Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Having Fun

We have been having fun but since I find writing about the details boring, it seems logical to suppose you will be equally bored reading about it. We’ve had good meals with good friends (including wild boar, which turns out to be delicious). We’ve had another of our theological discussions. Subject is still death, but the session went far better this time. George and Pelagia took us to their village of Pefkochori on the Kassandra Peninsula and it was wonderful, but it was an exact repeat of what I’ve described before, here.

On St. Luke’s Day, George and Pelagia and Mena and I went to the Church of St. Luke, buried in the countryside about an hour north of here, to visit a monk, Fr. Luke, who is their confessor. (Demetrios stayed home to work on one of his projects.)

Fr. Luke had probably been up all night doing a vigil, because he appeared very tired when we congratulated him after church. All he said was, “Thank you very much,” and, “May you be well!” which is a Greek way of saying goodbye. So we didn’t stay long.

We passed through various picturesque, hilly villages on our way home with names like Five Springs and Many Trees.   We stopped for refreshment at a spa in the little town of Lagada, where there are thermal springs and people go to take the water. We looked around at the spa’s two gigantic swimming pools,.one for children, including a deep end, and one for adults. Inside, we were shown the “Hydro Massage” area, perhaps 40 rooms, each containing a Jacuzzi — or two. A few photos here.

Then this past weekend, Mena took us to Kastoria, where we met our friends who live there: Katerina and Nikos and all four of their parents and their two children. Kastoria is, not counting some seaside places, the loveliest town I’ve seen in Greece so far, and Greece is full of gorgeous places. It sits on a large, blue lake hemmed in by blue mountains. The lake is full of ducks, geese, swans, cormorants, gulls, terns, and its chief glory, White Pelicans. Kastoria is a leafy, gracious town with many houses in the old and uniquely Kastorian style. It’s also a wealthy city, or used to be.

Mostly all we did (besides go to church and take a marvelous walk up into the heights above the town) was be with our friends, which of course is the best thing of all, but what can I say about it?

The children, Spyros and Semiramis, both speak some English, and understand virtually everything. It’s fun to watch them play cards.

Spyros: Semira, dose mou ena five. (“Semira, give me a five.” The five is in English.)

Semiramis: Den echo ena five. (“I don’t have a five.”) Go fiss!

Semiramis is only three, I think, so she often doesn’t even know what cards she has. She just shows them to her older brother, who takes the appropriate one if she has it.

Spyros lays down his matching cards; Semiramis lays down cards, too, from time to time, not necessarily matching, and the game goes on until they tire of it, neither one having won nor lost.

Nikos, their father, the handsomest man in a country full of gorgeous men, is the only person I’ve met in Greece who has told us he favors the European Union, and highly, too. It was an excellent chance for us to hear another point of view, for three reasons. The first is, he’s a very good man and a serious one, so his opinion is especially worth hearing. The second is, he knows what he’s talking about; he’s a professor, no less, of political science! The third is, having spent most of his growing-up years in Canada, he speaks fluent English.

It turns out I do not really disagree with him. I think he has a dewy-eyed view, is all. He envisions a pan-European state that is brought about by just and above-board means, without cruelty or force, without duplicity or secrecy or thieving or wrecking existing nations, genuinely democratic, and genuinely interested in world peace. He readily admits that what is happening so far is the exact opposite of all that, but says there are two competing agendas and he’s for the other one. Okay. I’ve no problem with that other than thinking it a chimera.

His father, Sypros, now has a blank look on his handsome, blue-eyed face, from Altzheimer’s. Sad to see such an elegant, dapper, sweet gentleman so lost. He can no longer join the conversation. He becomes easily bored and wants to do something else.

Yesterday a thing happened which, although sad, is funny, too. We were eating in a restaurant, and between courses, Spyros stood up and wanted to go outside for a bit. Nobody hindered him.

Sometime later, he came back inside and seated himself at another table, rejoining the wrong family. The funny part is to imagine how startled they must have been! They had accepted him and were treating him as one of their own, however, when we discovered and retrieved him. Apparently they had realized somebody would.

(It reminds me of the time a couple of years ago when Demetrios and I came upon a baptism party. Demetrios and I just sort of slipped in among them, and, um, well, a number of the photos included us.)

Norma, Spyros’ wife, has a hard, hard job, but she is undertaking it with grace, courage, and a positive attitude. Her face betrays her sorrow, but her voice, her words, and her manners do not. She is a great example and inspiration.

We departed in the late afternoon Sunday: up into the mountains, past the signs warning of bears, along the highways rimmed with fences to keep the bears off it, through the valley polluted by the electric company, where they make Greece’s electricity by burning coal, back up into the mountains, through the 13 tunnels under them (15 going the other way), to Berea, where the mountains suddenly end, across the plateau until we could see Thessaloniki spread out below us, and her wide harbor. Smog hung over the city, first time I’ve ever seen it here, and thick enough to turn the sun to deep orange. Into the town, still crowded because a marathon had been held here earlier in the day and home again, exhausted but having had a glorious time.


GretchenJoanna said...

I don't know what details you think are boring, but you must have left them out. You always seem to know which to include, to convey the truth that you lead a very blessed and interesting life!

catechetical schools said...

Nice to meet your blog Anastasia!
Greetings from Karpathos island - Greece!