Saturday, 17 June 2017
A Greek farce
17th June, almost mid summer season and our local beach bar at Vayonia Bay has been taken to pieces like a broken jigsaw. We, and all the other visitors, tourists and locals, have nowhere to sit, nowhere to drink ouzo, nowhere to shower after a dip in the sea, no sunbeds to sit on.
Sit tight and let me tell you a tale. A drama, a comedy, a Greek farce.
At easter the bar was open as usual and doing a roaring trade. The sun was out and foolhardy northern europeans were actually bathing.
Fast forward a few weeks. The bar is closed. The licence has to be renewed.
Days go by. Weeks of hot weather, three long weekends, an island full of city slickers. The bar is still closed. The sunbeds are stacked above the beach. Toilets are closed. No cold beer, no iced coffee, no ouzo and meze.
Beginning of June. The archealogical department hands down an ultimatum. The beach bar must be moved lock stock and barrel 10 metres to the right. I kid you not.
This has been the site of the bar for the last, how many, fifteen? years. Now there is an empty space. The toilets still stand lonely as a loo can be at the back of the old bar area.
Finally, almost three months later, the owners have their licence. They have taken the bar literally to pieces and are reconstructing it 10 metres to the right. Why did the bar have to be moved 10 metres?
The land on the left hand side of this road is designated Zone A by the Archeological Department and cannot be used for anything but sheep and goat grazing. The land 2 metres away on the right hand side of the road is Zone B and you can build on it.
We are talking about a beach bar here, a temporary structure.
This island which owes its existence to tourism is under the thumb of some official in a ministery who only cares for red tape and the letter of the law.
There are probably ancient ruins all over and under the bay and the hills above but they are never going to be investigated, dug up or studied, not in my lifetime or my grandchildren's I bet. The islanders have lost income, the council has lost revenue, the government has lost taxes.
And we have missed our Sunday ouzo by the sea.
Grandson decided to go swimming anyway and stood on a spiny sea urchin. He spent all the rest of the day painfully digging out the broken spines from his foot with a needle and a pair of tweezers. If the bar was open the owners would have cleaned up the beach and removed all dangers like this from the shallows.
Ghika the billy goat is the only one to benefit from this chaos. He and his harem have had the beach to themselves. Once the invasion starts they'll take to the hills.
And this is not the only beach affected. Monastery beach is usually full on a hot weekend like this, all sunbeds occupied, tables full of holiday makers eating and drinking at the canteen. This year there are no sunbeds, no canteen, no people.