As the afternoon went on, the preparations by the community leaders transformed the village of Stavros into a party location. Flags flying, lights swaying, chairs, tables, church service chanting, traffic diverting around the back of Stavros, a narrow road, too small for passing traffic, still everything moved along smoothly and without incident, despite the fact there were no police or other officials determining behaviour, Ithacans, even without over-regulation, do not become chaotic. Ithaca cruises along in it's own speed and still one of the safest communities to live in.
Around 10pm, just as people were getting their places, sitting down to eat, the sky opened up and a sudden strong downpour, almost emptied the square as people ran for dry cover in the church or in their cars. It would have been a great shame to have all that work and organization add up to nothing, so to everyone's relief, the rain was a glitch and the rest of the night was dry and mild, and as if the rain gave an extra injection of enthusiasm/relief, the first night of Sortiros ended up being one of the best yet.
With the crisis, there weren't as many people at the panighiri as other years, but it didn't really matter, spirits and good cheer (KEFI) were high and the dance floor was never empty.
What's great about a panighiri? Well, there's alot, but one of the best things must be that 3, sometimes 4, generations celebrate together in a community environment that uplifts values and small pleasures, forgotten in the big cities.
Stavros was a few lights short this year, with the far end of the village noticeably darker with the closure of Yianni's Taverna, but Margarita Cafe, as at every Panighiri, gives you a place to catch your breath or speak with the people you haven't seen in a year.
If you missed it last night, you have one more opportunity to party with Ithaca tonight for the 2nd night of Sortiros in the village of Stavros under the watch of Stavros' iconic Sortiros church. Come dance to the music of Mnistires and don't forget about the food and drink. Despite the economic crisis, let's celebrate anyway, because the most important things, money still can't buy!