Thursday, 16 December 2010


(The harbour of Mytilini)

It cannot be always summer. So after a night of 19°C, the temperature dropped quickly and the next night it was freezing: so coooooold!

Winter clothes were brought out of the closet, gloves and woollen caps were dug out of remote corners and the fireplace put into action: suddenly it was winter! Up in the mountains snow and ice made the roads treacherous, and although the temperature did move off zero, snow showers kept people off the roads in Skalochori, and Mt Lepetymnos is slowly turning white. The forecast is not so good: winter weather will keep on playing tricks in the coming week.

The day before yesterday a hard north wind drove ice cold waves over the Eftalou boulevard making the already damaged road even worse. On Samos a state of emergency was called when the sea swamped the main quay of the harbour making it impassable for pedestrians and cars. Troops had to be called in to protect the city with sandbags.

Yesterday was a cold but nice day in Eftalou and when the sun drove most of the clouds away the sea seemed to settle. However, in Mytilini a cargo boat from Chios trying to negotiate the port entrance rammed into a jetty damaged several trucks and spilled oil into the harbour. Luckily the Mytilini emergency services are prepared for such calamities and within a few hours the breach was closed, the oil cleaned up and environmental disaster avoided.

Athens also felt the sudden drop in temperature and some parts got a layer of snow. Aside from the weather the capital (and the rest of the country) is facing a difficult week with a big program of daily strikes.

December 14: the banks will strike for 48 hours, so for two days no-one can access their money. Here on the island it’s not so much of a problem because shops and businesses will let you pay later.

There’s also a three hours strike planned by private sector unions. I have no idea what that will mean - it could mean people will just take a longer lunch hours, between noon and three o’clock. It seems to be more like a general exercise for a strike because…

On December 15 the private unions will strike for up to 24 hours. We still won’t be able to tell exactly who is following these private unions and their strike because that same day public officials will also stay at home. The stoppage includes air traffic controllers so we can forget flying to Athens for a day’s shopping. And there’ll be no inter-island travel either - the ferries won’t be weighing anchor for 24 hours. Any attempt to sue the state or the unions won’t go far because lawyers won’t be at work either. Even if you wanted to make a noise in the street to express your anger against the strikers, no-one would know because the journalists are also on strike. So no newspapers or television news - which is not so bad because everybody can easily imagine what the day will be like: chaos in Athens and most people spending the day at home.

December 16: There will be no public transport for the whole day. It won’t be so bad here on the island because there is hardly any public transport anyway.

December 17 & 18: ‘Journalists’ will be on strike for 48 hours, although I think it’s more likely to be support workers because I don’t think journalists will really strike - they are too curious about what is happening. But anyhow, we will not miss the efforts of reporters: they usually bring bad news and anyway, these days we have internet and Wikileaks to give us much more interesting news.

(With thanks to Tony Barrell)

@ Smitaki 2010

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