Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Day in Pefkochori

Thursday, 29 September

We spent a lovely day in Halkidiki, on the Kassandra Peninsula, about 6 miles from its tip, extending out into the Aegean.  We went to Pelagia and George’s house in the vacation village of Pefkochori.  It’s a vacation spot because it’s picturesque.  You look across the water at the next peninsula to the east.  (Behind that one,  the third peninsula is the Holy Mountain, but you can’t see it.)
You have to remember we are all retired folks; we didn’t actually DO anything.  Such as swim.  Some people were in the water, which was surely warm enough, but the air had a distinct hint of chill which discouraged us.  We sat around a table in Pelagia’s garden and had snacks.  Enough snacks to constitute a whole meal, of course…  Then we sat around some more and talked.  Then we made our way, slowly and gradually, to our favorite taverna there, at the far end of the beach. 

The beach is narrow, less than 100 feet of sand, and parallel to it is the promenade, paved in stones and lined with palm trees and sidewalk cafes and shops selling the typical tourist items.   The water was all gem tones, ranging from peridot to aquamarine to turquoise (mostly) to sapphire in the distance. 

So we sat at our taverna and ate the most divine octopus (tasted like charcoal-grilled steak but very tender) and mussels, which I don’t even like, but these were delicious, and grilled sardines, which I’ve learned to love, together with various salads, cheeses, and veggies.  And we talked some more.  (My diet, by the way, is shot.  There’s no way, here, to diet.  I still try a little, but not enough.) 

Quiz Question:  How many Greek men can talk at once, when the subject is politics, and still sustain an actual conversation?  Answer:  as many as are present.  Quiz Question:  How long does it take to exhaust this topic?  Answer:  It’s inexhaustible.  Quiz Question:  Aren’t there other things to talk about, such as theology or philosophy, or history, or art or music, or just trading funny stories?  Answer:  No.  There used to be, but no more. 

I feel like Scarlett O’Hara, who was so bored when the menfolk talked war incessantly.  Our men aren’t talking any such thing; they know as soon as there is any significant unrest in Greece, the Turks will move in, with the support of the U.S. and U.K., ostensibly to impose order; and that is exactly what some powers that be are hoping will happen.  The Greeks are unlikely to fall for this trick.  But the very impossibility of doing anything except pray about the tyranny renders me just as fed up as Scarlett was.  I’ve taken to amending every toast; whenever people raise their glasses and say, “To your health!” I say, “To freedom.  ‘Hail, hail, Freedom!’ – the refrain from the Greek national anthem.

Demetrios, who had been snappish toward me earlier in the day, stopped by one of the tourist shops on the way back and bought me a watch and had it gift wrapped, even.  Isn’t that sweet?  It’s a tourist type watch, mind you, nothing expensive, but it’s pretty and I realize how much I needed it, how often I’ve been asking him for the time.  I’m one of those people who’ve never had a watch that worked for long, but they were all, you know, jewelry.  This one is bound to last a life-time, if it follows the example of sunglasses. 

We stayed until late evening, then went to Kostas' and Menas' house in Nea Syllata for the night.