The photo above was taken on the town beach, just as we were enjoying our Freddos on the beach beds at Chocolicious. I just rather liked the tables and chairs at such an angle. It’s not at all practical, sure, but isn’t it essentially Greek? These actually belong to the Babylon Bar, next door. That’s why you can see the woolly sleeves on the boughs of that tree. Rather unusual, eh? They try hard to make the Babylon a bit like somewhere in the Caribbean. It’s not really something we’d generally approve of, but hypocrites that we are, since we both have a love for reggae music, we overlook that.
Anyway (I really must try and stop beginning my paragraphs with that word!), to the reason why I called this post “Wanted.” It’s been a while since we last took coffee with the neighbours at Angla’i’a‘s, and so yesterday we made a point to wander down there, ostensibly to see if our water bill had arrived in our mailbox, but really to see if anyone was about so that we could cadge a coffee under Angla’i’a‘s huge rubber tree. As we approached her outdoor area, which is a thoroughfare really, but it’s been very much made into hers and Giorgo’s ‘avli‘ anyway, we were rather pleased to see that she was sitting out at her rickety old table with Dimitri, son of Maria, and part of the family that lives in the house below ours. The moment they saw us rounding the corner from our house, the two of them exclaimed, “Well!! They ARE still alive!! Welcome [Καλώς τους!!], “…Welcome! Where on earth have you two been this past few weeks? We thought we’d offended you.“
On the table was a dish with a couple of delicious mizithra pancakes, still uneaten, and a couple of cups bearing evidence of the Elliniko that the two had just shared. There was a serviette holder and a bottle of water, condensation running down its chilled sides. Angla’i’a was up and out of her chair in an instant, “You’ll sit for a coffee. Elliniko, metrio, right?“
As if we were going to refuse. After all, it was precisely the reason why we’d made the stroll down there. They wanted to know the reason for our prolonged absence from their ‘parea‘ and so we explained that, firstly we’d been beavering away painting and decorating inside and out for our neighbour two doors away, and secondly that we’d had a kind of ‘holiday’ staying in our friends’ apartment down in the town for about a week too. Plus we’d had a few trips that had also needed doing, like the one to the Police in Agios to begin the process of applying for our Biometric Residency Permits. We asked Dimitri how often he goes to town, which is, after all, only 6km down the valley.
“Me? Oh, I don’t go to town at all. Soon as I go there, I want to come home. I don’t stay there a minute more than I need to.” He replied. This from a young man who’s probably still only in his mid-thirties and single. Mind you, he is of very diminutive stature. As is often the case in small Greek communities, owing to the limited gene pool, there are frequently those born with various physical abnormalities. In Dimitri’s case, he’s perfectly formed, only small. He probably wears clothes manufactured for those in their early teens, which evidently his mother buys for him, since he never goes shopping. His voice, too, is slightly strained, a higher pitch than one would expect if one were merely to see his face and not the rest of him. He so reminds me of a Hobbit, but I wouldn’t dare ask him to take his shoes and socks off to prove otherwise. Tell you what though, were to he to be around when they were casting extras for Lord of the Rings, he’d have got work for a certainty. He drives an old red quad bike, primarily because his feet wouldn’t reach the pedals in a normal car.
Dimitris is always cheerful, always beams when he sees us and loves to shout a loud greeting whenever we pass on the road. As with the rest of his family, he’s also extremely generous. We only have to do the smallest favour for them, and he’ll turn up at the door with a bottle of goat’s milk and some freshly-picked produce.
So we sat down and were served our Ellinikos by Angla’i’a and the four of us caught up a little. I was compelled to enquire as to whether those last two mizithra pancakes needed eating, and was immediately told to get them down me. Couldn’t let them go to waste, now, could I? We covered the usually subjects, with Angla’i’a also telling us that she really wanted to get vaccinated, but somehow hadn’t so far got around to it. Dimitris, on the other hand, waved a hand in front of him and said, “Not me. Not that I’m against it, but I am apprehensive. Anyway, here in the village we’ve got our own little world. There’s no Covid to worry about here, is there?”
There was no way we were going to take issue with him, but later as we discussed that point of view, we did agree that it’s slightly foolhardy to assume that the village would remain Covid-free indefinitely. Let’s face it, people do come here from other parts of the world, even other parts of Greece, areas where the incidence of Covid is much higher than in Lasithi. There are, (although only four, agreed) houses in the village owned by people from Germany, Scandinavia and the UK, and those people turn up after having flown into Greece, tests notwithstanding, and do bring an element of risk with them.
Plus, as Yvonne (Maria) pointed out, there is the slight contradiction when you hear Greeks expressing reservations about having the vaccine. If I had a Euro for every kitchen drawer in a Greek home that I’d seen that’s stuffed so full of packets of prescription drugs that they could open their own pharmacy, I’d be a rich man. To generalise a little, granted, Greeks are rather prone to rushing off to the doctor for every little thing. The general practitioners are also rather keen to write out a prescription before you can say ‘side effects,’ and even more so to refer you to a specialist. That’s one reason why every Greek town’s side streets are packed full of signs advertising the specialists within. There are “…ologists” all over the place covering every possible branch of medicine. Walk along a side street in a Greek town and you’ll see what I mean. Add to that the paediatricians, the dentists, the private opticians and you have a plethora of choices for having an examination of just about every organ in your body, twice.
When it comes to man-made drugs, the Greeks knock them back enthusiastically and with regularity. Now, I’m no expert, I know, but the way it was explained to me what was actually in the vaccines, I’d say they are a whole lot less risky than knocking back man-made drug concoctions that always carry the risk of side effects, some of which can be pretty dodgy. All man-made drugs have side effects, fact. Now, the vaccine for Covid as I understand it (I’m quite sure someone will rush to put me right on this one, I can sense them limbering up their fingers even as I type this myself), contains antibodies, all of which have been used for years in other vaccines for other diseases. Yes, this particular cocktail is new, but by and large, it seems to this layman that the risks involved are much lower than those from artificially produced drugs, which, after all, are primarily foisted upon the unsuspecting public in the rush to make a profit. There, that ought to give the keyboard experts some ammunition to have a go at me, eh?
Where were we? Oh, yes, our chat with Dimitri and Angla’i’a. Dimitri confirmed that he works seven days a week, all year round. Every month the work changes subtly. It’s only another two months before he begins, along with the family, this year’s olive harvest. They have so many trees that they can harvest olives every year. The olive’s two year cycle is ‘staggered’ among their trees, so that one year they harvest from some trees, and the next from the others. We made the mistake of suggesting we buy some oil from the family. By the time we’d drunk our coffees, expressed our warm appreciation for the fact that they were so put out that they hadn’t seen us for a while, and Manolis, now a spritely 89 years old had turned up and sat down with us, it was time for us to go back to the house. We couldn’t leave before Angla’i’a had told us to hang on a moment. She dashed into the house and came back out a few minutes later with a carrier bag, and this was what was in it…
Yes, that bottle is full of olive oil. Our enquiring as to whether we could buy some from our neighbours had promoted her to decide that we evidently were in need of some to replenish our supplies. By the time we’d walked the few minutes back up to the house, we’d both again expressed our appreciation for these wonderful, humble people, among whom, almost exactly two years ago now, we’d accidentally landed ourselves, plus the fact that they’d missed our company.
Just to finish off, once again, it’s photo time…
Above: From the South-western end of the sea front at Ierapetra, you get this view looking eastward across the bay. Can you spot the young girl’s face (in profile) in the mountains?
Above: View of the town beach showing the Venetian Fortress, now almost completely renovated. We’re looking forward to it finally reopening for the public to go inside.
Last two above: We used to admire these plants on the local beach at Kiotari where we lived on Rhodes. They’re Sea Daffodils, or Pancratium Maritimum, and they’re quite magnificent at this time of the year. They grow in such hostile conditions. This beach is actually a lot nicer to look at than these photos would suggest. It’s east of the town and right beside the road, but is seldom crowded…
Plus, looking the other way, you see this in the corner of the beach…
Above: Again, it doesn’t look much, but as I sat there on that wall at around 6.30pm the other evening, I was able to study, wading in those marshes, a Sandpiper, a Turnstone and a yellow wagtail. I was sitting so still that the sandpiper came to within a few feet of me. That gave me a thrill. Both the Sea Daffodil photos and the beach shots were taken at around 6.30pm.
That’s about it for this one. Hope you liked it. See you soon.