Monday 30 May 2011

Greece is going from bad to worse and this is only the beginning.  Will we go bankrupt or go back to the drachma and  devalue the currency till it costs us a million for a loaf of bread?  I think we're are lucky we don't live in Athens or maybe we wouldn't have bread to put on the table.  Money is a lot tighter but we still live comfortably - just differently!  Chicken was the main course on Kosta's name day but we did manage a small piece of pork.  I have money boxes for all the little extras.  Crossing fingers that we'll never be at poverty level!  Driving the car up and down to Poros town is a luxury and I have to get a cheap motorbike and use it.  I don't mind walking downhill but walking 5 kms uphill is not an option though some crazy tourists even try and ride up on a the mid-day sun.  I still baby-sit for Elli most of the week so transport is an essential. 
Spain has had big peaceful protests and one of their recent slogans was 'sshh don't wake up greece'.  Greeks got going on face book and thousands were out all night in cities all over the country and the same thing is happening today.  Just big peaceful protests by ordinary people who can't take any more.  Taxes on basics and luxury goods are going up.  Every thing is 'luxury' now!     There will more  big pay cuts and K's pension is on the list for another cut.  Danae is very lucky to be still getting a child allowance but it won't be for long.  Thank goodness the kids are out of nappies and baby food! 
It has rained all winter long and everything is green and continues growing.  It is still raining even today.  Our garden looks as tho it might finally produce some summer vegies.  We have already eaten the first zucchinis tho it is defintely not summer yet.  I love this cool weather - others hate it.  Kostas has taken a lot of time and trouble and hoed and raked one small area and sewn grass seed - oh and put in a watering system.  One of his cousins (of course) is a gardener in Athens in the rich northern suburbs.  He told us what to do and gave us the seed  so it cost virtually nothing.  It was only a few days ago and hopefully we'll soon have a nice patch of green lawn - and then we need a lawn mower, but K has his eye on one he can 'pick up'. He is stil fixing washing machines on the side so there is a little extra and thank goodness we have Elli doing our tax return so we don't have to pay out any extra.  Doing work on the side is still an option but it is illegal - no tax on that money! - and he does have to be a little careful.  Tax evasion used to be a greek hobby....and look where it got them!  Tax evaders are getting prosecuted now but very very slowly.  Millions are owed by those in high places and millions are in overseas accounts. There is one scandal after another being revealed ...most of them concerning MPs.  The way they live and use our money is incredible.
The kids are surviving.  It is easier living here.  We have contacts and family and help each other.    Elli is working longer hours because it is tax-return time and Kyriakos also but summer is coming so it will be a little easier for him and for Yiannis who works on the yachts.  The island is still filling up with Athenians on good weekends and there are a few tourists around now.  There is still the Navy base with its conscripts 6 times a year and now they are talking about making half the area around the island into a huge fish cultivation area.  It won't be good for pollution, the beaches or the fishermen but might give a few more people jobs.
There are one and a half million refugees in and around Athens. The live in terrible conditions and there is a huge uproar about the crime and squalor of central Athens. The greek unemployment figures have gone up to over 16% and of course are rising all the time.
A day later.  Things look bleak but greeks always seems to pull through somehow.  The IMF and some of the european countries are ganging up on us and calling Greeks a lazy lot of loafers and the political leaders incompetent idiots....hmm. Greeks are extremely unpopular in Holland and Germany - we have been told we're broke and to get out of the EU - along with Ireland and Portugal. There was a meeting of all the Greek political leaders this afternoon but they couldn't agree on anything - typical.  There is pressure on from the IMF  who tell us that if all parties do not agree on the economic policies (ie pay cuts all round, taxes sky high and sell everything from the Post Office to the Acropolis) there will be no more hand outs.  So we are waiting - waiting in the squares, waiting , to see what the hell is going to happen next.
It was Greece's great delight a few weeks ago to wake up and find that Dominique Strauss Kahn the (now ex) head of the IMF had been arrested in New York on rape charges.  The jokes were out before the photos of him in handcuffs. 
The one and only bank on Galatas was robbed early one morning last month.  It is a very small branch...with security doors.  The robbers used hammers to break down the security doors while half of Galatas looked on.  Apparently they used their kalasnikovs to scare off the onlookers, broke in, took whatever they took and were out and off.  The police had a road block further down but the robbers took a short cut and got clean away.  Danae and Elli both heard the gunshots and it was buzz buzz buzz on Poros for 24 hours.  The next buzz was the Public Prosecuter coming in and taking one of the cashiers from the local council away to Athens in handcuffs!  She and a friend had taken 600,000 euros from the council account.  That investigation is still ongoing and we're all waiting to see who else is involved. 
Two days later - the grass that K sowed is starting to show.  There is a light green covering where once there was dirt.  The garden is full of small stones and it is not till you start raking and hoeing that they become obvious.  Georgie got a few euros for filling two buckets of stones and Jamie filled up another couple of buckets but the stones are very obviously still there.  We're hoping that they will co-exist with the grass. 
The tiled area where the garden swing is where we built the new sewage tank....last year.  It took a year to fill up and is now overflowing on to the road leading up to the english people's house next door.  So we didn't fix the sewage problem.  We'll have to keep on emptying the tank I guess until we eventually get hooked up to the local sewage pipe - in 20 years or so.  In the meantime the grass grows greener and taller over the sewage leak.  I told K we should have planted our tomatoes down there.
I got my 'motorbike'.  It is a small quad bike.  Four wheels...yeh!   I drove it up to the house and down again and love it.  But it does go very slowly up these hills.  It will take me another 10 minutes to get home, but who cares. No more parking problems in mid-summer, no more red hot cars and burning stearing wheel.  We can park the car under the olive tree, cover it up and leave it there till the visitors arrive.  And we got it at a very good price, through a friend of K's.  Not a cousin this time. 

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