Y'know, generally I try to keep politics off the blog. What I like to focus on are the positive things in daily life about Greece and of course Rhodes in particular. But I have to confess to being more a than a little fed up with what I keep hearing coming through the media in the UK, if not elsewhere on the planet too, about this beautiful country.
First and foremost, I can cite a "good" example of the bad impression, the wholly inaccurate impression, that the public abroad is being given about what's going on here. Bear with me, it's coming below.
Yesterday (Sunday) I did my usual Bay-to-Bay excursion. it's a really wonderful day trip that leaves all the guests feeling well and truly chilled out. We cruise along the impossibly beautiful east coast of the island from St. Paul's Bay in Lindos to as far north as Tsambika beach, where we do our first "swim-stop", then make our way back to Stegna, where we go ashore for a scrumptious lunch in Grigori's restaurant, plus we give the guests plenty of time to laze about in one of the beachfront cafés in the resort or perhaps on the quite beautiful beach that Stegna can boast of, before returning to the boat (The Mandalena) for the next leg of the cruise. We stop mid-afternoon for another swim from the boat at the picturesque golden sandy beach of Agathi, in the shadow of historic Feraklos Castle (see this post too), before once again cruising at a leisurely pace all the way back to Lindos for a 4.30pm arrival and the transfer of the guests back to their accommodation.
I had guests yesterday from four different countries. There was a handful of Russians, a couple of dozen Poles and a dozen or so Germans. We also had nine from the UK, including one couple that I was delighted to see again, because they'd done the same excursion with me last summer too. The whole bunch of 50 or so grown-ups and children gelled together seamlessly and everyone had a thoroughly good time. Chatting with one of the British couples, we got around to the subject of how the British public perceives what's happening here in Greece.
"When I told my mother we were coming to Greece again she was mortified," said my female guest. "She said, 'please don't go to Greece - you'll get mugged.'"
Fortunately, my guest had the good sense and indeed the knowledge to reply to her concerned parent, "Mum, if you think that, then you don't know the Greek people." Of course, they stuck to their guns and they came. They're having a wonderful holiday. Now. Here. On Rhodes. Shock horror.
This is what you would have seen on the trip yesterday for example (tongue firmly in cheek for the captions by the way)...
|The beach at Stegna, Sunday July 5th 2015. So unsafe for tourists, eh?|
|This is Andonis, son of Kosmas, who runs the boat the "Mandelena", jumping overboard out of sheer fear...|
|That's our boat, and this is again Stegna Beach. Look at all the muggers, I was literally trembling with apprehension.|
|One of my young German guests at the bow, expecting a Greek to assault him at any moment for simply being German.|
You know what I think? I think that the BBC (for example) has a reporter in a hotel in Athens. That reporter goes out into the street and looks for some graffiti on a roller shutter and then tells the camera how society here is falling apart. When, though did you last see one of those reports coming from one of the islands? Hmm? And how much graffiti and low-life can be found in every city around the world?
Here on Rhodes (and it's pretty typical of the islands in general) daily life goes on. People sit in cafés with their frappés, you can buy water melons or freshly picked cherries or nectarines from roadside vendors, you can draw as much cash as your own bank in your country permits as a daily withdrawal limit from the local ATM, several new ones having recently been installed at key positions for the convenience of tourists here in the south of the island. Waiters stand at the entrance to tavernas trying to tempt passers-by to sample their delicious local cuisine, tourists amble the streets of Lindos feeling the cheesecloth shirts and fiddling with the trinkets festooning the souvenir shops, Greek Bouzouki music wafts across your ears as you order your Retsina and Greek salad, old ladies are hanging out their washing and cats are stretching lazily on shady windowsills and door steps.
And over all this hangs the pallour of fear and menace, right? WRONG.
I want to do something here that I've never done before on this blog. I'd like to ask you the reader to do your best to contact the media in your country and tell them that they're getting it wrong. Just because Greece has a major financial crisis to contend with does not mean, does NOT mean that people coming here for a vacation need overly concern themselves. You know the best way to help Greece climb out of the pit she's in?
Come here for your holiday. Dead simple. See for yourself.
Those who have not allowed themselves to be put off by the hype that's pumped out through the foreign media can all testify to the fact that here in Greece, particularly on the islands, the holidaymaker would be forgiven for not even realising that there IS a crisis.
Next month my wife and I will have lived here on Rhodes for ten years. I am sometimes asked, "Would you leave, maybe go back to the UK?" Our answer, which is echoed by thousands of ex-pats all across Greece, is a resounding "you must be joking."