Monday, 26 June 2017
Navy school and training base
Poros Hellenic Naval Academy
'Great is the state that rules the sea'
The Navy base or training school is in a commanding position on the causeway just before the small bridge that joins the two islands. You cannot go anywhere without passing the base. This piece of road is a favourite place for the police to set up a road block. If you've been down for a beer in Poros town you're either going to get caught on your return (not that you'll be given a breathaliser test) and asked for your papers or if the telegraph is working then you'll know that there will be a long wait before they pack up and return to the station.
Perfect place for a road block
This is the training school where my greek husband attended school from age 13. Tough times back then. Every minute of their day was monitored. Loudspeakers blared out their next assignment, time to brush their teeth, or eat their lunch, run for fire drill or start lessons.
The Naval School provides boat sheds for the rowing club. The soccer field and athletic track are also part of the Navy complex but used by all the island for sports meetings and football matches
The Navy clock tower. I always check the time as I come zooming down on my quad bike, though time means little here unless you're trying to get to the bank before it closes at 2pm or catch a car ferry. But there is always another car ferry and the bank reopens the next day. Avrio, maniana.
The base started off as a training school for Petty Officers and has been for many years a training base for conscripts to the Greek Navy. Every male over the age of 18 must spend 18 months to 2 years in the armed forces though now because of the economic crisis this has gone down to around 9 months. The conscripts are paid a paltry wage. It used to be 1,000 drachmas a month. Enough to keep them in cigarettes. Now it is probably around 50 euros. Not enough even to get them home on holidays. Families pay for the extras.
When K was assigned here he did 24 hour duty once or twice a week. The base has an infirmary which was then also the first aid station for the entire island. Got a wasp bite and need some cortisone, fallen over drunk at 3am and need a few stitches, fell out of a tree and broke your arm, think you're having a heart attack, this was the first port of call before being sent on to a hospital on the mainland. I well remember one night in the middle of August. 15th August, the biggest holiday in Greece, Saturday night, full moon, midsummer and the island was teeming. They had 40 casualities to attend to, a record for one night on duty.
Now the doctor on duty may well be a dentist or even a vet. All medical emergencies are sent straight to the 24 hour medical centre across the waters on Galatas. During daylight hours if the local doctor deems it a matter of life or death a helicopter may be sent out from Athens to transort the patient to a hospital in the city.
Conscripts now go to the main training base outside Athens and most of the year the Poros school only has minimum personel. There are rumours that it will be closed down all together and the buildings taken over by the Municipality.
Meanwhile it is used to house athletes during sporting events and the lawns beside the sea are a pleasant spot to hold important functions.
The main building
The church of St Nicholas
View of the main buildings from our favourite taverna by the sea