Home Away From Home

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Little George was a trooper
Last time on: Life of I. John had gone home, Dean was alone in Athens, and a baptism was imminent. Almost all of that has now changed. Yes, John is still at home, or at least in Saskatchewan, but Dean is now with his cousins in Tripolis once again and the baptism (as well as a wedding) are no longer imminent. The baptism, for my cousin's son, George, was nice. I somehow made my way by foot to St. Nicolas church (in the Koukaki area of Athens) and managed to have a much less traumatic experience than George, Diane, Niki, Lee, and Kelly, who hiked from the other side of the acropolis and were accosted less than delightfully in the markets (nothing serious, of course, or I wouldn't be so flippant). Little George did well, hardly crying at all until he was covered in oil, and who could blame him?

Let the dancing begin!
It was raining, so the day Trippers (aka the Tripolis Five aka the only other guests at the thing that I knew) skipped out on the reception, leaving me alone though Gus & Christina (& her father) made sure I wasn't abandoned. The reception was quite nice actually, good dinner, I met a guy named Gregory who'd been to Saskatoon and spoke some English, and his wife who hadn't and didn't but humoured my 'interprative Greek' very patiently. They invited me to dinner at their home on Saturday, though I was unable to attend, but very nice of them nonetheless. Then the Greek dancing started up and even little George was getting in on it, good times.

Craziness in Omonia
That night also happened to be the night of the European finals in basketball, pitting Greece against Germany. I didn't get to watch the game aside from the final minutes, where Greece confirmed its victory and all hell broke loose in Athens. It was wild. The streets went from empty as we left the hall to full of honking and yelling that could be heard across the city. Gus dropped me off at my hostel, and I quickly dropped off my valuables (except the camera) and grabbed the last metro train to Omonia. We had a bit of an adventure stopping in Syntagma Square, and I say "we" because I was joined there by hundreds of revellers heading to Omonia, where the party was. The train didn't move for five minutes, so we all got out, drums, airhorns, and all, and danced and chanted in the subway until the train was ready.

Car Party
Omonia itself was crazy when I arrived, but got progressively crazier VERY quickly. I've never EVER seen so many people in one place, cheering and singing and I myself probably sung the Greek national anthem 10 times (one of the few cheers I actually knew beforehand). People had scaled the six storey high public art piece in the square, fireworks were being lit off, flares waved proudly along with flags, banners, and anything that looked remotely patriotic, firecrackers were exploding at peoples' feet, and in all directions car horns could just be made out over the roar of quiet moments. After an hour or two or that, however, it got a little tiring, so I walked back to my hostel (quite a distance) and the interesting part is that almost ALL THE WAY BACK it was lined with cars deadlocked on the road, filled with people singing and waving flags and honking. Unbelievable.

Little Marina
I left the next day to visit my family a little more extensively in Tripolis and the village and have pretty much been doing that since. I spent a night in the horio but it's a little different now that it's not summer and the girls are in the city. That said, Lee was there, I got to spend some time with Maria and her kids, finally see Kosta, and of course with Uncle Ted and Aunt Marina. Stephania has definitely earned her nickname, Tsunami, and little Marina (who just celbrated her first month here) is tiny and cute. As for Tripolis, well, I've gone out a few times with the girls, usually to hang out in the cafes Greek style (which means there's usually a small dose of backgammon involved - current score is Dean: 5, Kelly: 1 though I'm confident I'll lose that soon) and a lot of socialising. I regret not taking John shopping here, there are a lot of cool stores that I didn't see in Athens.

Me & the girls
I also went on a grocery shopping binge with Kelly, it really is amazing how quickly food disappears around here! I tried to make my dad's famous baked apples, but I suppose I discovered there's a reason they're my dad's and a reason they're famous. I failed miserably. Well, they tasted OK, to be fair, but they weren't quite right in a lot of ways. Niki and I have been having a Pacino-athon of sorts, Theodore & I managed to finish a puzzle the girls had sitting under their couch for over a year (I'm told Larissa did much the same thing when she was here), and basically, I've just been hanging out with everyone. And I should also do my customary book recommendation for the week: John le Carre's Absolute Friends. But good things must surely end, and I'm off next week to figure out what I'm doing with my remaining couple months in Greece. I'm leaning increasingly towards language lessons, since my reason for coming to Greece was, in fact, to learn Greek and not get some small-time job, but that small-time job is also becoming a necessity as my bank account spirals ever closer to zero, so we'll see. Maybe I can do both somehow. We will see.

Priest of the Rings
One other item of note was that I found out my Uncle Ted was Koubarro (godfather, of sorts) at a wedding and so this past Saturday we went up for it. It was easily the latest wedding I've ever been to (and could ever hope to attend). The wedding started at 8:30 before accounting for Greek time and the fact that the wedding before was also on Greek time, so we didn't really get things going until 9:30. The reception we arrived at just past 11 PM and we didn't get to eat dinner until after midnight. Not often you attend a wedding one day and the reception the next (with bride and groom still in full gear). Unfortunately, as a result of this lateness, the rain (on which our drivers are woefully over-cautious), and even by my standards an hour and a half trip, coupled with the kids getting sleepy and/or even falling asleep, we pretty much ate dinner (which was quite good!) and ran. It was a nice wedding, though, and even if we didn't get to party it up after, I'm still glad we went.

Little Bride, Big Bride
So that's where I am now. I'll be in Tripolis for another day or two before setting off for who knows where. I have a line on a job in Athens working in a hostel (a guy I met in Ios), I saw a lot of help wanted signs when I was in Ios last, I have a line on a language school in Crete (and a friend who's offered me a place to sleep if I do), as well as another friend travelling through the islands for a week or so. So the options are definitely on the table and I will probably investigate all of them.

<George's Christening Photos>
<Craziness in Omonia Photos>
<Wedding Photos>


Anonymous said...

A friend in Crete, eh Deano. I suggest taking the language course. I mean your friend a has lived there long enough, that he/she could teach a little bit of the language themselves. ;)

Dean said...

That's the hope, anyways. :)