Charcoal of Cyprus
Black thick smoke from burning wood piles under soil are the welcome committee upon arrival at the pit.
The sun burned owner, covered in charcoal dust and with a distinctive v shape on his torso, weaves his head and lights a cigarette.
His handshake is a true strong statement.
The words are few with a sad spark in the eyes.
All feeling just tired, old, forgotten and neglected but keep on fighting tooth and nail for an uncertain future. What hurts more is that nobody cares about them.
For years at Kato Pyrgos Tillyria (Paphos district) in Cyprus, among other things, was also known for its charcoal production. Back in the days, dozens of families were in the business producing and even exporting charcoal.
Although the production is getting less and less every year, these people take pride of what they do. Most of them learned the job from their parents and grandparents.
Due to government limitations, mostly for environmental reasons, and at the same time of cheaper charcoal imports, the overall local production the last years is in constant decline.
Very few charcoal producers, men and women, are left and they really struggle to survive.
So far young people are not interested in carrying on the family owned businesses and a profession is barely kept alive.