Friday, 4 November 2011

The Blues

the man square of  upper Karyes

The village is pretty enough,  and the sun is shining so why am I in a blue funk?

I think it may have something to do with the language. I don't have any!! 
There is a reason for the phrase, "It's all Greek to me". Why is it so difficult?   I can't read the language, I can't hear anything that I can make sense of and I can't say a thing. So effectively I am deaf, dumb and mute in this country of Greece and I'll be here for six months! The worst of it is that people are so friendly and talk to me and all I can do is respond with my well practiced Greek phrase, "I'm sorry, I don't speak Greek." There I sit, with the conversation whirling around me. They look at me and all I can do is look back and smile. I feel so isolated. 
a road sign in the Pelopponnese
 Minas tells me that he could have bought me a book on learning Greek. It is called "Learn Greek ... in 25 Years". By then I will be dead but perhaps my efforts in this village will kill me first. In school we used to chant, "Latin is a language as dead as dead can be, First it killed the Romans and now it's killing me". Substitute the word Greek and you will get the idea.

And then there is the house. My darling sister-in-law said it looked somewhat like the size of our shed back home and indeed it is about 650 square feet. I was discouraged when I walked in. It is clean and it has good heating but the walls are bare and the kitchen is woefully inadequate. Unlike the quaint old houses in France where you could rummage around in spare rooms and cupboards and re-purpose old linens, pictures and lamps, this is a new holiday apartment. We have sacrificed charm for hot water.  The only cooking apparatus is a free-standing unit with an oven and two electric burners on top. Think a toaster oven on steroids and you will be in the right ballpark. Of course you can only use one burner at a time. and it takes up all the counter space. It is difficult to make meals - pasta takes one hour - and I can't imagine how we are going to produce Christmas dinner. The fridge is a small under-the-counter unit and the dishes are on open shelves; so I get my daily squats without ever going near a fitness class. All of this for a girl who likes order, functionality and aesthetically pleasing surroundings. Hence the blues.
What to do???

Number one is to pull up my socks and decide that I will learn some Greek.  I bought a notebook and Minas lettered the cover with Catherine Learns Greek
So I must start with the alphabet and summon up all that I remember of sorority and fraternity signs, all the Greek notation that I have forgotten from math and chemistry class and apply it to daily life here. It is interesting that I find the capital letters easier as we always taught children to read and write with an emphasis on lower case letters. Were we wrong or is it just that the capitals have more of a resemblance to English? That and some memory work is how I will begin. Wish me luck.

As for the house, a 6 hour round trip to IKEA in Athens for kitchen equipment,desks and lamps, a walk in the forest to collect rose hip sprays, pine cones and wildflowers, some colourful free wrapping paper from the store where we bought our printer and I am in business. Not finished but on my way to "nest-building", as my friend, Louise noted.

the living room
the kitchen end

But a village with three cafes and friendly folks where the sun shines all the time is not a bad place to spend the winter.
two cafes flank a barber shop in the square of Karyes

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