Monday, 16 November 2015

This, That and the Other


A few days ago we walked to Glystra Beach. It's becoming a bit of a tradition now. As soon as the temperatures drop to the level where one can go walking without seriously risking dehydration and seeing mirages, we trek the 50 minutes or so along the coast to have a swim where the waters are shallow and warm, owing to the fact that the bottom is sandy (you can get ointment for it these days) and thus reflects the sunlight and keeps the sea temperature there just a tad warmer than it is at our regular beach.

This time I remembered the trusty digital camera and thus the following shots...

En route along the beach road in Kiotari

I love approaching the beach along this route. Inviting eh?

I was not well pleased to find all these people on the beach, I can tell you.

Of course, this has so far proved to be one of the driest Autumns in the ten years since we came out here. Today marks three weeks since we last had any rain (in fact, even much cloud to speak of) and the locals are wringing their hands over the fact that it will probably affect the olive harvest. Autumn rains are what normally cause the olives to swell in the final two months or so before the harvest begins. This year, however, apart from two storms, both of which struck in September and then mid October, there's been nothing. Zilch.

As usual, of course, ex-pats everywhere are delighted. I know it sounds somewhat elitist, but I can't get my head around this. I mean, we all want water to come out of the tap when we turn it on. If we don't get the necessary winter rains, then the island's water supply will be threatened, no doubt about it. There is constant new development across the island for tourism too, which involves huge new swimming pools being constructed, all of which exert a tremendous draw on the water reserves come the spring, in the run-up to the season beginning. 

Not only that, you can water your garden as much as you like, but real rain does something for plants that tap water can never do, right? OK, yes, so the weeds like it too, but that's what we gardeners are for isn't it? To weed and weed and then weed some more yea?

I've mentioned somewhere before, either on this blog or in one of the "Ramblings" series of books (it all becomes a blur) about how the Greeks are so specific about when they're going to do something on their horticultural calendar. A couple of weeks back we asked Panayioti (a neighbour from over the hill and up the valley a bit) if he'd started his olive harvest yet. Know what he said in reply? 

"Nah, November 10th."

He didn't say, "about the middle of the month" or perhaps "the week after next", nope. November 10th he said. Interestingly, on Facebook last Thursday (the 12th), a local Greek Facebook page announced that the olive mills in Arhangeglos had opened for business that very day, owing to the fact that people would have begun their harvesting on the 10th and those with a modest number of trees would be starting to turn up by then. This, of course, notwithstanding the fact that the lack of rain has tended to make many hold off for a while longer yet, in the hope of some precipitation before too much longer.

Anyway, returning to our Glystra beach walk. A beach that has three rows of sunbeds and umbrellas, plus a Kantina right up until the last weekend of October is rather exciting to visit just 10 days or so later, because then it looks like this...

Can you spot the "stone seal" basking here?

Yours truly swimming back to the beach after striking a pose on that rock (under instruction from the better half). If you're really sure about this, you can see that shot here.


I've taken on a local charitable project, after a casual conversation with some other ex-pats a couple of weeks ago at the Gré Café down the road. A recent fund-raising event netted over €1000 for the health centres at Lindos and Arhangelos and the suggestion was made that the one down the road from us in Gennadi could also do with a demonstration of local support. Here on Rhodes, as seems to be the case all across Greece, there are loads of people working for the welfare of cats and dogs and, whilst in principle I don't have any argument with such efforts, it does occur to me that sometimes we humans (especially us British) can get our priorities a little skew-wiff (Now there's an expression that erupted out of my west country past!).

A thousand Euros can purchase a very respectable amount of medical supplies, stuff like bandages, hypodermics, dressings, sutures and all kinds of stuff that would last them a while. I've no idea what our event "Help for Health Gennadi" will raise, but whatever we garner together it'll be more than they had at their disposal beforehand. If you're on Facebook, please have a look at the page I've started by clicking here.

It seems that folk from quite far afield prefer to come to Gennadi when they need to see a doctor, plus there are those living in some villages up in the hills that would have significantly longer journeys to make in an emergency if this health centre were to close down. At present some of the staff at the Gennadi centre are working for nothing and their dedication (which applies to all the staff who work there) is well known and respected. 

Thus was born this project, which basically involves a coffee and cake morning, incorporating a bric-a-brac bring-and-buy sale, from which 100% of the cash raised will be given to the centre. All across Greece local centres such as this one are struggling with basic supplies and thus it seems to me that people like us can make a small difference. Let's face it, there are more charitable causes than there are days in a decade, but the old saying "charity begins at home" still holds true. 

Which brings me to...

THE OTHER... (Now now, it's your mind, that's the trouble!)

A lot of people in other parts of Europe have spent the summer thinking that islands like Rhodes are overrun with refugees. OK, so a few islands have been swamped by more refugees than they can handle this summer, and it's still going on, despite the fact that the sea is getting colder and progressively less calm as the winter months come upon us. Plus there is the way of thinking that fears extremists using this current tide of migrants as a "Trojan Horse" to enter the countries of Europe and wreak havoc there. So far the information I've read about the horrific and totally outrageous attacks in Paris has been conflicting, with some seemingly desperate to link them to the arrival of refugees from Arab countries. 

I don't profess to know anything about such things. What I do know, though, is that on islands like Kos, where I have a few close friends, despite the difficulties of sometimes having the "promenade" along the sea front covered in makeshift shelters, the overwhelming upshot of all this has been a wonderful demonstration of human kindness. The Greeks by and large, even in places where things have become somewhat fraught, have tried to extend their traditional hospitality to folk who have turned up bedraggled and with nothing more than what they're standing up in. Not just the Greeks either, but holidaymakers and ex-pats on Kos and Lesbos have pitched in and done what they could to help. I like to think that some holidaymakers went home with some sense of achievement.

There have been reports of people not wanting to go to the Greek islands in the east of the Aegean for their holidays for fears over their safety. On the ground here though, it's the safety of the refugees that is a far greater issue. True, problems have resulted and tempers frayed when some migrants have become hot under the collar about the conditions that they've been kept in. In such cases they do need themselves to adopt a correct perspective. Imagine if you were to hold a party on your lawn, which you expect to attract 100 guests. If a couple of thousand were to turn up then for sure there wouldn't be enough food to go around, there wouldn't be enough toilet facilities and a very small percentage could stay the night in comfort. 

Yet, seeing ex-pats here on Rhodes rallying to help people struggling ashore from sinking inflatables, along with local Greeks wading into the sea fully-clothed to assist pregnant women who run the risk of injury on the rocks upon which their flimsy boat has floundered, has only served to elicit my admiration as well as arouse in me that inherent belief that still by the majority of human beings want to be good to their fellows, not to inflict harm upon them.

My friends on Kos told me just a few weeks ago that life there goes on as normal. Despite the overcrowded symbolic "lawn", people are doing their best. Here on Rhodes the numbers have been relatively few and as a result it's been much easier to "process" them and send them on to Athens.

Whatever your take on the scene over here, the Greek islands involved are still a pretty safe and hospitable place to spend a vacation. As for the solution to this immense refugee problem. Time alone will reveal that. 


  1. Europe is changing, but then hasn't the world, as a whole, always been in a constant process of movement and change? It has, as you say, been wonderful to see and read about the demonstration of generosity and simple acts of humanity, particularly by the Greek people themselves, over the last few months. People just getting on with what has to be done, in an instinctive way, while governments debate, and debate, and debate.
    I do hope the olive harvest isn't too badly affected by the lack of rain. When we were in Rhodes in October the trees everywhere seemed to be laden with what, to my untrained eye, was a heavy crop which was 'fattening up' nicely. Having heard of the devastation in southern Italy, to the olive groves, caused by a bacterium native to South America I am wondering if the Greeks are geared up to fill the gap left in the market by the loss of thousands of ancient olive trees. Let's hope it doesn't spread further east!
    Love the photo of your better half eyeing up the solitary sun lounger!

    1. It was broken Vicki. That's why it had been left there! We did give it a try.