Tuesday, 24 October 2006

The new Mayor

It is WARM again on Lesvos! The cold north wind has given way to a gentle breeze. Although there are always clouds clinging to the mountain tops, it is blue skies everywhere else. Even the evenings are that warm that they tempt you to sit outside. The autumn dampness and the rising temperatures make huge mushrooms leap from the earth. Autumn really has started this time.

Last Sunday we had a picnic to celebrate a friends purchase of a new piece of land. The site has a fantastic view. To one side you overlook Lepetimnos. First the village of Vafios, then some lower mountains and finally the tops where the clouds try to roll over. On the other side you can see the small town of Molyvos and its bay, where on that day no wind disturbed the blue surface of the water. When the sun set over the sea and we re-lit the barbeque because of the dampness, no one wanted to go home. You slowly saw all the lights of Molyvos appearing, then the spotlights around the castle, and finally we had a perfect sky above us full of twinkling stars.

Around eight o'clock we were startled by some shooting in the village. Well, when there is a new pope white smoke comes from the chimney. Here in Greece shooting means that there is a celebration and on this Sunday it was because a new Mayor had been elected. A few people immediately took to their telephones and the news was brief: Stelios Karadonis is the new Mayor of Molyvos. Maybe he was not our first choice, but we drank another retsina to his victory. After that our mood was fine, we searched for wood with a torch to light the fire and it was some hours before we decided it was time to go to bed.

Yesterday we were discussing the island and some tourists complained about all the rubbish you find everywhere, especially on Lesvos. Just as in others countries, in Greece every region has a saying about other regions. They say about the people of Lesvos that they are farmers, they spend all their money as soon as they get it and they have no idea what a tidy countryside should look like. Even Cretans come here and complain about the dumps everywhere. The people of Lesvos are also known as the men with pickaxes. This is because they had to clear away all the rocks when they built the airport. They all had to be removed by hand!

I don't know if Stelios Karadonis knows how to educate his people not to throw away their old household wares in the beautiful valleys, hills and mountains. Or if he knows how to stop people throwing rubbish out of their cars while driving. Fortunately there is a municipal council that has a say as well.

Building a new central rubbish dump was no false promise just for the elections. They have started building this near Agia Paraskevi. But they still haven't decided on a site for a new power station. So the main power station in Mytilini has to be enlarged, which is bad news for the people living nearby (near the MINI plant). More households will not be able to hang their washing outside. It is so bad that white washing immediately gets dirty again.

It will take a few more years on Lesvos before they realise how they can have a clean environment. And when they do they'll probably have to deal with other problems: town planning. At the moment all nice spots like fields and hill tops are sold to people who want to build houses. Never mind if they spoil the view for the area or obscure other views. I understand that a lot of people want to come and live here, and are hunting for the best places with the nicest views. But I am sure that when you come back here in ten years time you will not recognise the small town of Molyvos: a clean city full of suburbs with a view of... houses!

NB: There will be no Lesvos News next week, because I am on holiday.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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