Monday, 27 November 2006

Some of those days...

Do you sometimes have some of those days that seem shorter than you need? I have them all the time in Greece. It's like life is sneakily eating hours from the day. Not only in winter. Also in summer hours pass without you noticing them.

In the winter this feeling is stronger. But then the days are also much shorter. When you get up at seven it starts to get light and from 4 o'clock in the afternoon the light starts fading. At five it is pitch dark. The Greeks, having their siesta in the afternoon, go to sleep in daylight and wake up in the dark. Then they have a coffee, as if it is morning and at about 10 PM they sit down to a light dinner.

I love to have a siesta on a summer afternoon, but in the winter I think it is a waste of the daylight hours. And even though there are 10 hours of daylight on a winters day in Greece, I still have the feeling that they are much shorter than in Holland.

Take last Saturday. At 7 we woke up because the dogs were barking frenziedly. We thought: donkeys in the garden, so I turned over to continue my sweet dreams. Jan got out of bed and half an hour later I heard him having a conversation. Still sleepy, I wondered if he had started having conversations with dogs and donkeys. I got up and found him all agitated. He had caught two refugees on our land, roaming the houses, looking for something to eat.

Jan showed them where the road to the village was, but they did not want to go there. They did some circuits of our land and then disappeared into the undergrowth behind us. I thought it better to call a neighbour, who called the police. One of the refugees came back, but still didn't want to take the road to Molyvos. He said he had a sick friend up there, pointing to the bushes behind our house. So what should we do? The neighbour was there in 10 minutes. The refugees disappeared into thin air. They didn't even show up when Jan went looking for them, carrying a pack of toast, so that at least they would have something to eat.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny morning. No wind. On the sea some fishing boats floated that close to the coast that it seemed they were sailing the fields. Perfect rest, but there was still this unsettling feeling about those refugees. After about an hour and a half the police finally dropped in. They had to come from Kalloni, because during the night there are no police in Molyvos and the police station only opens at half past 8. So when there is a real emergency, you'd better call your neighbours.

The two policemen listened patiently to our story. They looked at the mountains rising behind our house, shrugged as if to say: 'what can we do?', thanked us politely and left.

So we decided to to a little walk in order to see if the refugees were still somewhere at the back of our house. We could not find them. Coming back there was a man who just got off his motorbike and ran into the undergrowth. He didn't answer when we shouted to ask who he was, he was in too much of a hurry. He didn't even look when one of the refugees re-appeared, carrying some shopping probably bought in the village. I told the refugee boy to sit down and wait, until the man we supposed to be a policeman, came back.

The poor boy was very frightened, asking if it was a bad cop and if he would go to prison now. We assured him that it was a good cop and that he would probably go to a refugee centre. But he did not trust the policeman running after his two friends, who successfully managed to hide themselves. When the policeman returned empty handed, he looked at the boy, ordered him to go and get his friends and to be at the bus station at 1 o'clock. The man jumped on his bike and left, leaving us perplexed.

At 1 o'clock we drove to Molyvos to see if the boys followed these orders. They were not there and coming home we found all three of them on the road in front of our house. We offered them a ride to the bus stop and wished them good luck. What else could we do?

By then it was 2 o'clock in the afternoon, too late to drive to the Hot Springs of Lisvori, which is what we intended to do. We had a light lunch and went collecting wood. And suddenly it was dark, evening, with the fire to be lit and in a few hours we were in bed again.

The next morning our landlady came to tell us that we were to collect the olives that morning. There are not that many olive trees on our land, but we always get a good quality oil which we can never finish in a whole year. So on Sunday morning we collected olives (Greek mornings mostly end at 2 PM). We finished with a marvelous lunch in the sun and after that we took a short walk in order to give the ouzo a chance to go down. We had to hurry back before it got dark!

Sunday night I got news that my Monday morning would be no exception. Something had happened to our house in Amsterdam, so that the whole next morning I was on the phone and writing and sending emails. Then it was time for our lunch appointment at Tsonia: a beautiful ride, a walk over the warm beach and a super lunch. It was dark when we got home.

People often ask us what our daily life is like here in Greece. Well, this is about what we do... And wonder where all of those 24 hours a day should normally have have gone to.

Copyright © Smitaki 2006

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