Friday, 11 September 2009

A blow went home

(Picture by Igor Alexander: The most famous man of Lesvos)

For us this summer was kind of turbulent. We had to say a final goodbye to a good friend and two other friends left the island because they were ill. We also had some strange pets in and around our place. First the big wasp; we had lots of little frogs jumping around and then we got the Family Mouse, which we tried to deport without the help of any poison or a mousetrap.

The biggest disturbance however was caused by the fires. We do not live in the most affected area where the arsonist of Molyvos is active —although he did once strike near here — but several friends of ours live in around the places that were struck. But besides these wildfires, there were some little fires around here. Like our washing machine recently caught fire (I never thought a washing machine full of wet clothes could burn). I think it must have been our Mouse that caused a short-circuit. However, there was an upside to it — we discovered a snake was living behind the washing machine. When we moved it away, he fled under the refrigerator, and when we moved the refrigerator, he got stuck under it. So now we can proudly say that we killed a snake with a refrigerator.

Some days later our car nearly caught fire — because we forgot to top up the water and brake oil. Our ‘garagist’ told us we should do it more often in summer, but it was the heat that made us forget, of course. Recently during a dinner at the neigbours, their bottle of gas burst into flames and our neighbour very bravely put out them out with wet towels. So you can understand that all this fire fighting has made us a bit fidgety.

Then last Sunday morning a drunken driver drove his car into a telegraph pole, just close to the camping site on the road to Eftalou. The villagers haven’t said anything about who dunnit, which makes me think it might be someone local. The rumors are about a drunken woman or an under-aged boy doing some joyriding. Anyhow, whoever it was got off lightly, but the same was not true for the telephone pole. That came down and cut off all phone lines and internet connections to the whole of Eftalou and parts of Molyvos.

On Sundays although telephones and internet are always working, the people at OTE, the Greek Telephone company don’t have emergency crews standing by. You really have to wonder if OTE cares where or not its customers in homes and hotels have phone and internet services.

I do have to admit, however, that a Sunday without internet and telephone is a surprisingly quiet day. We did not have television either because we overlooked paying our bill to the cable TV company on the due date. A weekend without news and weather forecasts is also a new experience. Although, when the weather suddenly went crazy, with summer ending, cold and rain coming we didn’t know whether it was going to snow (it certainly felt cold enough).

On Monday the telephone remained silent, and there was no internet connection either and even after we paid our bill, the cable guys didn’t re-connect us (it turned out the people who built a new window also cut the cable).

This is how Eftalou got a new attraction: an army of OTE workers has settled down near the camping site, with a different collection of cars each day, and you can see them drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and shouting into their mobiles. They really are well set up, playing with the cables and climbing up the telephone poles. They have a lovely time with people passing by making small talk (but wondering when they will get the telephone again!) and the tourists have their cameras rolling because it is an unusual event to see such a gathering of OTE men. They now work under a brightly colored umbrella, trying to tune in to the telephone exchange, which I heard is one hell of a job.

The Greeks here now think they are living in darkest Africa. How is it possible that a repair job like this takes so much time? As I write this on a Thursday we are still without telephone and internet. Near the camping site you occasionally hear shouting so something must be happening. A day without internet and telephone can be a pleasure, but when it goes on and on, the hotel reservation system doesn’t work, you cannot get or send- mail or use skype, so modern life is impossible.

When a neighbor asked an OTE-man if he could photograph him, the man smiled brightly and said proudly: ‘I am going to be the most famous man of Lesvos. Everybody is taking pictures of me!’. I think we better put up a sign near the camping: ‘Photography forbidden!’ because if not it seems likely we will still be without internet and telephone for another week.

(However, now, as I write this on Friday morning, we are very happy to announce that late on Thursday afternoon we got our telephone and internet working, thanks to our neighbor (again, thank you Igor), who begged the OTE-man to put us on top of the list of houses to be reconnected — after the hotels. If he hadn’t done that who knows, we would have had another quiet weekend without communication).

(with thanks to Tony Barrell)

@ Smitaki 2009

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