Sunday, 1 March 2015
Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Wednesday, 4 February 2015
(The river in Eftalou)
There is a new wind blowing through Greece that gives most of the population hope. The dust that it has provoked and now blows over Europe is like the Saharan sand, that came with the heavy southern storm that scourged most of the country a week later. Athens was filled with a red dusty haze, as was Lesvos; the sun became hidden by a layer of fine desert sand and dust.
About the new government and its leader ‘sexy Alexi’, as we like to call the new premier of Greece: there is plenty of information so I don’t need to write about that, except to say that the Greeks suddenly dare to believe in life again, even though the weather is bad, with grey clouds and lots of rain. Summer seems as far away as Europe being able to deal with Greece’s new demands.
By December we’d already had freezing cold and snow. A month later we were presented with warm weather, although that was seasoned with lots of rain. More recently we were confronted with a southern storm from the Sahara, which killed many a tree, window, etc. As a dessert to end the storm the wind changed to a westerly, what made the damage even higher.
It is not often that Lesvos has to endure such heavy weather. Do you want to know how your holiday island looks in winter? In Skala Kalloni the Gulf looked like a furious ocean, and also Skala Eresou was not safe from the raging waves. In Mytilini on Monday schools kept closed because of the troubling weather, the desert dust crept everywhere and the waves keep overtaking the quays (below the video there are some beautiful pictures). Close to Plomari a tree fell on some electricity cables, causing a blackout of at least 12 hours for the majority of the little city. Here in the north we had some kind of ‘flasher electricity’: it seemed to be going on and off and just as you prepared for total darkness, suddenly it powered-up again. I presume that this was hard-going for all our electrical equipment. No wonder these devices do have not a long life here in Greece.
In Eftalou there was only a single tree on the beach thinking it was nice weather to go for a swim; although in the hills (like all over the island) some farms suffered damaged. Only in the last night the fuming sea hurled over half the beach onto the street and the river that has rippled over the street towards the sea, since the rainy days began, has now transformed into a real roaring river, which I don’t dare to cross, even wearing jackboots.
But while the dust storm raged over the country, an article appeared on the internet mentioning 15 of the most beautiful streets in the world shaded by flowers (Bored Panda): number one on the list was the agora of Molyvos with its Japanese wisteria, which changes the street into a purple tunnel when flowering in the spring.
Some years ago there was a little panic when this enormous climber fell ill, but the people of the village took such great care that she became healthy again. Now even though she looked a little pale with her wet branches in the last storm, I am sure that in a few months she will again show her scented flower-power.
Years ago the ‘boulevard’ of Eftalou was badly damaged by a western storm and it has never been repaired. I don’t mind, because unless they want to drive into the sea, the speed devils can no longer use the road as a racetrack. But this just shows how deep the crisis is in the country and I am wondering how fast the new government can change this.
It is a fact that this first month of the New Year, a storm has raged over the country: first a political landslide followed by a real storm that covered the country under a layer of Africa. There is much damage, some which cannot be repaired, like the historic arched bridge of Plaka in Epirus, that fell apart due to the heavy rainfall and its pieces disappeared into the fast flowing river. But thanks to the political storm most Greeks will sigh a bit and then set to work to clean their windows of the Saharan dust and the crisis. Even a nasty sand storm cannot cover the joy for this historical month of January 2015. When the Japanese wisteria comes to bloom in the agora, there will be no talking of complaints anymore but joyfull conversations and plans for a new Greece.
(with thanks to Mary Staples)
© Smitaki 2015
Geplaatst door smitaki op Wednesday, February 04, 2015
Sunday, 25 January 2015
Wednesday, 14 January 2015
(Snow in Anemotia; photo: Takis Xatzidiakos)
The New Year presented Lesvos with a thick layer of snow; especially in the higher regions and the mountains where it was plentiful. It got Agiasos renamed Small Switzerland: even without snow this little mountain village is picturesque, but with a layer of snow it is like an Alpine paradise and photographers can’t get enough of it. I also saw pictures of Anemotia in the snow, nearly as beautiful as Agiasos.
The first winter I spent on Lesvos was also pretty cold and had mainly lots of sleet. As soon as the snow whirled down, all the villagers came out to see the spectacle: snow in Molyvos is very rare they said. However the next winter, in 2004, was even worse: you couldn’t count the snow falls anymore and Molyvos coloured white more than once. I then concluded that Greeks must have bad longterm memory, because they pretended the snow was very special, but I had then seen snow two winters running. There was so much snow that even Eftalou and her beaches were white and of course nobody claimed to ever have seen that before.
I must admit that since then winters have become a lot milder. Since then I have not seen snow in Eftalou. Even though the highest peaks of the island, Mt Lepetymnos and Mt Olympus have, now and then, gathered some snow, last winter they remained green. And whilst Agiasos once or twice has turned into a Christmas postcard, it was never for long, nor as beautiful as this year.
It is clear that you cannot trust Greek winters. On any one date temperatures can vary immensely. Take for example New Years Day. In 2010 temperatures reached 23 ºC and in 2007 they went down to minus 7ºC. Last New Years Day the thermometer barely reached 3 ºC and last few days it has descended slowly to below 0, so that in many places - even at the seaside – there were frozen water flacks and many broken water pipes.
Low temperatures do not have to be a problem. What’s really unbearable is the windchill. At the beginning of this year a wind from the north turned into a nasty storm and made being outside nearly impossible. And this Voreas keeps on blowing his icecold Siberian breath over the island: what a chill!
Personally the new cold year surprised me with a nasty flu and so I did not enjoy all the beautiful sights with the snow nor did I go for a walk in the snow. Buried deep into a warm bed yesterday my thoughts were in the harbour of Molyvos (and all over Greece), where Epiphany was celebrated. The priests, while most of the villagers were present, blessed the sea. During these kind of celebrations everyone dresses up and from deep under my pile of blankets I could feel them shivering in the almighty cold. The low temperatures, feeling even lower due to the wind, did not prevent a group of boys from standing ready in bathing suits to dive into the water, looking for the cross which the priest throws into the sea. Not even a mighty Ice Queen can halt this tradition.
Armed with a hot water bottle at the feet and hundreds of Kleenex around my head I have lots of time to muse about this New Year. Just like the weather reports that cannot get rid of the cold, the political barometer also tends to storm. The news of the attack at Charlie Hebdo (the French satirical magazine that I used to read when living in France, but for years now lost sight of) hit my bed like a heavy earthquake. I was wondering if this magazine would have already prepared for next month a special issue about Grexit, a Greece without the euro or Europe without Greece. So I slumbered away into a world where the drachma would re-appear.
I dreamt about a procession of strangely dressed people, straight out of a Jeroen Bosch painting, who swarmed through the narrow and snowy streets of Agiasos. In each street more people gathered. They merrily waved with big piles of drachmas and started to make a fool of the Greek Gods. Their behaviour became more and more obscene and their screaming louder until the village and the snow disappeared because of the huge congregation of people and everything became a pretty straggly gruel.
In a few weeks the Carnival will start and for the Greeks this means the opportunity to satirize everything they do not like in life: the Greek carnival are The days of Satire, because on those days nothing will be spared, even the Holy Church. Beautiful Agiasos is especially known for its incisive political satire. And I am sure there will be lots of laughter this year during carnival, because the worse life is in a country, the better the satire. And no Kalashnikov nor any other violence will prevent the Greeks from this great carnavalesque criticism.
The best wishes for 2015
(with thanks to Mary Staples)
Geplaatst door smitaki op Wednesday, January 14, 2015