With water reserves at their lowest levels in decades, people on this Mediterranean island have seen the most stringent water rationing in years.
Reservoirs are just 5.5 percent full, two desalination plants cannot cope with demand from 800,000 people and emergency water imports are coming from
Landscapes are growing more barren and are speckled with the crackled pits of empty dams. It's a stark reminder of the past: according to some historians,
"Whatever happens, we will make sure people get water," says a weary water department official who has the unenviable task of charting water levels falling by the hour and who also has to deal with angry complaints if the water is delayed.
Twice a week at , my neighbourhood on the fringes of the capital
Sometimes water comes on Saturday too, but it's normally late in the
The flow of water dictates our lives.
Showers have become 30-second affairs under a trickle with a sponge and a bucket. I recycle all the dishwater to water my plants. I mop the house with one bucket of water.
Tuesday is laundry night where I stuff a 7kg washing machine to bursting point on 30-minute cycles. I remember a shocking statistic I heard on the radio: 35 kg of water is needed to wash one kg of clothes. On that basis, I splurge 245 kg of water a throw.
When the rationing kicked in last April, friends went to each others' homes to shower.
Beyond the daily discomfort, there is a deep fear on this island, which is split along Greek and Turkish ethnic lines, that the water may dry up completely.
One of my earliest childhood memories is of having no water for days at a time during a particularly scorching summer in the 1980s when a lot of the neighbourhood cats died.
Through careful management this time, I have not run out of water once.
ADAPTING TO CHANGE
The shortages have forced the tourism industry to adapt.
When one of the country's two desalination plants went off-line for three days in June, hoteliers scrambled to bring in water in tankers, hoping the 2.5 million tourists who flock to
"Right now we are managing, but it is a very difficult situation," said Haris Loizides, head of the hoteliers' association.
Tourism represents about 13 percent of
"We have not received any complaints," Loizides said.
Authorities blame the severity of the drought on climate change which they say has cut rainfall by more than 10 percent over the past three decades. This has played havoc with the ecosystem.
As the soil becomes dryer and the seasons increasingly blurred, I find fewer wild mushrooms in the forests each winter. Warmer and drier winters means foragers also have to be on alert for snakes, which should be stuck in a hole hibernating.
Reservoirs where I once spent hours waiting for that one elusive trout to take the bait have now become muddy pools, and in some places the rotting carcasses of fish are glued to hard-baked mud.
"I've never experienced anything like this. We've drilled our mountains full of holes looking for water. This situation will have a long-term impact on our flora and fauna," said water department official Kyriakos Kyrrou.