Monthly Archives: January 2016

ERMOU STREET

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Ermou Street, referred to simply as Ermou, is an important shopping district in Volos. It’s been pedestrianised and is largely free of cars, though it’s criss-crossed by streets running from the harbour on up towards the mountain. Vehicles travel along these streets but it should not be assumed that drivers will automatically stop at the zebra crossings. What typically happens is that one or two people wait as cars carry on through regardless, and when enough have formed an increasingly impatient cluster they surge across.

The shops along and around Ermou are brimful of goods, varied and interesting; coffee shops abound. This past Friday I settled myself with my purchases on a bench in front of the cathedral to wait for Ron and watch the world go by.

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This area is perhaps the heart of the city, almost always bustling unless the weather is particularly foul. It’s quite impossible to be bored if you’re at all inclined to people watching.

Harried housewives, courting couples, elegant shoppers and ladies-who-lunch, locals and tourists ambling along, the frazzled rushing to appointments, mothers with their children, friends and family meeting up, the ever-present students, vendors, musicians, street artists, panhandlers, demonstrators and protestors.

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Wait long enough and you’re almost certain to see a large slice of society. Observe a little closely and Volos will reveal herself in all her layers.

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This cheerful violinist, always smiling and often interrupting his playing to greet a friend for a brief chat, is pretty much a fixture at this spot. His choice of pieces is rather fixed also, comprising the schmaltzy mixed with the occasional polka, but he’s an entertainer after all, a busker performing to the tastes of his perceived audience.

A woman pushing a young boy stopped. “Listen to the lovely music,” she enthused to the kid. “When you’re older you’ll learn the violin, and then you’ll play just like this clever man.” The musician obligingly smiled and jiggled about while the kid stared impassively at him, showing no interest at all until the woman tossed a couple of coins into the violin case. Perhaps the child is destined for a career as a classical music critic, or maybe he’ll concern himself with matters financial.

The violin was emitting strains (in more ways than one) of Tschaikovsky when an advancing group to the right caught my eye – an orderly protest by staff of the state-run home for the aged.

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Greece is in a ferment over plans to cut pensions, representing yet another hardship in the lives of people already heavily burdened financially. The care workers grouped themselves a couple of yards from me, standing quietly as helpers handed out leaflets explaining the issue.

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Soon television crews from various stations arrived to record the event for the evening bulletins.

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The cameramen drew the attention of passersby, some of whom used their phones to take their own pictures, but mostly the demonstration attracted little interest, and people went on their way.

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Tschaikovsky was replaced by Strauss, but as the reporters began to assemble in front of the protestors, the violinist gave up the performance, leaning back to watch the proceedings.

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It wasn’t long before his hands needed something to do, and a cigarette was fished from his pocket.

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The journalists began their interviews of the staff, who calmly, quietly explained their position. I’m very much in sympathy with them, but it’s clear from the political rhetoric that the chances of success are slim indeed.

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Interviewing

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Rather a pragmatic soul is the violin player who noticed the crowds dwindling and decided to call it a day. Smiling all the while he packed up the violin and moved off, nodding pleasantly to me. Maybe I’ll chat to him next time I’m in Ermou.

GIFTS FROM ALBANIA

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Every so often a relative of Costa’s who runs a sort of taxi service drives down from Albania to the Pelion. His visa restrictions allow him multiple entry into Greece for a 3-month period, after which he must remain outside the country for 6 months before he may enter again. Costa’s family are generous indeed in their gifts to us, and send the most delicious produce from their land whenever Bleddie drives his people carrier down.

No pesticides are used. Ever. The women of the household work very, very hard to grow their food, to tend the animals, to prepare and preserve foodstuffs for the winter, all the while separated from Costa. Costa has toiled for a great many years here on the Pelion, away from his wife, his children, his grandchildren and the rest of his extended family for several months at a time.

All their products are delicious, but it’s the potatoes that I’m crazy about. We’ve never eaten any like them before; none we can buy here come close to them in taste or texture, and that’s saying something as fresh produce on the Pelion is abundant and excellent. Costa was fascinated the first time I prepared baked potato with bacon, cheese and all the trimmings. Absolutely scrumptious, and fit for the gods.

He’s tickled pink that Ron loves popcorn, and each care package contains enough to keep Ron happy until the next batch arrives.
“Does he like it?” Costa asks me repeatedly. “It pops well, doesn’t it? Is it good?”
Bless his heart, it is, and the generosity of it all touches us deeply.

Bleddie arrived on Monday. I’m sharing here with you just some of what he brought. And yes, we had baked potatoes with dinner on Monday, last night and will again today. Got to eat them fresh!

UPDATE TO THE QUIET DAY

To answer some questions I received via email:

The last we heard, our injured friend’s surgery went well, but the fractures are causing him considerable difficulty. The pain aside, he’s having trouble working – obviously a man with such injuries isn’t going to be in demand on a building site or in agricultural labours. He’s cheerful and remains positive. Fingers crossed for complete recovery.

As for my ‘phone – yes, I did get a new one. Finally. And no, I didn’t get a smart ‘phone. Are you kidding? I could barely handle my late lamented one. I still can’t operate its replacement properly, even though the 7-year old son of a friend went whizzing through the functions for me. I mainly use a cell ‘phone for texts.

So far, I’ve been unable to master texting on this model. It’s got to do with the way the list of names appear, so my first attempt had a somewhat unfortunate result.  A warmly supportive message I thought I was sending to a young friend here in Greece was received by a rather bewildered doctor friend in Austria. Don’t ask.

“LET’S JUST HAVE A QUIET DAY…”

January 6th is an important feast day in the calendar of the Greek Orthodox church. It’s a public holiday, a day when friends and families gather after the religious ceremonies to celebrate. Restaurants and tavernas bustle with cheerful patrons, kids dash about. It’s winter here, so there’s good excuse to warm up with a glass or two of tsipouro, that drink for which this area is renowned.  And yes, if occasionally some over-enthusiastic reveller should imbibe more than good manners call for, it’s all taken in stride. Greeks are open hearted, friendly people who enjoy a social occasion, though goodness knows they have little to celebrate these days.

The day dawned with some cloud and enough sun to show promise of reasonably good weather, instead of the dreary chill that’s typical here in January.
“Would you like to go out?” Ron asked. “Shall we go see the cross being thrown in Milina?”
I debated. It’s interesting to watch the wild leaps off the waterfront into the icy Pagasitic by those who, to me at least, have a death wish as they seek to retrieve the cross. The restaurants would be open – a chance to have a meal for they are typically closed in the depth of winter.
“Nah,” I replied after a bit of thought, “let’s just have a quiet day.”

Ron wandered off to chat to some fishermen down on the rocks.
“They’ve managed to catch an octopus,” he told me when he returned. “Not sure if they’ll have much more luck.”
I was at my computer, Raki on my lap, when the doorbell rang. We weren’t expecting anybody. Removing the protesting Raki, I went to answer it. A rather agitated man greeted me and explained that he had been fishing on the rocks. Thinking he wanted Ron, I invited him in.
“No, no,” he said, “it’s my brother. He’s hurt. I need to call a taxi.”
Confusion reigned for a few seconds, but I soon realized that his brother was seated on a low stone wall in the garden, surrounded by a pile of clothing and fishing gear. Calling out to Ron, I rushed over to investigate.

It appears that the injured man, the younger of the brothers, had fallen from a height onto the rocks, and that his brother had managed to carry him on his back up to the house. Quite a feat, let me tell you.

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The poor chap was in considerable pain, unable to walk, clutching his arm and apologising profusely for the trouble he was causing. Hardly. I fetched a blanket to cover him, though he kept maintaining he wasn’t cold, and a large cushion to rest his clearly broken arm upon.

After a rapid conversation we established that the injured man had driven his car to a village some distance away, and that they had then walked along the shoreline. They are Albanian, speak very good Greek and insisted in speaking only Greek to each other as “It’s very impolite to speak in a language you don’t understand, kyria (madam),” they declared. I was very touched.

The older brother can’t drive, it turned out, but he assured me that if I’d only call a taxi to take them to their car, he’d manage to drive to medical help.
“Not a chance,” we said. “you have no licence. Only imagine the police! And anyway, we’ll drive you to the Health Centre in Argalasti.”
Then it struck me.
“Are you here legally?” I asked in some trepidation, for if they weren’t, it would be unwise to take them to a hospital for fear of the medical staff being constrained to inform the authorities.
“Yes, yes,” they assured us, “we’re here 20 years and have all our papers.”
Phew. I’d already been running the names of doctors we know through my mind, planning to ask for help, knowing that the Hippocratic oath would be honoured and few questions asked.

I called our beloved Costa to inform him of the situation and see if he was nearby. He was and arrived at a run a few minutes later to engage in anxious conversation with the brothers. I insisted they speak Albanian while we debated our options. Older brother asked if we could give injured brother (I confess their names escaped me in the confusion) some water, but I explained I was reluctant to do so, or give an aspirin, lest surgery be required. At this point older brother delved into his bag and produced the unfortunate aforementioned octopus which he tried to press upon me.
“No, no! Thank you very much, but no!” I responded as politely as I could, though I confess I’d recoiled; Costa later told me that my face was a picture.

We prepared to drive to Argalasti. The back of the Suzuki was loaded up with their kit, Costa insisting on going along, and managing the operation like a field marshall, while I fetched my cell ‘phone and locked Raki in the house.  We got the patient into the car with some difficulty. He couldn’t walk, and was in severe pain, not to mention badly shocked.
“Don’t bother to get your ‘phone,” I told Ron, “we’re only going to the Health Centre so we don’t need two ‘phones.”

We made slow progress through the rough, muddy roads until we reached the tarred road, Ron driving as carefully as he could to avoid jolting the injured man. He, poor dear, was an interesting shade of green, clutching tightly on to the plastic bags I’d brought along in case of need. But he didn’t require them. Wedged tightly between his brother and the door with his eyes closed, he spoke only when I’d enquire how he was doing.

Costa kept up an excited stream of chatter in Albanian all the while, pausing briefly now and then to pass on some bit of info to me, in Greek.
“They’re from the north of Albania; they’re not from my region; they were young when they came to Greece; they have good jobs; they are married; they have children; they love fishing; he (the injured one) usually fishes alone; thank goodness his brother was with him today.” Yes, indeed.

We finally made it to the Health Centre in Argalasti, where I was relieved to notice an ambulance parked; often it happens that no ambulance is available. I knew that the injured man would need to go to the Volos hospital, as there’s no X-ray machine in Argalasti, which is not much more now in the present economic situation than a triage centre, a field hospital really. And jolly good it is too, with excellent staff exhibiting a degree of care and concern that cannot be faulted.

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I went in to explain, and immediately a young doctor came out with a wheelchair to take our patient into a treatment room. It wasn’t long before I was told that the ankle was broken, and possibly also the tibia, not to mention multiple fractures of the left arm (the miracle was that he didn’t land on his head) and yes, he needed to go to Volos. As well, Ron and I told each other, that the ambulance was there. Ah, yes, the ambulance…actually, we were informed, there was no driver available. Oh boy. We stood gazing at the fanciful representation of Chiron,  exceptional centaur and healer who lived on Mt Pelion, while we discussed the situation.

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“Look,” Ron said, “we hadn’t planned on going anywhere. I’ll pay for a taxi, and we can go home.”
Costa was rather disappointed that he wouldn’t be going to Volos; no point in a second taxi fare. Easier said than done though. Epiphany, remember? No taxi available. In the midst of the decision making, my cell phone rang.
“Where are you?” queried my friend Loula. “I keep calling the house and you don’t reply.”
“I’m at the Health Centre,” I responded just as the ‘phone let out an ear splitting sound, and went dead. I mean dead. Not run-out-of battery dead, but dead. Finished. No more. Kaput. Completely, and for ever. Dang!

“OK, we’ll take him into Volos,” Ron told the assembly and went off to bring the car round to the entrance. We all piled back in; reality struck. Ordinarily a trip to Volos would entail some shopping. Not today. Nothing open but eating places. Sure, we could take our new friends to the hospital, and the three of us could have a meal. With me dressed as I was? Fat chance! I’d left the house in ancient baggy pants, T-shirt and distressed sweater, odd socks on feet thrust into elderly clogs – I resembled a survivor of a shipwreck.

“Give me your ‘phone, “ I said to Ron as we drove along, our patient fortunately dozing as a result of the painkiller injections he’d received.
“I’d better call Loula and explain. She’ll be very alarmed that we were at the Health Centre.”
“I didn’t bring it.” he replied, “Remember?”
“Here,” offered Costa, “use mine.”
I took it, and called Loula at home. No reply. Then I remembered she’d be out. I also realised I simply couldn’t remember her mobile number, and that the number was on my defunct ‘phone. Oy vey.

The trip to Volos hospital took some 40 mins; happy crowds milled about in the coastal eateries, and around the hospital. We pulled up to the emergency entrance

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where Ron dropped our little group while he drove off to find a parking place. We walked in to the crowded emergency area where the patient was immediately taken through for treatment, Costa accompanying him. I remained while his brother gave the necessary details to the receptionist. It took no time at all before he and I could join the others. Our patient had already been whisked off to X-ray. There was nothing more for Costa and me to do but exchange telephone numbers with big brother, and insist that no, I wasn’t going to take the money he offered for petrol, and nor was Costa going to accept any for the time he’d lost from his day labour.

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It was mid-afternoon before we finally got back home. What a relief to rustle up a sandwich and make a strong cup of tea after a day of broken bones, broken ‘phones. Big brother called later to bring us up to date. Little brother had been admitted to the hospital, with multiple fractures confirmed and surgery scheduled for the next morning.

Oh, I almost forgot: It was my birthday.

 

LIFE, WITH ORANGES

Volos is an attractive little city with a long history stretching back deep into antiquity, and although large parts of the old town were destroyed by the devastating earthquakes of 1954 and 1955, some older buildings still remain. Orange trees line many of the streets, and at this time of year their plentiful fruit provides a cheerful blaze of colour. I’m told the oranges aren’t sweet, being of a variety best used for marmalade, which probably explains why they don’t seem to get picked by passersby. Good – I like seeing them.

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Many years ago, when I was still in primary school, we had a calendar which featured Moncreid’s “Still Life with Oranges.” I loved that picture – I could almost taste the succulent oranges. The green jug was similar to one we had, we too had bone-handled knives, but the kilim on which they rested fascinated me. It spoke to me of far-off lands, of fairy tales and exotic peoples, of different ways of life. I was enthralled.

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Still Life with Oranges

Oranges, lemons, mandarins and other varieties of citrus fruit abound now. Buy them in the street markets, choose at the supermarket, get them from greengrocers, or stop to shop from a tiny roadside stall.
“Are they sweet?” you ask as you climb out of the car.
“Absolutely! Here, taste.”
The seller will whip out a knife and peel the succulent fruit in a second.
“No, no, that’s OK, ” I usually say, “I believe you.”
A bag or two is filled, a euro or two is handed over, a word or two about the weather is exchanged. Everybody’s happy.

The tables in the fruit and vegetable markets would complain, if they could, about the huge heaps of citrus stacked upon them. Oranges, oranges and still more oranges. Even though the produce market is packed with fruit and vegetables, with fresh fish and cured meats, with olives, cheeses, herbs and flavoured olive oils, preserves and sweetmeats, breads and baked goods that would surely tempt the gods, it’s the oranges that are the most distinctive. You can’t miss them.

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The fruit and veggie market is always lively, a meeting as well as a marketing place, with buyers and sellers alike chattering and yelling. The news of the day is announced and pronounced upon, gossip’s passed back and forth, babies and children are fussed over, and all the while supplies are bargained for. Produce inspected, weighed and the sale concluded, the goods are tucked into bags and baskets as the shopper continues on their way. No need to hurry. Lots to see. Much to talk about.

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If it’s in season, you’ll find it here.

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Well…it is an open-air market

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Standing guard

 

HATS! CHAIRS! TABLES!

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The south wind, that most unwelcome bearer of Sahara dust, has been blowing wildly most of the week, yielding occasionally to the rages of the competitive west wind. So choking has the dust been that the elderly and those suffering from breathing complaints have been strongly advised to remain indoors.

Newspapers the world over run banner headlines to the effect that the weather is nuts, has gone mad, is weird, strange, odd, ominous. To hear some tell it, the end of the world is upon us. So must the Ancients have believed when Aeolus, heeding the command of the gods, opened his bag of tricks and let loose the four winds.

Who has angered the gods this time? No idea, but someone up there on Mt. Olympus was certainly livid enough earlier this week to demand that Aeolus really let rip. Unpleasant as the south wind is, it’s no match for the west wind in full throttle. All through the long Monday night it ranted and roared, pounded the coast, sent shutters shuddering, surely terrorized many creatures, and kept us awake. Nor was Aeolus instructed to bag his west wind again come morning, with the result that it grumbled along, squabbling with the south wind until late yesterday.

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Wind is hardly uncommon here on the Pelion Peninsula where the many islands and inlets of the Pagasitic Gulf, together with the hilly and mountainous terrain, interact to influence the weather patterns. The Pag is beloved by sailors, its merry breezes with their sudden shifts in intensity and direction providing challenges to amateur and pro alike.

The locals have a delightful vocabulary of expressions to describe the effects of what Aeolus is offering: kapelato, kareklato, trapezato being among my favourites. Kapelo is a hat, karekla is a chair, trapezi a table. Well, what he unleashed on Monday night had no difficulty lifting tables, none at all, as was soon obvious to us in the morning when we set off for Volos. We took the coastal road which is practically deserted at this time of year and shortens the trip by a good 15 minutes. West wind’s temper tantrum had littered the beaches with debris. Branches, rocks, stones are objects of nature,

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but the heaps of plastic and other examples of man-made items hurled up by the sea are an eyesore, though in fairness some had clearly been dislodged by force of wind and wave.

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Parts of the road had sheared off in the violence, making the narrow road more challenging still,

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but what brought us to a complete standstill was the large tamarisk tree, torn from its position between the beach and the road, blocking any further passage.

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Hubby was unfazed, stopping the car to get out and survey the situation.
I carried on knitting.

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“We left with plenty of time to spare,” he reassured me as he returned to the car.  “I’ve a handsaw in the back – soon take care of this.”

I continued knitting; he appeared to be rummaging about longer than I’d expected.

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“Rats!” he announced (or something similar). “I must’ve forgotten to get it back when I lent it to Costa.”

Well, that put a spanner rather than a saw into the works. I abandoned the knitting in favour of documenting the incident for posterity.

Ron moved on to plan B.
“I’ll use the tow rope to pull it out of the way,” he said, uncoiling it from the collection of hydraulic jacks, oil, jumper cables, tire pump, and sundry other items apparently essential to our survival when traversing the Balkans. (I might mention here that my emergency supplies typically run to plenty of knitting and chocolate.)
“It won’t take long.”

He worked at securing the cable to the tamarisk and then to the car’s bumper, yelling at me to get well out of the way as he climbed back in to start the car.

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Waves crashed, spray spat, tires screeched, stones crunched but the tree budged nary an inch. Again he tried. Again the collection of sounds filled the air. Again the tree resisted.

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Ron climbed back out to retrieve the cable, I climbed back in. There was no option but to retrace our journey and take the upper road. Now considerably delayed we were grateful for the cell ‘phone though it was some time before we could get a signal and let it be known we were running late.

We stopped at the first inhabited property to advise of the obstruction which would need a chainsaw to clear away completely.

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Missions in Volos accomplished – which included hubby purchasing a handsaw – we returned via the coastal road. The tamarisk had meanwhile been chopped up and stacked at the side of the road by some public-spirited soul; Ron had missed his chance.

“TO MARKET! TO MARKET! TO BUY…?”

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Street markets are a common sight throughout Europe. Many towns and cities grew from ancient beginnings at crossroads where merchants from exotic parts set up bazaars to buy, to sell, to swap news, to plot, to scheme. In short, to engage in all the activities man is capable of.

Several of these markets are historically significant, well documented in book and film, essential destinations for tourist and trader alike. There is much to explore, both in open air and covered street markets, while the careful observer will note that little has changed with respect to human behaviour. Sadly now in certain countries local markets are fast becoming targets for those whose twisted minds seek to sow horror and carnage.

As one travels further and further east across the Balkans, away from the sophisticated culture of urban areas and deeper into the simpler life of isolated rustic communities, the street market has much more in common with its ancient counterpart. The exchange of goods, especially fresh produce, is vital to the well-being of the community. It is not unusual, even today, to encounter people clad almost entirely in handmade garments, people who have never gone beyond their village of birth.

On to the fun! Friends have been regaling me with stories of their fantastic buys in recent months, and as it’s been some time since we visited a Volos street market, we decided to do so this past Friday. Small neighbourhood markets take place on most days, typically offering fish and fresh produce, while the Wednesday and Friday markets are the largest with regard to clothing and household goods.

They can be huge, occupying several blocks, so these markets are required to rotate their locations in order not to inconvenience residents and shopkeepers on a regular basis. There’s a roster determined by the municipality, but because the clothing markets are situated in an area of upper Volos, away from the town centre, it’s not strictly necessary to know exactly where they will be held – it soon becomes obvious as you drive along where the hustle and bustle is.

It’s also apparent that parking is a problem: the streets are narrow, the vehicles numerous, the obstacles many, the crowds large. Nothing for it but to get stuck in. Literally. You can see why we don’t often go. Hubby dropped me at an intersection and went off to sandwich the car somewhere; thank goodness for cell ‘phones which make it possible to locate each other in the throng.

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We often joke that you can clothe yourself from head to foot as you meander through the stalls, such is the variety of goods on sale, from shoes and socks, underpants and some rather improbable-looking bras, to sweaters, coats and headgear. You can eat too, if street food’s your thing – souvlaki, sausages, grilled corn on the cob, the ubiquitous sesame bread twists. The smells are tempting but I confess to a certain reluctance to sample them.

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You can take care of personal grooming; you can accessorize; you can clean, carpet, curtain and cushion your home; dress up your dining room; brighten your bedroom, and toss a few new tschotsches about while you’re at it. Depending on your taste of course.

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While you may occasionally see a soul selling some interesting item from the ancestral home, the bulk of the goods consists of cheap imports though lately it’s clear that stock has been obtained from defunct business enterprises. This is where the bargains are to be found, good quality clothing in particular – if you’re prepared to rummage through the piles stacked on the trestle tables. Designer pieces turn up – sometimes with the labels removed which I’m told is the practice when prestigious names clear their overstocks – to the delight of the savvy buyer.

Most of the vendors are Roma people, often referred to as gypsies – an offensive term. The Roma in Greece are settled in tightly knit communities, are citizens, and aren’t as a rule itinerant. Their native language remains intact, and certainly here in Greece the Roma are fully bilingual. (It’s worth noting that the Roma I recently encountered in Bulgaria speak a different Roma dialect, as well as Bulgarian.) 

The Roma and their history have been of interest to me since childhood, but I’m not going to elaborate on their culture now – I’ll drone on about it another time.

What all the vendors do have in common is their patter, pitched at ear-splitting volume. Roma women often sit atop the tables stacked with their wares, tossing garments at would-be shoppers:

” Come on, my love!” they bawl.

“Look at this beauty! Where will you find such a bargain! Don’t think for one moment you would pay this pitiful amount in the snooty store!”

Their helpers dart about, taking the money, retrieving the goods, cajoling the doubtful into a purchase.

“Girls! Girls! Would I lie to you? Would I? You think I’m selling things? Am I selling things? I’m not selling things, girls, I’m not selling! I’m giving it away!”

All good fun. I’ve never encountered rudeness, I must say, and find it absolutely fascinating, though I’m not made of stuff stern enough to spend a lot of time in the raucous atmosphere.

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Market’s end

 

LOOKING OUT, LOOKING IN

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You’ll have gathered by now that I’m fascinated by architectural details. Our modern buildings – so many of them concrete and steel – do not generally feature the kind of decoration possible on a much smaller scale. That’s not to say that contemporary structures aren’t frequently stunning, combining form and function to spectacular effect. Think the Sydney Opera House, the Louvre extension, the Shard…the list is long and the debate endless, and in my experience greatly enhanced by a glass or two of vino.

But I digress. I want to share more of downtown Plovdiv’s many charming windows. How fortunate that we visited during winter, when the numerous large trees that provide welcome summer shade had tossed away their leaves, allowing one to see most of the windows clearly.

They’ve really captured my imagination. Who was looking out? And when? Who was looking in? And why? Bulgaria’s history is tumultuous. Like that of all the Balkans, peaceful periods, often accompanied by relative prosperity, were frequently fractured by uprisings, war, occupying forces. Dissent, distress and despair were looked upon by these windows, but they also provided a view of happier times, of freedom from fear, of rejoicing and dancing in the streets. Those looking out surely waved to those looking in, and when occasionally I caught the eye of someone at their window, we both waved, and we both smiled. Maybe they wondered about me.

Who were the craftsmen who created these details? Such skilled artisans must have been in demand. Were they resident in the area, or did they travel from workplace to workplace? Were they given free rein to embellish the structure as they wished, or did the homeowner have specific requirements? Was the work a source of pride and satisfaction to the craftsman, or was it regarded as merely a means to provide an income?

Enough of pondering. Many of these buildings are destined for demolition, that different kind of destruction inevitable in areas subject to renewal. Bulgaria’s moving ahead, but is somebody looking back and documenting these little gems?

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WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES

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The weather worm has turned, and the snow I commented on in the previous post arrived overnight on Wednesday. But it did so very quietly. Sneaked up. We were forewarned of the impending change, but it came without fanfare. No whipping wind. No roars of rage. Nary a rattle. Odd, as it typically comes smashing in as though to remind us how helpless we are, and how beholden to its whims.

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I wonder what’s going on up there on big O-mountain? Zeus and Hera have barely whispered to each other for several weeks, so is this snowfall a sign that they’re gathering up their strength for a monumental row and aggressive show of Zeus’s force yet to come?

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It’s only just begun

The birds were rather taken aback, for as fast as I put out seed, so did the snow blot it out.

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What’s going on?

Agitated tweets trilled from the shelter of the bougainvillea which shook and shimmied with all the activity, while I made several careful excursions across the icy terrace to replenish the buried seed. Pretty much in vain for it was almost immediately covered up again

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Here comes my pal. The food’s under there…somewhere.

The birds persevered, and so did I, but Thursday was not a day of happy feasting for them, and only by noon Friday did the feeding situation improve. Night falls quickly at this time, so there wasn’t much chance to eat their fill.

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Saturday, and all is well!