday and Saturday we then had no cuts at all. I think perhaps there was one Sunday morning when Tim and I were out at a church service and Richard was at the boat, since the air conditioning units showed flashing lights when we returned, and other people reported having had some cuts. But that didn't affect us at all.
Yesterday afternoon (Monday) the power went off at 4.30pm. I had a stifado in the slow cooker which had been gently simmering since shortly after 6.00am. I knew it would keep its heat well so didn't worry about that. However I had been planning to do some roasted sweet potatoes and other veggies in the oven, which take about 40 minutes. We hoped the power might come back again before two hours had passed, but it didn't. I didn't want to open the fridge during the cut, but reckoned that I could prepare the veg pretty quickly, with Tim's help, if the power came back at 6.30. It would mean we wouldn't get to eat until almost 7.15 but we thought we could just about deal with that.
The power didn't come on at 6.30.
At 6.35, Tim and I were watching the clock and starting to feel decidedly hungry. Neither of us is very good with disruption of plans, and I didn't really have a plan B. Cuts can last up to two and a half hours, and the thought of not even starting to prepare veggies until 7.00 just didn't bear thinking about.
We had been talking about having Tim's favourite fast food 'Souvlaki Express' some evening while he's here. I realised that I could put the stifado in the fridge for eating the following day. I mentioned this idea to Tim, and he suggested waiting until 6.40.
So we did, and the power still didn't come on. So Tim used his mobile phone to call Richard and ask him to meet him at the Souvlaki Express shop, which is about five minutes' walk from our house.
At 6.45, the power came back on. But by then we'd arranged to buy souvlaki fast food, so I decanted the stifado, and laid the table... it was almost still 7.15 before we ate.
Today, the power went off at 4.30pm. I had NO idea what we would do if it didn't return until 7.00pm - perhaps reheat portions of stifado in a saucepan on the (gas) hob, and do some rice with it, and find other veg to do in a saucepan.
But thankfully, it came back at 5.45, which gave me plenty of time to use the oven as I had intended.
Then Richard told me that a friend had discovered that a schedule has been published. I hunted around on the Cyprus Electricity site, without much success, eventually finding the schedule in Greek only. Google translate came to my rescue again. Basically it says that each region will get one cut per day of up to two and a half hours, at the same time each day. There are links to each city, and as far as I can make out, we are region 20.
Which means that we are due to get a power cut EVERY week day, starting some time between 4.30 and 5.00, lasting up to 7.00 or even 7.30.
So cooking is going to be quite a challenge. If it were winter, we might consider cooking in the morning and eating our main meal at lunch-time, but I can't face that during summer. Not starting to cook until 7.00 simply isn't an option - I can't manage eating late. No doubt we will figure something out; today's cut wasn't too bad, and I can of course do most of my preparation in the morning. It IS useful to know when we're likely to lose power... but I had rather hoped that there would be a weekly schedule, with different times each day. Entertaining friends for an evening meal is going to be pretty much impossible.
This is Cyprus.