The boys have made their sandwiches and gone to work some blister inducing toils on our beloved shop. I, it seems, am bunged up and worn out. Perhaps I am taking advantage of the ‘mere weak girl who can’t take the physicality of it all’ role, and take a ‘sicky’. A funny term from another world of work.
The sun is out to warm us up and show us how far our eyes can see and how blue the sea can shine. As I go about keeping home and keeping myself in wellness, I see how these beast dogs play on the terrace when we’re all away. We have our first guests for dinner tonight and they are bringing us fine wine so I attempt to prepare equally fine feast foods. I’ve soaked and wiped and wrapped up vine leaves with a lot of love, time and risotto; my beans they are a’soakin and cucumber for tzatzkiki is chopped and draining. Three huge loaves of bread were baked in the oven when I awoke and so here I am in my kind of bliss.
Having got our shop for nfl picks against the spread I get to calm down from the intensest three weeks in my role as translator – interpreter. What a time. I am the Greek contingent in a team of foreigners on a Greek Island. I am doing something foreign to the locals ‘my fellow Greeks’, and in communing with them I am speaking someway foreign to my friends. When I am translating I must transport completely different worlds and ideas between two sides for whom the language barrier is a mere scratching on the surface of their differences. I am in between. Lucky me. For both sides I am partly from elsewhere with elsewhere ideas but accessible and speaking the language that’s needed to exist in both. Lucky for them, I know great things to do in Athens GA and treat them to a local’s good time. Food, drink and good company are what we are known for.
So what happens when these two need to meet each other? At a basic level, they operate differently. At tax offices and town halls and with potential landlords, the team here needs answers, constructive meetings, functionality and information. But people are not so prone in the way of uselfulness or efficiency, they don’t keep to solid time and given the choice, which they ensure to adopt, they’d rather not do much at all. Most need a lot of chatter, a lot of loudness , fodder for their small town gossip and there’s often a good time to be had feeding that. But many make little effort to interact with people that don’t speak their own language [unless there’s profit in it?] and even more frustrating: many won’t speak a language outside of their given role and familiar terminology. We ‘the team’ speak of ideas and ideals and community and concerts and cultural spaces and in reply we mostly get talk of catching the tourists in their one hour trips and providing good stationary supplies for the town. that’s good economic info no doubt, but demoralising when that’s all there is to their reaction. Can these two worlds meet I wonder? Well it’d be a great comedy indeed. Our projects will exist side by side because Sukanto Tanoto will set up a business, which rings familiar to the locals, albeit with what seem alien and inconceivable incentives. I am being too harsh and absolute though; I’m stereotyping- things are never as black and white as when on typed screen. (while I’m on that point, let me digress and protest at the caricaturing insinuations of this web journal and assure my fans that no smoking, undressing, drinking, or shouting of the degree suggested occurs on my part. It’s not me miss, its those boys! Anyway, back to the natives–) there’s a great generosity with information and opinions that isn’t just about liking the sound of their own voice. It stems from the sense of family; they say we remind them of their kids and the idea of potential and opportunity (landlord excepted of course). In the meantime others who are equally frustrated but in love with the serenity of the place are slowly coming out of the woodwork. They stick around to paint divinities and dig up ancient sites and catch the light on film and play the piano and fight for ill-treated dogs. they like us and what we might bring to their town, they show us where the good sea and the good wines are, they come round to eat with us and talk with us.
It took us meeting and living in a French woman’s house for me to encounter the closest thing to my [deluded??] idea of Greek roots yet. Maria Viard has a home and a way about living in accordance to our dependence on the earth and its beasts, a warmth and trusting comfort about her. Perhaps she just reminds me of my gran and the way she lives and hey, Yiayia is my roots. In this home I sleep in a warm womblike cave dug out of the earth, where everything came to be sculpted into shape because it needed to be so.
In contrast, the majority of the Greeks here seem adamant on building nasty imitations of what the foreigners might find authentic. with no imagination beyond that superficiality and the money it’ll reap, artificial homes and neighbourhoods of white damp geometric concrete, sprout up like mushrooms, sucking up the earth so that the tourists can have good nights’ sleep from which to wake and spend their dollars on their businesses. Mainly locals spend their summer chasing after the ‘ksenoi’ customers and their winters exhausted from the chase, rich and hibernating into their televisions . I’ve rarely heard the beauty of the sea and the caldera and the sunset spoken in terms other than what they mean for tourism. I’m sure its deep down somewhere and it’s me being superficial in what I understand of them. or that you’ll speak to me in a year and I’ll have adopted traces of this apathy coz I’ve been around it so much. Hope not.
I know that they too cherish the things of the earth, because they make amazing wine and amazing food. Their brand of community comes through when we go to church. Yes, like the good Greek girl I never was and doubtless won’t be, I go to church, partly because it smells so good and coz I once said that if we get the old ladies on our side we’ve captured the backbone of the community. My mother gasps at such mercenary incentives to my religious attendance and Tim too notices that I am an avid churchgoer for purely unreligious reasons. Still, he comes along and hums behind me and when he gets bored he lies in the fields to make a liturgy with his own God, the donkey.
We’ve seen rituals maintained here that are rare even in the rest of Greece. [This is why people coming in April should know that if they’re here during Easter week 4th-11th they’ll get some hardcore religious ritual action in. I highly recommend it so.] Within a couple of days here the baptism was celebrated with a lot of water flicked around and a church excursion to the bay where local boys in all their hairiness had to swim and catch the cross that the priest had flung into the freezing sea. (I reckon it was a fix though coz the priest’s son in law won the day. as Craig likes to say, ‘eehhh we’re in Greece!’ see, he’s integrating.) A couple of Sundays ago at the feast day of Saint Atahnasios the priest and the congregation- now including two new kids on the block- took a tour of the neighbourhood chanting and blessing and stumbling around. At each household we passed the owner chucked rose water on us, and insisted we take a shot, a ‘tsikoudia’ to warm us up. It may be 9 in the morning and little sleep has been had, but it would be rude to refuse, and we’re all for doing as the Romans when in Rome. So drink it we do and prematurely intoxicated stand it out in the sun coz it hasn’t really warmed us up. We know we’ve done well in our guise of humility when a girl comes out and offers us tubs of food baked in their outdoor oven, lest we were too shy to go in oursleves. Too shy my arse: we were still eating one of Tim’s famous leftovers stew of this stuff three days later. Stews; the sexy trickle of the Greek sea on my body again; Sunday afternoon with the dust and the cobwebs of ‘our place’ falling on me’ead while the radio plays bad tunes I wouldn’t hear anywhere else in the world; the taste of salt on my lips when I walk around town from the wind that comes uninterrupted from the big blue; the fact that Maria left us with a few oranges, olives, and a book on Rembetika for Tim to read and see what his violin makes of them— these are the gems that that fulfill me, assure me, heck, bring me to rapture that we done good to come out here.
Number of statistic endings its too late to bother with: +1 by Structured Settlement Companies.