Tuesday, 17 October 2006


It is COLD here on Lesvos! It is not a nice autumn here; all too suddenly the summer finished, giving way to wintry weather. You may think that's pretty normal for October. Not here. In October on Lesvos there should be plenty of warm autumn sunshine so that the countryside will be brightly coloured. In the daytime you should have the time to say goodbye to the hot sun while picking up chestnuts and enjoying lunch outside. In the evenings you should sit outside enjoying a soft night by a fire. Now slate grey skies cloak the island and a cold and sharp northern wind howls over the mountains and through the valleys. I must admit that we were waiting for black clouds. But the idea was that they should bring rain and not just fly over the island. Why else would we want dark clouds?

The island is still very dry, unlike the rest of the country, where floods and other watery disasters are daily news. The few drops which have fallen on Lesvos were just enough to grow some meagre grass and for the autumn crocuses to sprout, but the environment here needs a lot more water.

Yesterday we were surprised by a sunny day with nearly no wind. We took the opportunity to go for a ride, because the weather forecast was not good for the next few days. We went to Palios, where even in summer small pools are filled with water where frogs and turtles have a merry life and where the unique Ruddy Shelducks have their home. They were not there this time, because the pools were nearly empty. Some of them still had just a little bit of water while others were like an African landscape with the dried earth full of cracks. Very sad.

The strawberry trees though didn't look too bothered by the drought. The round strawberry balls they carry as fruit were already cherry red and tasted lovely. The sea was soft and warm from the sun. Today I cannot imagine that yesterday I swam in the blue waters of the Bay of Palios, looking out to the mysterious White Islands (Nissi Aspro), shining brightly against the background of the Turkish mainland. At the end of the afternoon the beautiful weather suddenly stopped, as if the good weather was a mistake. The wind got up, speeding up during the night. Today it is a stormy grey day and it is that cold that you steal looks at the mountains, wondering if some snow may already have fallen...

The municipal elections also didn't bring any sunshine. In Molyvos, just like 4 years ago, they were won by the parties of the present Mayor Lefteris Vogiatzis and that of Stelios Karadonis. This Sunday the elections will not be so exciting; I think the most interesting parties are already out of it.

In Petra it was more exciting. First here is the report of Karin Haake about the first night, when the Speakers Corner was set up in the main square in Petra: "A huge movie screen was set up and was attached with ropes to the wooden electricity masts at the other side of the street. A first check was done, the microphones and cameras etc. were checked. While the promoters, the official representatives from the church and the army and the public were watching and waiting on the nearby terraces the unexpected happened: A tourist bus came from the direction of Anaxos not expecting any problems. The driver, who did not see what was happening (there were no warnings at all), continued as usual. So all the spectators watched while the bus, which was pretty high, drove through and took all the ropes with it. You saw in slow motion, like a house of cards collapsing, the fall of the movie screen, the spotlights which crashed and the cameras which fell to the ground. Then, as though on purpose, a few minutes of silence... And then the big drama unfolded: men waving their arms in the air, shaking their heads, some nearly lying on the floor in despair, shouting and screaming. The bus was already gone, the driver probably pretending not to have noticed. One policeman joined the chaos, but there was nothing left to be done. Harsh Greek discussions started and within half an hour they started rebuilding, so that the speeches could start just on time."

This was only the start of the election hassles of Petra. Now they say that people in Skoutaros perpetrated fraud on the first Sunday of the elections, so they'll probably have to do it all over again.

Nothing new either with the secondary school teachers, who demanded a 45% rise in their salary and to get it went on strike just one week after school started in September. They're now on the 5th week of their strike and everybody is complaining. Not only mothers, who do not know what to do with their children, but also people who get annoyed by the children hanging around on the streets and being so bored that they harass passersby. While in Athens tough confrontations take place between the police and the striking teachers, supported by the parents, in Molyvos all complaints are about the teachers who fail the children so easily and for so long.

So nothing is new under the sun, which doesn't even shine here on the island. Everybody gets bad tempered and that is maybe why they forecast a cold winter. It is like the olives feel the same. They started colouring too soon and are already falling from the trees. This has nothing to do with the weather, but with insects which infect the olives. Because nearly everybody on the island now grows organic olives, they're no longer sprayed with pesticides. So the flies have the time of their lives attacking the olives and the olive presses will have to open a month earlier.

Or do the olives have a premonition about the weather and should we expect a hard winter? I will get out my winter clothes. Kalo Chimonas!

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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