One of the (many) things which irritate me is people referring to the ‘eye of the storm’ as where the most violent winds are. It’s not. The ‘eye’ of the hurricane is flat calm. Not that I have ever been in one, but I learned that in the meteorology course in college.
That was the impression Sunday morning. After the arguing and shouting of the political debate which had been raging for days and seemed to reach a crescendo on Saturday morning and the roaring in support of the football team in the evening ….. there was a quiet, a hush. Had the storm passed or was this the ‘eye’ with more to follow? Even the church bell only rang for a minute or so to announce the beginning of service.
There was no clamour outside the polling station. A few at a time were making their way to the hall being used for the purpose, many of them elderly people and dressed up for the occasion. Obviously election day in small-town Greece is a world removed from Athens. No TV cameras or pundits asking exit questions. More a family affair.
For my last day in Kardamili before I move on to Areopoli tomorrow I put together a route on paths I had walked before but in a different combinations. I had 3 objectives in mind: to revisit the tiny church with the bats; to have another frappé in the tiny taverna in Proastia; and to go to the less accessible and very quiet Kalamitsi beach for a good long swim.
The walk to the church was on a path I had only taken in the opposite direction and was as if I hadn’t walked it all. At a couple of points I missed the turn-off and had to backtrack.
The reason for going was to check that the bats hadn’t been freaked out by being photographed yesterday. They are remarkably sensitive to changes in light and temperature so even opening the door and going inside could have spooked them. I peeped over the door without going in and saw they were still there and in the same numbers.
Having eased my conscience I headed down to Proastia and made straight for the taverna. It was closed. I didn’t know whether that was because it was Sunday, or siesta time, or what. When a couple of old guys came, expecting to find it open, it became clear. The owners had gone to vote. I started talking to one of the guys in a mixture of Greek and English and, as I have found is often the case with elderly people over here, he asked if I was German. When I explained no, I was Welsh, he seemed relieved and intrigued. He was clearly dredging his memory and then he put me in my place by saying “Ουαλλία! Είναι πόλυ μικρή” (Wales! It’s very small). I couldn’t disagree. He pulled a silver coin out of his pocket to show me, an old Italian lira coin, and then became very passionate about what the Italians had done to Athens in WW2. Obviously something he felt very strongly about even after all these years and felt he could unburden himself to a lone, itinerant Welshman.
As I headed off to continue down to the beach I could hear him explaining to another of his mates who had arrived that I was Welsh and explaining where Wales was … and presumably how small it is. I hadn’t felt it appropriate, or even faintly possible given my limited Greek, to explain to him that yes, Wales is small, but we still beat the English and won the Grand Slam yet again this year (that’s in rugby for those who don’t know).
Good swim. Laze in the sun. Back to Kardamili for a frappé. Meal. Live music at a seafront taverna. Then started to pack ready to move on. Decided to go out for an ouzo at the end of the evening. Portugal were playing Holland on the huge TV screens in all the tavernas except one. The coffee shop opposite the hotel, with the biggest screen and the most chairs, was showing the reports on the election results. That was where the locals were gathered. The shouting and arguing was now all over. But the results mattered. Very much. That was where I had my ouzo.
It seems that the likelihood is a coalition between the New Democracy Party and PASOK the socialist party centred around finding a way of staying within the EuroZone. I find that comforting. The way ahead will not be an easy one but the alternative, the New Drachma, would be more traumatic for Greece and for Europe. Destabilising the currency is not a good way ahead for a country so dependent on tourism, that is clearer in a place like Kardamili than it is in Athens.
Time to move on.