Being back in Greece feels so comfortable….of course, I don’t speak Greek and of course, I still have no sense of directions….I can walk 1 km and have no idea how to get back but I don’t care……always possible to find a solution somehow. There are so many things that are different here – the little elevators that hold a piece of luggage and 2 people maximum, turning on the hot water 20 minutes before a shower, metal shutters over the doors and windows that always challenge me to operate. The apartment where I have been staying in Athens has been completely renovated and the shutters work off a remote control. Best of all I love hanging my laudry outside on the clothesline and bringing them in smelling of the hot sun. It is a smell so delicious that I cannot stop breathing in the intoxicating fragrance. In Toronto, I have a rack that I put out on my balcony hoping that my building manager won’t knock on the door and tell me to remove it. It isn’t the same though. I think there is a special scent from the Mediterranean sun.
Today I had lunch in a restaurant in Illiopoli. I ate there once before and I remembered that the food is like home- cooked Greek fare. Today I had Pastitsio with a half order of steamed Swiss Chard. Pistitsia is a noodle dish cooked in a tomato meat sauce and covered in a Bechemel.
I am writing now on board a ginormous ferry that will take me from Pireaus to Heraklion on the island of Crete. There I will cross the street and board a bus that will take me to Aghios Nikolas where I will catch a taxi to the Dulac Hotel. At this moment I am drinking my first Mythos beer – a cold mug of draught and it is delicious. At least it is in Greece. I lived at the Dulac for 5 weeks in 2011. When they asked me what I did, I said I was very lucky to be able to do my work on the internet. It was somewhat true. Later when they learned what I was really doing in Crete (see previous blog), they were very supportive of our project – The Canadian Boat to Gaza – to break the illegal siege on Gaza.
The past 2 days I traveled 700 kilometres to the north with my wonderful friends Anna Stamou and her equally wonderful husband Naim Elghandour. Anna is a candidate in the European Elections which are this week. She is running for the Eco Green party. She wears a hijab, is a true Feminist and believes that women must be involved politically to make changes. She is so intelligent, so caring and never stops working for change. I know that I would not have been as successful with the preparations for the Canadian Boat to Gaza without their help. We went to Xanthi to speak with women and men about the upcoming elections. Xanthi has a Muslim community that has been there for centuries. Until only recently, this Muslim minority was not able to obtain building permits to renovate their home or to build new homes. They worked as farm labourers. The women I met I had been educated in Turkey – sent to boarding school at 12 years of age because of the prejudice that surrounded them from the other Greek communities. Today they are stronger and the laws have changed to allow all Greeks to own their homes and renovate them. Today their children are educated in Xanthi and mothers and children do not have to cry at night because they are separated. Meeting the women of Xanthi was wonderful. We went to the center square where like all Greek communities, people of all ages gather in the evening. One of the women is an English teacher and she speaks English very well. She and her husband met while they were students in Turkey. Now they have 2 adorable children – a girl 3 and a boy 1 ½. She invited us to her home that night for a late dinner and an informal conversation with several women. Dinner was delicious- cucumber and tomato salad, lentil soup, fried potatoes, small meat patties and a traditional pastry – filo dough filled with potatoes and rice.
The wonderful women of Xanthi.
The trip was long traveling 7 hours each day but it was such a rewarding experience. I got to spend some quality time with my friends Anna and Naim and I have made some wonderful new friends in Xanthi.
setting up the booth in northern Greece for the Anna Stamou, Eco Green party. European Elections in Greece are May 25, 2014