local-kiwi-alien

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

DRAMA THAT WAS


I should have trusted my instincts and known this was all just another greek drama.    This weekend traffic on the waterfront was in its usual chaotic summer mode, the supermarket was full of shoppers buying fresh fruit and vegetables, cafes were full and tavernas were setting up tables on the sidewalks,waiters buzzing  backwards and forwards with laden trays.  Greeks just cannot be kept down. 

The feeling now is 'enjoy life today for tomorrow we could still be bankrupt'. 

coffee at the orange chairs
No. 1 K-approved waterfront café
Nels, Elli and a young Natalia
 

I am sure all the unemployed sitting in cafeterias  sipping  one all-day coffee and arguing politics would prefer to be working 15 hours in the scorching sun and have money in their pockets.

Work means money.
Money means:
a winter holiday in the Carribean sun
replacing your rotten shutters
a new car (preferably a Mercedes)
nights out at a taverna with friends and laughter
a trip to the putanes over the border in Bulgaria, in your new mercedes (as some of the  local business men used to do every November)

The money is spread around, everyone prospers: the small business that cleans the hotel sheets, the local fishermen who sell their early morning catch on the waterfront, the fresh frozen potato man who operates out of his house and the beach bars that sell craziness on the sand.


Kyriakos and his water taxi ' Socrates'


Stathis from the little mini market at Neorion beach peddles furiously taking orders to tavernas and cafes all over the island.  He is in training for a winter job as a ski instructer  in the alps.  His bike pulls a laden trailer,  leg muscles screaming as he climbs up Neorion hill and over the top past the Poros Image hotel.

Every enterprise is set up to serve the tourist and the local community.  The small neighbourhood grocery stores stay open all day and deliver at any hour.  Grandparents and young children get roped in to sit at the till, weigh out the snails, stack the tomatoes.  Beach bars like our local at the bay below open at 9am and stay open until the last customer goes home.  One man drinking a slow beer may keep them open till 2am.  That's summer.  These two guys have set up a couple of tents in the field next door and take turns having a siesta when trade is slow.

The locals work long hours in a normal summer.  I worked at a swimming pool  bar for three years (many years ago) and 15 hour work days were the norm.  We did it gladly because of course the money we made kept us going through the winter when everything closed down.  Poros locals do spend a lot of time in cafes in the winter but that is what seasonal work means.  Unfortunately the tourist season which used to last here from April to November now lasts only the  hottest summer months, July and August. 

this is it folks
taverna by the sea
Rainy and Tony


Poros  lost a lot of its tourism after the fall of the English holiday companies at the end of the 80’s and is taking a long time to recover.  We need a leader with initiative on the island with fresh ideas and the will to implement them.

 Regular air travel to the other islands is now available from cities all over England . It is so much easier for tourists to fly straight to the island of their choice and be transferred in minutes to their accommodation.  Coming to Poros means a one hour bus ride from airport to harbour, a wait for boat or hyrdrofoil, 1-2 hours travelling, and then a taxi to accommodation.    Greek tourists took over as the roads improved and it became easier to come  Poros from Athens by car.  1 ½ to 2 hours, a short car ferry ride and you’re set. 



National Day
a young George in traditional dress
Long Live Greece
'freedom, education, bread'


Winter employment is difficult.  Nearly all tavernas close down and only half the cafeterias will remain open.  Olive picking is hard, dirty work in the freezing winter months.  Nothing romantic about it.  Long hours starting in the frost and working through till early evening through drizzle and misty fruitfulness.  Most olive pickers are family and they get paid in oil so they can ensure their years supply. 

Lemon and orange picking used to be an option but prices have fallen so far that a lot of orchard owners let their fruit drop and rot.  It is not worth employing someone to pick and pack them.

The Navy base provides bursts of money with their visiting days but generally winter is a time of café hibernation.

our house in the hills
right hand side at the back
 


Domestic tourism, especially in these islands in the Saronic gulf just out of Athens, is picking up.  We still have August to go so all is not lost.  I shall be the one hibernating till all the tourists go home.  Our house in the hills is well away from the bustle and noise of the waterfront.  We have the beach below us and the bar there in the early evening is quiet and Manolis and Marcos have time to sit and chat with K about tomorrow's weather and fishing prospects.

with friends on the island of Agistri
also in the Saronic gulf
where K's father was born
 
 
summer days at the navy beach bar
K on the left, Kyriakos on the right
 







 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

church supplement and photos

Sometimes you need something to break up the text.  Yesterday's was a wee bit meaty but I sent it off before succumbing to the heat.  So here are some photos to break the monotony.

Just a note about greek church services.  They are mostly informal, sometimes VERY.  At the little churches where the service takes place inside with the congregation outside everyone sits or stands, walks around, chats and gossips, crossing themselves where appropriate, wandering up to light candles or kiss an icon.  Children run around and are hissed at or hugged by parents, hairy aunts and adoring godparents. Seating is on walls, handy rocks or cement benches. At weddings and baptsims it is common for the priest to stop the ceremony a few times and tell everyone to be quiet and listen to the holy words he is saying.  Church is a social occasion.



Another of the panoramic views of Poros and harbour from Elli's rooftop terrace - with friends and family



the little church beside the sea where grandson Jamie was
baptised a few years ago.  Duck as you go through the door



Papa Georgi and his chanter in preparation for dunking Jamie.  He went under three times

Linda enjoying an iced coffee (frappe)


bottles of pickled olives and some of last summers hot peppers














Wednesday, 22 July 2015

JULY and the SUMMER SAINTS


The summer months are full of church holidays, fiestas and local celebrations.  Nearby towns on the mainland part of Greece called the Peloponese celebrate the artichoke and the aubergine and the olive.

Translations:
Agia - female saint
Agios - male saint
Panagia - Madonna/Virgin Mary




June30/July 1 Agious Anagyri  Τhese two saints go together.  Their names are Kosmas and Damianos and they were healers.  There is a huge festival at the monastery of Agious Anagyrous, about an hour and a half away on the mainland.  We have been most years in the early evening before the crowds get too much.  This is summer and the evening heat and the crowds can be overwhelming.  Besides the service at the monastery there is also a kilometre long open-air market where we have bought a wooden paddle for our outdoor oven, children's clothing, bags of nuts, pillows and assorted household china, books and souvlaki with cans of cold beer.  First of all we queue up outside the monastery gate and are let in a few at a time.  The inside  line to get into the tiny church and light a candle is crushing.  The monks inside the church are chanting and cover us all with incense.  There is no room for more than a few of the faithful so everyone must drop a few coins in the box beside the candles, take two or three simple brown wax tapers, kiss the icon of the two saints and slowly make their way to the sand box, plant and light the candles, vigorously crossing themselves, before being released to the fresh air of the garden.

Around midnight comes the climax when the icon of the saints is brought out and taken around the monastery walls.  It is usually preceded by a local band and followed by priests with incense burners swinging, chanters and altar boys carrying candles.

We didn't go this year because of the crisis.  Next year we'll be there,  Mrs Merkel and God willing.

July 2  the little church called Vrysoula (meaning, the tap, as it is built beside a spring).  This church is dedicated to the Holy Belt of the Panagia (Madonna)  Once again it is a tiny church and the congregation stands outside to listen to the service.  This church is also popular for baptisms and weddings.  It is set back from the road under the spreading chestnut trees and there is a trough of running water which makes it so cool and fresh in the summer.  One of the icons in the church has been painted by K's cousin.

July 7  Agia Kyriaki  the little church at Liminaria on the island of Agystri.  Liminaria is the birth place of K's father and many in the small village are related to us.  We haven't been on the actual fete day of the church but were there to see the preparations one year.  The main street (50 metres long) was strewn with the branches of a fragrant local plant and was wonderful to inhale as we rode over it on our scooter.  The church and the street were covered with strings of flags and the one taverna had extra chairs and tables set up along the roadside ready for the many hungry visitors after the service.

17 July  Agia Marina  This saint is known around here as the protector of small children.  After reading the official accounts of her life I cannot see why.  There is a small church dedicated to her just below our old house where daughter Elli now lives.  Almost the only service which takes place there is on the eve and the day of her fiesta.  My sister-in-law used to take my 2 daughters there for communion.  Now they take their own children.

20 July  Profit Elijah (Elias)  His churches are always built on the top of moutains (or hills) though I am not sure why even after studying him on Wikipedia.  There is a folk tale which explains it all but this is not mentioned and I am not going to tell you either.

25 July Agia Anna.  This little church on the outskirts of Galatas, the village across the water is looked after by the Galatas inlaws, Nota and the maiden aunts.  They clean and polish this tiny church, put doilies and fresh flowers around the icons and polish the silver candlesticks.  The church is another of those tiny white churches with just enough room for the priest, chanter and a few of the more devout.  It has a tall Cyprus tree hugging one side, almost built into the walls.
St Anna has two festivals, one in July and one on 9 December.

26  July Agia Pareskevi.  This little church is just across the hillside from us and is a very popular celebration.  The Mayor and dignitaries turn up at the fiesta along with what seems to be half the population of Poros.  The road down to the church is very narrow and creates a huge traffic jam.  Most people come to the evening service on the eve and afterwards either go down to the bay below where the beach bar serves up roast pork and has live music and dancing till the wee hours or they go up to Paradise Taverna at the top of the hill and have their traditional roast pork there with cold beers and wine.

I make the 'five loaves' (with out the fishes) and a loaf of special bread with a holy stamp in the middle.  These are blessed and then cut up and passed out at the end of the service.  Many local women make these loaves along with other cakes and sweets made with olive oil.   It is a mad dash to get a bit of everything.  The 'five loaves' are a sweet bread and I use a recipe from Crete which has cinnamon and cloves, red wine, orange juice and 'mastiha' which is the resin of mastiha tree from the island of Chios and has an unusual aromatic flavour.

These are the local fiestas but every area has its own special saints and martyrs.  The greatest feast of all the year is on August 15, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.  It is a national holiday and Greece closes down to celebrate.  Athens is empty, Poros is full and has traffic jams.  Every little church, monastery and municipality that is named after the Virgin Mary will have parades, church services, processions and feasts with local specilalties, wine and  some sort of roast or boiled meats.

Before the 15th August many will have been on a 15 day fast so there is even more reason to eat drink and be merry.  I always think it would be a good time for the Turks to attack.  There would no resistance whatsoever.  But if Mrs Merkel tried a new trick I'm sure she would be completely ignored.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

GREEK LIFE

www.local-kiwi-alien.blogspot.gr


We have learnt to throw around 'millions and billions' as
though they are just a few euros, change for our purse.  We learnt about capital controls, GDP growth rates and 'Standard and Poors', as Greece's credit rating dived into murky depths with the likes of Sudan, Zimbabwe and El Salvador.

 We know all the European officials by their Christian names, sour old Wolfgang Schauble,  haughty Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, white haired Christine Lagarde, successor to French amore Dominique Strauss Kahn who lost his post as head of the IMF when he was caught with his pants down in a New York hotel room.

  It is time to put all of them behind us.   The deal is not signed,
 the fat lady has not sung, but the road looks like leading us to a Greek revival.

Spit on us all three times , ftoo ftoo ftoo.  Keep that evil eye away. 

I just looked up 'Standard and Poors' current credit rating for Greece.

 CCC   outlook stable  

Down in the town this morning there was a different aura.  Shoppers in the supermarket buying fresh tomatoes, whole ripe karpouzi (watermelon), melons and peaches.  Outside, the 'green chairs', K-approved café,  was full of coffee drinkers.  The taxi boats were buzzing fully laden from Poros to Galatas across the strait.  I yelled half a dozen sunny 'kalimera's before getting down from my quad bike.  Catherine's bakery was handing out scrummy long loaves of brown, white and multiseeded  bread. The cheese pie shop had feta cheese, sausage and spinach pies hot from the oven. The meat market had a few customers, not just those reading the 'death and memorial' noticeboard.

Every year we have seen small tavernas and cafes open and then close down here on our little island. Souvenir shops have almost disappeared.  Jobs in the tourist industry have gone with them.  

  Maybe now our friends  newly opened  *meze taverna will stay open in the winter and they won't have to  rely on their goats, milk and feta to survive in the off months.

* meze -  snacks : salted sardines, olives, fish roe salad, octopus or kalamari, whatever is fresh and seasonal served with raki, ouzo, beer or wine

 Maybe Elli's clients will pay the money owed to her office as their  businesses  finally make a small profit and maybe she too will get paid in full and on time.

  Maybe the Mayor will have enough money to fix the jetty which fell into the water two years ago. Maybe he will fix the potholes which bounce my quad bike all over the road, and maybe we can again have  some fireworks at New Year.

Maybe I will be able to buy an english magazine sometimes.  Maybe I will be able to indulge in some new knitting wool this winter.

 Maybe K will be able to meet his friends and continue with their old Wednesday get together and chew over the local gossip and football scores. 

Greeks are social people.  Without that interaction (social intercourse, as Harry would say) they shrivel and  fade, no longer those plate breaking, loud talking, singing, dancing, light hearted humans.  Even  German holiday makers lighten-up here, attempt a little Greek, kicking off their birkenstocks, dancing like zorbas, drinking ouzo and forgetting the towels draped since dawn over their deckchairs. 

The cooling meltemi has started blowing from the north.  This  north wind, freezing in the winter, blowing down straight from the Russian steppes, is a welcome breeze in these hottest summer months.

Now that the pantry is full of macaroni our greatest fear is not hunger but fire.  K and I were drinking our iced coffees this morning under the lemon trees when we both noticed the whiff of smoke in the air.  We went out into the road to scan the sky but except for a slight blue haze in the bay below the skies were clear and sunny. 

That was yesterday.  The meltemi became gale force winds which whipped up fires all over Greece.  By dusk there were 72 fronts being battled by volunteers, firemen, helicopters, Canadair firefighting planes and army apaches.

Instead of 24 hour politics we were watching 24 hour smoked filled horror.  On the outskirts of Athens on the slopes of re-forested Mount Hymettus the flames engulfed a house as we stared at our TV screen.  A politican who arrived to speak in front of the cameras was told to take off his jacket and help fight the flames.  He made a hasty retreat. 

Mount Hymettus used to be known for the quality of its thyme scented honey.  Now there are only brown and grey slopes with blackened tree stumps.  I hope the bees escaped.  However,  two beekeepers were arrested for starting the fire. 

A new dawn.  The winds are not so strong and most of the fires are at least controlled, but not before burning houses and businesses.

Last night there was a cabinet shuffle.  Nothing to be excited about.  It was a difficult choice as no-one wanted to be in the unpopular position of putting into action more tax laws and sacking more public servants.

Tonight the family gathers to eat the fish K and the grandchildren caught.  7 year old Natali has become another fishing fanatic, happy to get up at 5.30am and thrilled to catch 3 fish.  They went diving as well and brought up scallops, the perfect meze for an ouzo or two.

All is well till Monday when the banks reopen and I have to pay all the bills sitting on the bench.  We still have money to pay them so we are thankful. 

Tuna sort of fish cooked on a clay tile
served with beetroot and garlic sauce 





Wednesday, 15 July 2015

REALITY

  Inside parliament building members debate the new austerity tax measures, outside the riot squads are skirmishing with protesters.  Rioters throwing Molotov cocktails are setting fire to cars, rubbish bins, attacking the press and breaking windows.  The Molotovs are the 'traditional' kind so I heard.  They spread fire spectacularly along their path, as seen live on TV,  but do not explode.

The riot squad is out in full battledress, shields, helmets, battons and guns.  Police are also guarding the Ministry of Finance and other key sites of possible violence.

Syntagma Square, famous for the changing of the guard in their snowy white skirts ,  is now a battlefield.  Parliament building is at the top of the square and THE Hotel Grande Bretania on its left.  Guests paying thousands of euros are right above the action getting a close up of a different sound and light show.

When the anger dies, this is  realityThe end result of five months of negotiations.









By Peter Gelling. Follow him on Twitter.

Need To Know:

For five months European leaders have been negotiating with Greek leaders over Greece's need for a new bailout. And for five months the news media have been reporting on every incremental development. Well, an end — and not the dystopian one we all predicted — might have finally come this morning.

Overnight talks, which might be described as strained or perhaps frantic, or both, appear to have been successful. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who came to power promising to stand up to the demands for austerity from European leaders, agreed to a series of austerity reforms.

In exchange for up to almost $100 billion in bailout money — which would bring the total bailout money Greece has received since 2010 to more than $350 billion — Tsipras will have to rush through his own parliament tax hikes, pension cuts, and the creation of a debt repayment fund. It's going to be awkward since many of his own party object to such harsh reforms.

And the Greek people? Well, they aren't going to be happy either. They are going to have to pay higher taxes and lose some of their hard-earned pensions because they were led for so long by an ineffectual and corrupt government. It hardly seems fair. One Athens resident described the deal as "misery, humiliation and slavery."

But Tsipras hardly had much of a choice. Such austerity was what the creditors — who had already loaned the country hundreds of billions — demanded. And without more money, Greece's economy would have sputtered and by some predictions the country would have collapsed and ended up as some kind of failed state.

.So the fact that a deal has been reached comes as a relief to much of the world. For the Greek people, however, relief is a long way off.
 
 
AND YET ANOTHER QUOTE and oh so true
So much has been written about Greece and its crisis.      Corruption is everywhere, not just in Greece.  We must preserve  this country  with its unique traditions, its vibrant people, its laid back attitude and zest for life . Forgive us oh mighty Europe for we have sinned 
 
GREECE.................................
A society that has learned to survive on tax evasion, lawlessness and corrupt practices, from the Prime Minister to the last newspaper kiosk owner, and from the hospital manager to the small tavern owner. A society with 35-year-old pensioners, blind taxi drivers, paid sinecures in the public sector, people who receive pensions 10 years after they died, doctors who declare 10,000 euros yearly income and countless other categories of happy Greeks who live splendidly while destroying the economy.
 Now all these people, and they are not just a few, see the new reforms as a danger to their well-being. They see the “greedy” Europeans as the ones who want to impose evil things such as tax audits, public employee evaluations, debt repayments and retirement after 60. In other words, they hate to see practices and rules that apply to normal countries apply to Greece because… “we are unique, special people.” So on Wednesday, public sector employees, municipal workers, pharmacists and doctors will go on strike to protest against the harsh reforms the Greek government is about to bring in order for the country to stay afloat and (hopefully) get on the path of economic recovery.
 
 

 
 

Monday, 13 July 2015

A-GREEK-MENT


10.15am greek time
Eurozone Leaders made a joint statement that they had come to an agreement with Greece.  This pact with the devil will not be finalised until some of the measures are passed by the greek parliament but it seems the danger of Greece leaving the euro and Europe is passed.

Tsipras like a true politician is making this out to be a victory, having sidestepped, for the moment some even worse measures.  He has clinched a deal which will bring Greece 'to its feet and help us move forward'.

Germany has once again been described as the Third Reich .  

The comments below are  typical of what is being heard in this country.   They say it all better than me.



..............................................................................................................................................
Its a tough one ..... - like being trapped in a nightmare I would imagine.I've read a lot of articles on the situation from media in many countries and its clear that there is hardly a single fact the two sides or the journalists can agree on. Even estimates of the size of Greeks debt seems to vary widely. How the hell can the two parties reach agreement when no one is prepared to be open and honest about what is really happening.
It seems that even though both sides have been desperate to get an agreement their negotiating skills have been appalling and now its come down to the wire and egos on both sides are exposed and raw.
Ric the writer  - visit his website     www.ricthewriter.com
.................................................................................................................................................
 
....... this European list of demands is madness.  This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.
let’s be clear: what we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line
Can Greece pull off a successful exit? Will Germany try to block a recovery? (Sorry, but that’s the kind of thing we must now ask.)
PAUL KRUGMAN



.......................................................................................................................................................
Aris M.     Greece
Dear Greek Government,

 The Greek people are watching aghast what is happening now in Brussels. This clearly is not a negotiation. It is a humiliating action against Greece and the Greek people.
 
 

......................................................................................................................................................................
If you doubt how it might play on the Greek streets, consider the headline of Dimokratia, a conservative tabloid: “Greece in Auschwitz: Schauble attempts eurozone holocaust - 
Last night the eurozone leaders presented Greece with an ultimatum that shredded all vestiges of control the government has over the economy going forward, and reversed every law it has put through parliament since being elected with 36 per cent of the vote in January. - See more at: http://blogs.channel4.com/paul-mason-blog
.................................................................................................

THE REAL GREECE.  Two photos to remind us all that life is good.  Greece is still a holiday destination which must be experienced once in your lifetime.  We're still laid back.  Those loud greek  voices aren't arguing.  They have even more to debate now.  The 'Cyprus problem' was chewed over for years by the greeks, now it will be their own prospects, the greek demise that will be gnawed like a bone and spat upon for a long long time.

My mother said 'see Delphi' (the navel of the world) and die.  She visited the site twice.  It is magnificent, built in the mountains a few hours from Athens, above a sea of olives with panoramic views of mountains, temple ruins and the harbour of Itea below.  Eagles soar on the currents of the wind.  It is the site of the seer Pithia, there are temples, a stadium, theatre and tourists buses in plenty.  This is one of the most well known tourist location.  Come to Poros and every step you take stumbles over ancient history.

Or just go for a swim, enjoy an ouzo and octopus and relax.
 
 
 
 

 
THE GIRLS ENJOYING THE SUMMER ON MONASTERY BEACH
DANAE, ELLI AND NELLI
PLAYING BACKGAMMON
 
 

MAGNIFICENT MYCENEAN BRIDGE
4,000 YEARS OLD
 ON AN ANCIENT ROAD SYSTEM BETWEEN
THE THEATRE OF
EPIDAVROS AND THE ANCIENT CITY OF MYCENAE

Sunday, 12 July 2015

DEBT RELIEF?????

FRIDAY
YE GODS AND LITTLE FISHES.  The nasty little details of these final proposals are coming to light.  Greece might be getting debt relief but the GREEKS are going to have five more years of tougher austerity, which is going to put a lot of greek households in even deeper financial trouble.  Looks as though K's pension is only going to be cut by about 6% but increased prices and new taxes are going to make it in reality  20%.  These new measures of course could be changed before the agreement is approved by the rest of Europe, and may be even grimmer.

There is an air of disbelief and yet inevitability.  We might be saved from bankruptcy and destitution but  all tiers of society are going to be hit hard by this deal.  Will it also reach dishonest politicians, double-dealing business men, crooked athletes, the shameless rich and famous...... so many crooks to catch.

The big news today is the discussion in parliament and the vote to give the PM the go ahead to bargain .  Even the opposition parties will vote in favour because they don't want to be the ones to  be blamed for a grexit.  A lot of opposition however is from within Tsipras own party. 

All this added tax will not be good for the islands.
 Poros:  for the last ten years  income has come

1.    from the sailors doing basic training at the navy base. They  bring with them, on visiting days, hundreds of mother, wives and family  who spend  money at tavernas and cafeterias feeding their poor lads who have 'suffered' in the past week/s and got so 'thin and weak'.

 2.  the large number of 'greek tourists' who drive here from Athens on the new road in their big black cars, stay at the two plush hotels and spend a considerable amount of  money.  We have noticed that these people who had money still have the money.  I'm not sure to hope that they get hit this time and pay all the extra taxes or that they have already removed their money from the banks and spend their hidden cash on Poros instead.

Not only will the islands become more expensive but travel and entertainment will become luxuries for people who  are not planning  holidays for this summer and will not be spending any extra on non essentials.

Poros day to day:

Our elderly neighbour, Vaso, brought us a large bowl of homemade 'noodles'.  She  spent the last week making a dough with flour, semolina, eggs from her chickens and milk from her goats.  This she rolled out very thinly, cut into strips and then into squares smaller than your smallest fingernail.  Long hours of delicate work bent over a table in the summer heat.  These little noodle squares are laid out on clean sheets on every surface of her house, on the beds, chairs and tables, and left to dry for two or three days.  They are then ready to be eaten or packed away, usually in a clean pillowcase.

My mother-in-law also at this time of the year used to spend days making the same 'hilopites', kilos of them to be given out to the family and keep them fed during the winter.  I helped her...once.

A similar dough (trahana) is dried and crumbled and used as a base for soups.  Good filling nourishment on a cold winters day.

SATURDAY

The Greek parliament agreed to back the Prime Minister in his negotiations.  Today it is the turn of the Eurozone finance ministers to consult.  German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble as usual continued his negative statements saying the present proposals aren't enough and he couldn't trust the greeks to implement them.  Rumours would seem to be correct that he wants a grexit for the good of the rest of the Eurozone countries and to put the fear of god into them.

I just read somewhere a terrific suggestion.  Tsipras made a great sacrifice and sacked his minister of Finance in the name of smoother negotiations,  Now it is Merkels turn to sack her finance minister.

SUNDAY
Not D-Day after all.  European leaders want Greece to show that it will implement the reforms and must pass some of the laws by Wednesday.

We seem to have a few more countries, cautiously, on our side.  There will more tough talks this week.

I have had enough.  What I feel today is frustration  at a certain future about which I can do little or nothing.  I have not listened to any news today and am just hearing the headlines now.
sunset from Elli's roof terrace
looking over Poros harbour




 Banks are still closed, withdrawals are still limited.  The referendum was a farce and Tsipras has done a 180o turn on his election promises.  Maybe a grexit is the better plan.








Thursday, 9 July 2015

WEDNESDAY BEFORE SUNDAY

BLACK WEDENSDAY
The news today is depressing.  Εnough to make me swear in desperation.  What the hell do these politicians think they are doing.  Ηow can they play with the lives of 11 million people.  If Tsipras signs a new bailout agreement, why the  @#$%  didn't he do that 5 months ago.  Τhe economy is 5 times worse now and the strain on the ordinary greek will be so much heavier..   

Last year and for the last 3 years we have paid a 'special' property tax.  For us it came to about 50 euros every two months.  This was supposed to be continued in 2015.  Why wasn't it.  The tax brought in millions.  Yes, we complained.  Yes, we paid it.

Yes, we do all want to live the good life.  Yes, tax evasion used to be a national game .  Yes, early retirement was a norm.  K retired at age 48.  ( he had been in the Navy since age 13).  Men should not be allowed to retire till they can find a new occupation/diversion/hobby.    Yes, we can all see and agree that there MUST be a huge change in the old way of thinking.

There are so many obvious changes that should have been made.  Some are happening slowly, some should be initiated over night.  We have apparently 800,000 civil servants.  Thousands have left in the last few years but the EU want thousands more sacked.  You can see why.  300 members of parliament get around 6,000 euros a month, free cars  and innumerable perks.  Cut their damn salaries in half and halve the members of parliament.  Cut the Defence budget.  We're a member of NATO for goodness sake.  We don't need anymore lopsided German submarines for twice the true price.  The media moguls owe millions in back taxes.  The german company that built the 'new' Athens airport owe millions in taxes and social security.  The big fish tax evaders need to be prosecuted, jailed AND MADE TO PAY.

Money under the table is still being given to doctors although prosecutions  are becoming more common for accepting 'presents' of money to do a better job.  What about the Hippocratic oath? The older generation believe that without a little extra your surgeon will not do a good job or leave you for months to slowly die before you get on his surgery list.  I wouldn't want to be on that doctor's surgery table EVER.

The last time we went out to a tavern with a crowd of friends the bill was presented to us with a whisper of 'it's 130 euros just for you.'  What they meant was, that it was  only 130 euros (for 10 people) but don't ask for a receipt.  One of our crowd got angry and demanded a receipt and said he would pay the difference himself.  It should have been 160 euros.  Everyone else jumped on him.  That should not be happening anymore.  Yes, give a better price to your friends.  Just tell them the price and give them a receipt.

Tsipras spoke to the European parliament today and we had continuous coverage on most tv channels.  His speech was applauded by the left wing but there were many angry voices in reply.

One of his German colleagues asked him if he wanted to be remembered as the saviour of Greece or go down in history as the leader who brought Greece to ruin.

Yesterday the message was toe the line and sign the plan agreed on by the Troika - IMF, European bank and the European Commision  -or prepare for Grexit and maybe expulsion from the European Union.

THURSDAY
I heard the French national anthem being played on greek TV and turned around to see the headline GREEK/FRENCH ALLIANCE. French President Hollande has provided the greek finance team in Brussels with some of his best consultants so we can put forward a serious and FINAL bailout proposal. 

The revolutionary anthem La Marsalliese seemed the perfect accompaniment to this announcement.  The French Finance Minister sent a Tweet 'Greece, we are with you'.  France and Cyprus (obviously) have been Greece's only supporters in the last few weeks.

Some smiley faces on our tv screens today.  Even a few discussions on our future.  When the banks will open, if next months pensions will be paid.

Daughter Elli is going on to half days.  No-one is coming in to prepare their tax returns and the backlog has almost been caught up with.  She'll be happy to spend afternoons on the beach again.  This is the summer after all. 

WE are all learning a whole new vocabulary.  CAPITAL CONTROLS is the latest and one I would prefer not to know.  It means 'controlling the money of the people' and is why we can only get 60 euros a day from the ATM.

Greece needs to print a whole new dictionary.  'Technocrat' is another word which has come up in the last few years and the latest from American Lew is 'geopolitical'.  If anyone knows what that means then please let me know.  The current greek dictionary does not have any of these words.

Greece has been cut off from financial access to web services.  35 airlines including Emirates and Turkish airlines no longer sell tickets through greek sites.  How can we escape.

Kostas, sister in law Karen, grandson George, son-in-law Yiannis
 on our back verandah

Crisis countdown (Thank you BBC)

  • Thursday 9 July: deadline for Greece to submit proposals
  • Saturday 11 July: eurozone finance ministers meet
  • Sunday 12 July: all 28 members of the European Union meet to decide Greece's fate
  • Monday 20 July: €3bn payment due from Greece to the European Central Bank
REFUGEES - rioting on some of the islands.  Their papers are not coming through fast enough.  Food is being provided in a trickle.  Suppliers have stopped supplying because they have not been paid.
Imagine 3000 hungry souls, women with babes in arms, rushing the emergency kitchens for a loaf of bread.
 
More arriving every day.  A boat sank yesterday drowning almost all aboard. 
 
Today we started eating some of our emergency supplies.  Lentil soup . This is a beloved dish of the greeks.  We usually eat it once a week during the winter. Traditionally it is eaten with olives, feta cheese and salted sardines.  We have a little feta and jars of olives.  We didn't miss the sardines.  This dish has vinegar in it of which we have litres of 'homemade' and you dunk stale bread in the sauce.  Great way to get rid of that before it goes mouldy.
 
Tomorrow we may start on the macaroni/spaghetti.  Macaroni salad or spaghetti with a Mediterranean tomato sauce or even macaroni oven baked (the same tomato sauce and a bit of white sauce on top).
 
If Sunday brings an agreement and we pay the European bank on Monday and the Greek parliament agrees to the proposal and if the German parliament passes the bill as well...................then I shall have a macaroni party and give out free toilet rolls.
 
 


    Tuesday, 7 July 2015

    life goes on

    Cicadas start trilling at 5.45am  By 5.47 they are all in full deafening chorus.

    Congratulations on the majority 'NO' vote  were sent to Alexis Tsipras from Fidel Castro and the President of Argentina

    Varoufakis resigns - our outspoken finance minister for the last 5 months stepped down because he was getting up the Europeans nose.  Ahah but he'll still be 'consulting', so there.
    We'll miss his daily messages to the people.  A short note on twitter, a reversal in a BBC interview, a revised version to CNN and a denial of all it to the greek people.

    He was popular, with his dress code of no ties, shirt untucked, collar turned up and press conferences in jeans and t-shirt.  The greeks love his rebel style.


    EUROPE says - it will be interesting to see what the greeks have to offer after they have all voted against the Europeans.  Talks must start again from the beginning and Greece will have to show it wants to stay in Europe and stop calling us terrorists.

    GREEKS say - we go armed with the will of the people into the mother of all battles .  Our position is so much stronger now we have the majority of our people with us and the opposition alongside.  We are certain of a fair bailout deal.

    I  watched 'other' news on a foreign news channel.    The rest of the world is not glued to their tv sets waiting to see what Tsipras will do next. 

    NZ has a weakening dollar and the poor dairy farmers are getting lower prices for their milk. 
    CHINA's economy is 'worsening' whatever that may mean
    IRAN is having nuclear talks with some one
    WIMBLEDON the tennis champs are battling it out.  We used to watch Wimbledon.  It was shown on the national tv channel.  They no longer have the money and it is on NOVA (cable or satellite) which we do not have
    DALIA LAMA is having his 80th birthday
    A UFO was sighted over MAUNGATAPU.
    ALEIN life has been spotted on a comet, of all things.
    MY gosh, I'm missing out on so much, especially alien spaceships in NZ.   

    Another  thousand mainly Syrian refugees landed on the island of Leros yesterday.  The island of Kos has accepted 6000 refugees so far this year. Facilities for them are zero.  Refugees are arriving daily on all the islands along the Turkish coast. Every month 800 refugees are given air tickets and paid to go home.  This money ended on June 30.  The rest are fingerprinted and receive papers a for six months stay in Greece.  Most of them are transported to Piraeus and left at the harbour or dumped in the centre of Athens where the problem is even worse. Some already have relatives here who look after them, some find work.  Most of them 'sunbathe' (as a govt official suggested was the case)  in the big squares in Athens. 

    Other countries have even bigger problems.  Ye gods and little fishes, you mean Greece isn't really the centre of the earth.  But Delphi is the tummy button of the world.  Homer
    said so.

    Drinking frappe (iced coffee), eating vegemite sandwiches, tapping away on the computer and listening to the oysterband.  My kind of heaven.

    Have you ever heard of the Oysterband.  Real good toe tapping Irish stuff. 

    Kostas is away in Athens today.  He has carpel tunnel syndrome again only worse.  Fortunately there is a boat today so he only pays 21 euros return instead of 50 on the hydrofoil, all public transport in Athens is free (last week and this week) and the Navy Hospital will treat him for free.  However it is around 36o today.  Not a time to travel.

    NB about marmite or vegemite.  Travellers, don't forget us when you're coming this way.  Marmite/vegemite, ginger nuts, pineapple lumps/chunks and an 'english' magazine.

    We were getting used to this austerity business and now and again could surf around EBAY and bid on  cheap bargains from  clothes to fishing gear.  Greek credit cards now only work inside Greece.  Paypal is off limits to Greeks.  We don't have the money  for foreign goods  anyway.

    WE SUPPORT GREECE, whether we like it or not.

    In 2010 when wages were sliced and pensions just about halved we were just getting to enjoy the consumer life style.  Over the last 5 years we got used to austerity and even came to see it as a good thing.  But even that 'less is best' lifestyle has come to an end.  Now it is save and survive. Waste not ,want not in all its reality.

    Love to you all.  Thanks for all your emails, support and news. 
    The media makes it sound so much worse.  In fact we're all happy and well fed at the moment, on this island at least.