February 2012 >> Page 1 2
February Sunday 12th - While this (mostly) beautiful country seems to be coming apart at the seams, everyone worries how they will be able to make a living and pay their bills. When you see the amount of businesses that have closed down in Athens and Patras, it becomes more and more worrying for us all. This economic crisis (although our debt is almost insignificant compared to the debts of other countries) has given the world reason to shut Greece down, at least in all the ways that we have come to know it. Politicians spout the word patriotism every day now so that everyone will jump in line to do it the Troika way. Whether that's good or bad will no doubt be determined in our future. It is sad however that our democracy has almost completely frayed and that our futures are being determined by the number crunchers, who I would hazard a guess, don't have a problem paying their electricity bill and sending their kids to school. Tonight the Parliament (made up of various parties) votes on the new measures, members being told that whoever does not vote for them, will need to resign. With predictions of complete and utter chaos being thrown around if Greece does not accept the measures, I'm pretty sure that the majority will vote 'yes', and with all major parties needing to sign that they will uphold these measures after the coming elections, there seems little point in having elections. Chaos may still be in our future if the people decide not to vote for any of the major parties and instead vote for independents or the communist party, who are not bound by the Troika agreement. One mans chaos is another mans playground. We're living interesting times.
Above Left - Stavros with Exoghi behind completely covered by low cloud yesterday, when it rained all day. Today, there are some interrupted periods of sunshine and as you can see Below Left - the rain seems to have stopped today.
Next week I'll also try to head down to Vathy to take some pics of Forkinas Theatre Group which is currently in rehearsal for this years play. More details to come soon.
Wednesday 15th - No photos today folks. We are having so much rain and so many storms, I'm keeping my camera out of the wet. Tomorrow is Burnt Thursday, hopefully it will be dry enough for the bbqing that will be going on around the island. Kathara Deftera on Monday and not to forget, Carnival is also coming up.
Friday 17th - Ok, so we're not living in a democracy anymore, but it's not a dictatorship run by a fascist, so what is it? What do you call it when every party has to vote on the same policies, not just now, but in the future as well? Why would anyone hope to stop the black economy by decreasing opportunity so that ordinary people are forced to be illegal just to pay for their food? I've heard of people who no longer do their books, and they are for the changes that should be happening in Greece. Law abiding people that are forced into the black hole of illegality, mostly minor, but illegality nonetheless. Greece has no exports to speak of, what we DO have is tourism, shouldn't there be some effort made to get that industry strong and moving forward, instead of paralyzing it with outdated laws, restrictive taxes and inhibitive policies that do nothing more than frustrate those inside this industry, and make them move away. Greece has a small population, we just can't be taxed enough to pay back all the debts, we, our children, our grandchildren and their grandchildren will be paying off this debt if it only comes off the taxes. Isn't there anyone thinking outside the box? A little lateral thinking could see this country prosper instead of squeezing the life out of it. People on Ithaki are generally worried for their futures. This island only has a small part in tourism, but it's the bread and butter for those who live and work here. I know that Greece and it's people are being portrayed in such a bad light, but the media loves to generalize. I hope for all our sakes and the sake of Ithaca continuing to prosper, that people will start to book their holidays to the island without fear of getting ripped off, or violence in the streets. We're very well behaved here. We quietly scream into our pillows 'We've had enough and we're just not going to take it anymore', then pay our taxes, take a breath and smile to let the sunshine in. Today, we actually have sunshine. It's very cold, but the skies are blue. Above Left - Yesterday. Left - Today. Now that it's stopped raining and the forecast is for brighter days through the weekend, I'll get out with my camera again to take some more pics.
Come everyone. Support Ithaca through the crisis by having your holiday here on the island.
Sunday 19th - Seems we could be over the worst of winter, or at least let's hope so. Would be nice to enjoy some fine weather again at least for next weekends Carnival and Kathara Deftera.
Above Left and Below Left - Frikes bayside has taken quite a battering with the wild weather this year. Alot to clean up and fix before the season starts.
It's still quite chilly as you can see with the snow on Mainland mountain tops. Left - Lahos. Above and Below - Frikes
Above & Below - Lefki. Left - Stavros. Dimitri and son from Laertes Farm Fruit and Vegie market open up the shop for the evening trade.
Above Left - Minoan Ferry on it's way to Patras from Italy. Left - road between Frikes and Raxi. Below - Stavros.
The most bizarre thing happened to us today. I was heading out to take some pics when we noticed the hazard lights on the car were blinking before we'd even unlocked it. No matter what we did, they just wouldn't turn off, finally we disconnected the battery. That worked for the hazard lights, but the instrument panel was dead. I'm a big believer in when something stops working, vacuum it, tap it, run it etc. We ran the car for awhile and after about 20 minutes everything worked again. Appears that it rained so much that the damp made everything work in very peculiar ways. Gremlins.
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Monday 20th - The coming Sunday it's Carnival time on Ithaca. The BIG carnival is of course in Vathy. Weather permitting, it should be a great day for all.
There will be lots of parties going on during this week. One is at the Mylos Creperie in Vathy on Thursday night (Pink Building Left) held by Niko and Viki (Below), who are due to be first time parents in about 1 months time.
Left - Tzaneto from Odysseas Restaurant in Vathy has lots to keep him busy in the winter, but when summer comes, he'll be inviting you in to enjoy some local cooking at his bayside restaurant.
There is much that is up in the air at present, but one thing has been finalized, Ithaki will not be getting its usual tax break for the disadvantage of being an island with a small population. We come under the same tax laws as cities which have work and opportunities all year around, and no disadvantages, such as paying around 200 euro just to get off and get back on the island. Earning over 5000 euro will be taxed. I wonder whether we'll get the benefit everyone else in the modern tax paying world has of legal deductions. Something we haven't really benefited from. Apparently, we don't even have a date for when we can start lodging our tax forms. Guess it will be 'last minute' like everything else.
Wednesday 22nd - More miserable weather today. We haven't had such a wet winter in a really, really long time. I'm sure there are people going stir crazy right about now. Just when you think the worst is over, it starts again. Feels a bit chillier too than it did over the past couple of days. Left - Lefki. Below Left & Below - Aetos Bay.
Left - Vathy Square. You can't expect too much going on with weather such as todays. There is nothing to sing about.
Now that the money is in the bag, it's just a matter of passing through laws that will completely secure it. What I can't believe is that the minimum wage now pays 15 euro per day. That's not enough to pay for your electricity bill (which has increased quite dramatically over the past year). The people who will benefit, will be of course be those who aren't so effected by the crisis to begin with, and that's big business who will now be able to legally exploit workers for a higher profit margin. The wages are less, but I haven't seen any decreases in services, food and other necessities. Competition is supposed to be the backbone of capitalism, but when a big majority of our capitalist society is not just dealt bad cards, but no cards, then capitalism turns into something completely different. I really, truly hope that someone has an ace up their sleeves and this will all pan out for the population of Greece, not just for the multinational companies who are doing very well, thank you very much. I'm sounding a little left (alot left maybe), but I am really for changes in Greece, but as far as I can tell, those in the government parties who put us in this position, are still there making decisions that effect us all. I don't trust them to do the right thing, I do trust them to do what benefits them, as they have done for decades. To see real changes, I believe those who messed it up should have no place in governing us through this crisis. I also believe there isn't a single person in this country that has ever been completely legal. The system was set up at the top to accommodate the black economy, it just so happened that the doors they left open to do this, allowed everyone to go through. Changing the psyche of a country doesn't happen overnight, nor does it happen with a nice big loan. The loan has to be repaid, and with no exports and the high percentage of unemployment and self-employed going down the gurgler, there is really only exploitation of various kinds that will avail the funds to repay the piper. I'm no expert on economics, but I am an expert on trying to make a living and pay my bills, I just hope that in order to be able to do this, the things that really need fixing get fixed (even if it means we pay a little more tax) and I'm not forced to go back to Australia in order to have the privilege to turn on a heater when it gets cold. I just want everything to work like it's supposed to for everyone, not just some. Living on Ithaca has many financial challenges, usually they are overlooked because it's just such a wonderful place to live, but so many people have already left the island and are continuing to leave the island, something has to be done to keep island life viable. Ithaca isn't the only island effected like this. When I first came here in 1983, I saw what Ithaca looked like when people had no hope of work or a future. The place was empty and living here was a very big challenge. The island had almost no young people, even in Summer. It looked like a dying community. If something isn't done to keep this island productive and growing, it can very easily return to that state again. People choose to live in a place because they see a hope for their future, and it's not just a financial future, but it is an elementary factor. The only thing we have on the island really, is tourism. It's not a big industry here like other more well known islands, but it is our bread and butter. I haven't seen any laws anywhere that will help in keeping this island alive, on the contrary, it's going to be so much harder. Ithaca has so many positive factors. It's safe for children and adults alike. We have little to no crime, fresh air, beautiful vistas, friendly community and much more, so despite our general frustrations, this is where we try to focus our thoughts.
Changing the subject. Does this Carnival statue Above Left, remind you of anyone? Below Left - Aetos Pay churning up under the swell of the sea, as is Frikes Bay Below Below Left. Frikes has really suffered over this winter. The jetties are just firewood now.
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Saturday 25th - As we edge toward March, Spring is becoming more and more prominent and palpable each day as we tick off February. We've had so much rain, and by the forecast there is still more to come, that days out have been rare. This weekend however, weather allowing, the community will get together for the Vathy Carnival and for Kathara Deftera. Traditionally, everyone headed up to Anoghi, but this year, as last, Kioni will also be holding it's own celebration of the day at the old Primary School. Left and Below - Signs of Spring. Little white daisies are also beginning to blanket the fields. Soon it will be a colourful and blossoming island we'll have at our feet.
Today Sunday 26th February was Carnival Day in Vathy Ithaca. Click Here or on pic Left for 4 pages of photographs. It was a BIG day and alot of fun.
Monday 27th - What a miserable day today. Not only did it rain, storm and blow a strong wind, but the temperatures also dropped about 10 - 12 degrees. At 8pm it was a chilly 5C. Unfortunately due to the weather, I didn't get out for Kathara Deftera. The first time in years. Anoghi and Kioni would have taken it inside for today, but it would have been such a crush that I didn't attempt it. Tonight is the annual dance in Perahori. It's usually a very good time. You can see pics from last year through Winter 2010-2011 Specials.
Left - Minimata watching the bad weather roll in over the headland yesterday. Below - Vathy looking up toward Perahori.
February 2012 >> Page 1 2