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Friday, August 10, 2007

Greece in pictures, accompanied by words 

A few days in, and Syros is still paradise. Instead of getting all the cuisines of the world, you get one cuisine, and the world's best watermelon. Instead of a thousand options at night, you get maybe a dozen, but I personally recommend the one where you listen to the crickets and the goat-bells from your balcony, and those are the only two sounds you can hear. Then lie back on the balcony, and look up at the brightest, starriest sky you'll see this side of a very serious camping trip.
The road of harrowing near-death experiences is still harrowing, but I'm beginning to enjoy driving it. The Lovely One says it's so scary that if she had seen the road beforehand, she would have told her dad not to build the house where he did. The drive takes about fifteen minutes from our place to downtown Ermoupoli, by the way.
We have been to two beaches in three days. The swimming and sunning are first-rate. My obsessive desire for a bicycle is annoying my bride and baffling my uncle. I have found an ad for one candidate, a cheap-looking Puch 5-speed that, if inexpensive, will work. But cottered cranks! Possibly steel rims! And the only bike shop in town doesn't even have clipless pedals for sale (fortunately, I bought a set in Athens. Better would have been remembering to bring my own set, as I had planned...).
We went to the movies Wednesday night with our young cousin, Vasya. She is very fluent, speaking with only a slight accent (the phonemes in Greek and English seem to be so similar that there is little trouble in pronouncing the language, and that goes either way, for native English speakers trying to speak Greek, and vice versa) and few stumbles. It was an outdoor theatre, showing Ocean's 13, and I had the obligatory Canadian-goes-to-Europe, has-beer-in-an-unusual-location experience there. It helped the film along nicely.
This trip has filled me with two emotions: a deep desire, once again, to get my affairs in order so I can move here for a long-term stay, and a fair bit of shame that I spent so little time working on my Greek language skills before the trip. TLO worked very hard for several months before we left, and the effort has paid great dividends, to the point that I am completely dependent on her for negotiating ordinary transactions. It's not that most people here can't get by with a little English, and are generally fluent if they work in any remotely touristy enterprise, but having someone with native language skills helps so much that I simply rely on her in almost every case. My skills are at the point where I get excited when I read a kitchenware catalog and figure out that "anoxidoto" ("ανοξείδωτο") means "stainless." Which opens me, of course, to the question of why I am reading a kitchenware catalog, but let's leave that to the realm of the unexamined.
Best. Vacation. Ever.

glad to see you relaxed and happy :)
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