Greece: the gift that keeps on giving

This was a leisurely day. We woke up late and puttered around, read our books, admired the olive farm. Dimitri has made some huge improvements to the house since the last time I was here: fresh paint all around, a stone wall and new gate outside, and air conditioning! That AC makes it much easier to sit inside and enjoy the views of the farm, even when the sunshine is threatening to provide us with a new hottest day of summer.

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We had a bit of a journey trying to find our beach of the day – we’d hoped to go to Skoutari, but it turns out that everyone in Greece goes to the beach on hot Sundays from 11:00-1:00. Our top priority were brollies (beach umbrellas) and beach chairs: brollies are a must because it’s so sunny and you do want shade now and again; beach chairs are a must because the sand is so hot and it’s nice to lie down. The Europeans – or at least the Greeks – seem to agree with these sentiments, because every taverna on the beach will set up brollies and chairs and then ask that you purchase beverages in exchange for your chair time. It makes for a bit of a crowd all in one place – not J or my usual scene – but we don’t seem to mind.

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Anyway, all of the brollies and chairs at Skoutari’s very small brolly section were taken, and we had to go over to Mavrouvoni instead Not that this was any great sacrifice – it’s an endlessly long beach, and we found brollies right on the edge of the sea of humanity, and we had a lovely time lounging and swimming.

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It was hard to say goodbye to the beach. This is our last day on the farm – we’ve decided to spend one day in Nafplio before we head to the airport on Tuesday. So everything is suddenly tinged with a bit of nostalgia and a lot of wishing that we didn’t have to leave.

Made a quick stop in Gythio for groceries — not a brilliant idea at 4:30, when most everything is closed (including supermarkets), but we made it work.  And we found a bakery that sold the bite-sized ice cream pops that we’ve come to love so much:

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Litsa, one of the village residents who used to live in Williamsburg, VA, stopped by the house at 5:00 to see our pictures from the Netherlands (she’s never been there).  While she was with us, she talked about the job situation for kids, discussed frustrations about the economy, and explained the Greek church system (they go to church for baptisms and each church’s saint’s name day, but that’s about it — and they don’t really know when the traveling parish priest is going to show up on any given week).

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Litsa’s visit began a rash of gift-giving. At 5:00, our suitcases felt manageable. Then we started seeing people: Kathy, the gardener; George, our neighbor, guide, and adopter; Nicoletta, our across-the-road. And when you see people the day before you leave the village, you receive gifts. Now, we are the proud owners of:

  • 3 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 2 red onions, 1 pepper, 1 bag of rusks, 1 canister of vegetable bullion, 1 can of olive oil (from Litsa)
  • 1 jar of oregano, 5 not-quite-ripe pears, 2 springs of thyme, 6 sprigs of fresh oregano, 1 bottle of olive oil folk remedy (from George)
  • 1 jar of olives – leaking juice and oil at the lid – and 1 bag of what we think is hand-ground pasta (from Nicoletta)
  • 5 walnuts in their shells (from Luis, a random guy at the taverna — they’re the only item not in the photos below)

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George also fed us the best grapes we’ve had here as we sat in his front yard. He then took us on a fruit tour, which included feeding us pears and a fig, as well as showing us new olive trees (both eating olives and olive oil olives) that he’s planted. The longer you’re here, the more wonderfully friendly the villagers become!  There’s a very deep small town intimacy here. And now J’s suitcase is going to be very heavy …

We went for a brief run, which gave us great views of, among other things, (1) the sun setting over Mt. Taygetos and (2) the Greek electrical system:

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Now we’re at the taverna owned by Litsa’s family, where they’ll be making us a Greek salad with the produce she brought us.  And we’ll continue to say goodbye to our friends in the village, including George:

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