Autumn and its unhurried months of September and October have led us to November in our slice of the Greek Peloponnese. It is a time of betwixt and between those scorching summer days and those chilly winter days when we are bombarded by strong winds and heavy rain.
|Gythio on an autumn Sunday|
It has been a gorgeous time of year with gardens coming back to life, roses, lantana and geraniums in bloom, and olive harvest filling the air with the scent of fresh-pressed oil. The drought-stricken hillsides have gone from shades of brown and tan to lush variations of green created by the first of the season's rain. Sunsets have closed out our days with a blaze of autumn gold and orange.
|Autumn sunset from the Stone House on the Hill|
Until this year we'd never experienced an entire autumn in Greece. As long time readers know we usually return to our American home in Washington State for a few weeks this time of year. There, we also have that best of betwixt and between as we've missed the summer's heat and enjoy the autumn colors, the apple and grape harvest before winter's blustery cold, snowy weather arrives.
|Apples in Manson, Washington - our other home|
We can thank this year's COVID pandemic for providing these two expats the opportunity to experience the full spectrum of this lovely season here. With travel restrictions, pandemic precautions, testing, isolation, paperwork and the like, frankly taking a trip anywhere sounds almost overwhelming.
Yet, even though we are thoroughly enjoying our Greek world, it has been a bit unsettling to know we have a home in the States that we may not see until. . .well, until . . .well, we just don't know, when. We find ourselves somewhat betwixt and between our worlds for lack of a better description.
|Messinias Bay in September|
As columnist Emma Brockes wrote of the expat experience in time of pandemic last week in The Guardian newspaper, 'It is one thing to stay away when you can't be bothered to travel, and another when the option is removed.' She continued, " 'We'll go home in the spring,' we say, as if anything is likely to change.' "
In our case, we'd planned to spend month of August back in the States -- that was a decision made long before the word COVID-19 became an everyday word. After COVID arrived we talked of September and then October and then of November. . .
|Oh, for those days of travel. . .|
There are flights between this side of the pond and the States. It is just that the shifting sands of this pesky pandemic seem to be in a constant state of movement these days. So a traveler doesn't know what the rules might be from one day to the next or one country to the next. And it is impossible right now to fly to the States from Greece without transiting another country on this side of the pond. In the last few days France and the United Kingdom have locked down their countries, Germany is in partial lockdown. Greece is in a partial lockdown beginning tomorrow, Nov. 3rd.
Originally our hesitation about returning to the States was whether Greece would allow us back in upon our return. Currently American tourists aren't yet welcome in Greece because that country's COVID- numbers have been too high. Two exceptions are if you are a Greek national returning from America or are a permanent resident here.
|Would we be allowed back in Greece?|
Our attorney here tells us that we are permanent residents by virtue of that little government issued residency permit card we carry with us.
However,as we have waffled in making a decision to go or stay in Greece, this adopted country of ours -- the once poster child for COVID prevention -- has had its numbers of cases skyrocket. Not so very long ago, the daily cases averaged 20 - 25 and this weekend we hit 2,000 cases in a single day. Cases continue to be at 1,500 or above. The number of intubated patients are nearing 200 in this country that early-on reported having 300 ICU beds available.
|The 2020 travel look|
As I was writing this post a headline flashed across my screen that two areas of Greece have gone into total lockdown - residents in those two place are being required to text the government before leaving their homes. Our region isn't there . . .yet. We suspect it is coming.
The next COVID wave seems to have arrived. Tomorrow we return to wearing facemasks indoors and out throughout the country. Hotels and hairdressers remain open for now. So tomorrow -- instead of flying to Seattle -- we head out to get hair cuts and then spend a couple nights at a hotel within our Messinias region. Who knows? That might be the the last outing for us during this betwixt and between time.
|February day in Manson - where our US roots are planted|
Thanks to the many of you who wrote to ask whether the recent earthquake that struck the Greek island of Samos and Izmir, Turkey impacted us. Another headline just flashed across my screen while writing this saying two more earthquakes had hit the country today -- we have been blessed to have missed them all. Thank you for checking on us.
|Wild cyclamen carpet the groves in autumn|
As we watched the live report on Saturday of 40 rescue workers trying to extract a woman from her home, now a concrete mass of rubble as result of the earthquake, we decided that being betwixt and between as we are, really isn't such a dilemma after all. Our homes are standing and we are well.
Where ever you are we hope that you and yours continue to be well and safe. Hope you'll return next week when we will have more Greek expat travel tales for you!
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