Monday, 21 November 2011

The Rhythm of a Village

Karyes as seen from the clock tower

No matter where you go in the world there are some commonalities to daily life and there are some differences. We have been trying to adjust ourselves to the way the day evolves in our Greek village under the banner of, "When in Rome......."
Karyes  has no mayor,  no village council, no committee of representatives but it is ruled nonetheless by a very large and imposing fellow.

The Karyes clock tower. The time is wrong but the bells are right
The major domo of our village is none other than the clock tower which sits at the top of the village.
It chimes out the number of bells, on the hour, all through the day and the night and it tolls out one bell on each half hour too. If you have one of those nights where you wake up at 3 am and can't get back to sleep then our clock lets you know just how long you have been awake.  In our early days in the village, it was the clock who alerted us to the fact that the time had fallen back by one hour. It took us all day to figure it out but by 6 pm, the time change, announced by the clock, was verified by the TV. Our clock is sometimes annoying but always helpful.

The church dominates the village skyline as you approach Karyes
In most of the French villages we have visited, it was the church that tolled the hours and was the centre of the village. Karyes has several churches. The two main churches:one in the lower village and one in the upper village take turns having Sunday services. We usually go to church when we live abroad but so far  the three hour Sunday morning service beginning at 7:30 am has seemed a little daunting and in the Greek language too. The main church on the upper platia  was built with money sent back by villagers working abroad. The group in Toronto sent such a sizeable sum that the Greek orthodox bishop of  Toronto came here to consecrate the church at its opening.

But the heart and soul of this village can be found in the central platia with its three cafenions and two tavernas, the church and the town hall. Here the day is marked, here the villagers gather and here you get a true sense of the village.

The platia at Karyes
The day starts early with the crowing of the rooster who lives next door and the sounds of gunshots echoing in the hills where it is boar hunting season for the locals. The  trucks are soon pulling out of the village and by 8 am, the children are walking to school. The local grocery shops open a little later and stay open until 2 pm. They close for three hours and re-open from 5 pm until 8 pm. Although the old men sit in the cafenions most of the morning and afternoon, the really busy times are between noon and 2 pm and between 6 and 8 pm. I don't really know the working hours of all the professions but it is consistent in any town to find the cafenions  crowded in those two time periods.

There is also a weekly rhythm to our village. Sunday is a special day not only because of the church services but because it is the day when families go out for lunch --- at 2 pm.
The taverna on the platia in Karyes
We have learned to eat later and we have plans to do Sunday lunches out. A few weeks ago we went at 1 pm to the taverna for lunch. 
It was crowded then; but by 2 pm people were waiting outside in the sunshine for a table to become available. Many were outsiders from a nearby city out for a drive and a rustic lunch in the country. And a hearty lunch of roast lamb and potatoes, local wine and bread it was. It was good that we had just been for a bike ride. But when we went for a walk at 4:30 pm, the taverna was still busy with folks.  In village Greece, they take Sunday lunch seriously.

the only diners outside at Kastanitsa
And so, we try to fit in. It is useless to think about going on a tour in the afternoon so we have learned to go in the morning. We come back for lunch late or we stop for a 2 pm lunch if we are far from home.
We often go to a cafenion at 5 or 6 pm for a tea called chai too voo noo or tea of the mountain which is really a wild sage type plant. We bought some in a nearby village and when not at the cafenion we make our own at home to go with our scavenged chestnits which we roast.

We are not used to living close to other people but the village is friendly and the noises are mostly of a natural kind. The wind often howls around the old stone houses much like the French mistral. The hunting dogs, kept chained, often set up their protests and the stray cats can yowl into the night. Several times a week, farmers drive their little trucks through the village announcing produce for sale through their megaphones; workers  are re-building a stone house nearby and we hear the saws and the hammers all day long . Georgis, one of the workers, who spent two years in Toronto has an endearing habit of driving by and calling out of his truck window, "How are you, dear lady?". To which I reply, "Poli kala.." And then there is the village telephone. When you want your kids for supper, there is no need to phone their friends, you just open the door and call their names. The response is almost instantaneous. This works for discipline too. I have heard George, discipline his son, Costas, with a loud utterance of his name when the boys were getting into mischief such as they did when they let the old lady's chickens out. And George never even leaves the job site.

Kitty eats on our balcony
skittish kitty doesn't trust the camera
Everyone is very welcoming but the one who loves us  most is this little black cat who sleeps on our door mat  We  feed him each day but he is still quite skittish. Black cats are my favourite. Truffles grew up with my kids and a black stray kept us company at The Tobermory all summer. Perhaps this one is the Greek incarnation.

Ta Petrina is the apartment we stay in

  All in all, the rhythm of life in Karyes suits us well. Until next time, "Yassus" and "Adeeosus"


No comments:

Post a Comment