Monday, 16 January 2006

On our way to Africa!

O, island of Sappho, how cold it was last week! A stormy north- eastern wind seven days long battered our house and when at night you glided between the bitter cold drapes into your bed the wind kept on thundering around the house. Too cold to read at night in bed, but I slept as best I could in that crazy wind.

Also it was boring weather. No sensational rainfall, there didn't even fall one drop, the wind was not strong enough to cause severe damage, the sun did not put on magical sunsets because it mostly was hidden behind thick formations of clouds and the temperatures played around the 1 and 3 °C. The anemones kept closed their flowers and the almond trees forbade their blossoms to open.

And the Greeks? Well, you did not see them nor hear them. Most of them thought it to be too cold to pick olives, although the amount of sacks at the Olive Press kept on being even, so there must have been people harvesting. Maybe they needed the money or they wanted to finish if off. There are so many olives this year that the end of the harvest is still a long way to go.

We did not even feel the earthquake on Sunday afternoon the 8th of January that woke up the whole of Greece out of their hibernal sleep. It was good that we did not get afraid, because quite a few people did run from their lunch table in order to flee outside in safety. But it was mainly on the small island of Kithera, some 200 km from Athens, that there was some severe damage. They say that we really got lucky because this earthquake, which was 6.9 on the Richter scale, was that deep under the sea that there was only minor damage.

The week that followed people were afraid that there might be other quakes. But the earth kept still, although I heard somebody saying that in one step we got 10 cm closer to Africa. (Somebody else heard somebody else even say that this was 5 metres!) If I may believe the papers, the continental plate where Greece and Turkey reside, and whose front is in the Aegean Sea at the southwest of Greece, moves each year 1 cm closer to that of Africa, which of course will sometimes cause some friction. Well, at least I think it is a nice thought that we are moving towards a tropical continent instead of towards the North Pole.

Because it was a quake in the sea, the papers were also full of speculation about tsunamis. If you asked a Greek last summer if there could be tsunamis in Greece, he probably would have said: no. But now I read in the paper that in 1963 a huge wave six metres high came up from the Gulf of Corinth 400 metres inland and 2 people were killed and many injured. The scientists more and more agree that the once so rich Minoan culture, whose Palace of Knossos on Crete is one of its best known remains, got swept away by a tsunami which was caused by the eruption of a volcano on the neighbouring island of Santorini.

Although all danger of earthquakes was soon forgotten when the avian flu in Turkey got serious. The Greek government is getting ready for this flying disease and different from the last time now all Greeks realize that this flu can reach Greece as well. In the past days all poultry were ordered inside. Not that everybody is shutting up their birds. Today we kept on crossing chickens, turkeys and geese. Not everybody maybe was reached by the common crier, here in Eftalou I did not hear anything. Fortunately Eftalou does not participate in the electronic common crier system. Sometimes when you are in Molyvos you get scared to death by a metallic voice which suddenly asks which stupid person has parked his car in the wrong way or announces the hours for the holy masses. We will stay free of this old communication system and for some time we will not hear anymore kukeleku or the sound of the always quarrelling turkeys. It already is pretty quiet, but now this island will be even more quiet and in quietness it will continue to slowly slowly glide towards Africa.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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