Showing posts with label Greek village life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greek village life. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Jubilate: A Greek Village Christmas

Jubilate ~ a verb; to feel joy or great delight.  That is my word for this Christmas in Greece.

Village Christmas 2020 - Agios Nikolaos

Few creatures have been stirring this week in our Greek village that hugs the western coastline of the southern Peloponnese. The usual slow pace, has slowed even more in the days leading up to and following Christmas as our weather has alternated between sunshine and storms. 

Carolers at our taverna table in the village, 2021

But what made this Christmas special was that we were stirring, if even at a slowed and somewhat sporadic pace!

Jubilate ~ the gift of freedom

Christmas Syntagma Square Athens, 2019

This year we have been basking in the gift of freedom, something we had taken for granted up until it was snatched away by Covid prevention restrictions in the early months of 2020 and not returned until late spring this year. 

Christmas Morning 2020 - coffee in the parking lot - Covid lockdown

Last Christmas was celebrated with all of Greece in lockdown. Lockdown meant that we texted the government for permission to go out for one of six allowed reasons - and didn't leave the house until it was granted (thankfully, it was usually an immediate response). 

Christmas morning, 2021, inside with friends - jubilate

A year ago,  the Christmas morning highlight was drinking a take-away cappuccino in the parking lot at the harbor. This Christmas we joined friends for coffee on the day before Christmas, sitting at tables on the taverna's deck enjoying the winter's sun and youthful carolers (not allowed last year). On Christmas morning we sat inside the gaily decorated taverna and sipped coffee with other friends.

Paketo Christmas dinner - alone at home - 2020

Paketo, literally means packed, but became the shortened phrase for 'to go' or 'take out' during lockdown. Our Christmas dinner from a favorite taverna was served paketo, aluminum foil containers in a plastic bag. We ate at home alone - gatherings were discouraged. Vaccines hadn't yet been made available and frankly we feared getting Covid.

Food, wine, music - Christmas Eve dinner, 2021

We went out to -- and dined inside -- another favorite taverna this Christmas Eve! We listened to Greek musicians play traditional tunes. Live music, for that matter, all music, was banned in public establishments last year, as it might have caused patrons to linger longer. 

Christmas Eve in Kardamyli - Jubilate - 2021

Later we sipped a glass of wine sitting at the bar and visiting with our longtime friend who owns it.  Last year it was forbidden to sit at any bar so what a treat it was this year to do something as simple as sipping wine sitting at a bar! 

The two tavernas in which we celebrated this Christmas Eve are in our neighboring village of Kardamyli, about five miles from our village. Last Christmas we weren't allowed to travel that far from home.  

Jubilate ~ Gifts not wrapped

Jubilate - music inside Christmas Eve

Inside! What a magic word! Another word and concept we took for granted in our staid American life that we left behind when we chose to try expat life in Greece. No one expected when we made the move, to have the entire world turned upside down by a pandemic. We are still thankful we rode out the initial year here in Greece. It taught us much about appreciating so much of which we previously took for granted both here and in the States.

Kalamata Christmas carols rang out through the town

Music! Christmas carols have never sounded as sweet as they did being played from speakers along the pedestrian street in Kalamata (another forbidden destination at this time last year). Or when the school kids came to sing songs to us in the village.  

Jubilate - to feel joy or delight - is definitely my word this year. 

Friends on the beach Christmas Morning 2021

Friends! You don't know how much you miss your friends until you are not allowed to be with them. What a gift it has been to be with people again, laughing, hugging, chatting and getting caught up with each other.

Jubilate ~ Savor The Moment 

The only village decoration, 2021

Now to be totally honest about this Christmas, I must tell you that Covid case numbers are soaring in Greece at a dizzying pace. The government tightened prevention measures the day before Christmas requiring masks be worn indoors and out, double masks or N95 in grocery stores. We continue to show proof of vaccination or recent negative tests to enter stores and entertainment venues. We are prepared for additional measures to be announced this week - nothing as drastic as before, though, we are told.  

And for that we jubilate.

We hope that whatever the holiday or season you are celebrating that you have cause to experience my word: jubilate. Again thank you for the time you spent with us and we will be back with more tales from Italy next week!

Linking sometime soon with:

Monday, February 8, 2021

In Greece ~ You've Got Mail!

"You've got mail," messaged our friend, Stella, from the neighboring village, "I saw a letter for you at the Stoupa post office."  

Stoupa, our neighbor village, home to the post office

Now that was news!! But what to do? Hop in the car and go racing to the substation that afternoon or wait until the next day in hopes it would still be there. We did wait until the next day and I found it in a tray of  unclaimed letters that we now routinely sort through when at our tiny substation of a post office. You never know what missing treasures you might find in that bin! 

Getting mail is one of those multitudes of things we  realize we took for granted when living in the United States. After email came along, we snidely called the tangible stuff delivered each day, 'snail mail' with no concept of what real 'snail mail" meant. It, like uninterrupted electricity and internet during a storm, a supply of domestic water during the summer months, regular garbage collection, and road repair are among those things so routinely available or provided that we gave little thought to them. And, I might add, little thanks for them - until having the opportunity to experience life without them.

The road beyond us awaits repairs

For those of you -- and I know there are quite a few of you out there -- who are considering the expat life, these little, but often continuous, upheavals of routines and expectations once taken for granted, are among the things you will need to be able to shrug off. . .that, or you will soon be wearing straight jackets as your uniform.  

I sometimes laugh at myself when I say that we chose the expat life because we 'wanted to live differently' because sometimes it is so very different it takes a bit to comprehend how very different it is!

You've Got Mail or Do You?

Before Brexit and Covid - still a game of chance

While mail delivery to Greece has always been a game of chance, a combination of a change in local postal delivery, Covid lockdowns and Brexit made for the perfect storm;  a vast Never, Never Land between sender and recipient which seems never-ending. 

That would be where we live - no address!

Our long-time readers know that we live in a rural area of the Greek Peloponnese, just outside the fishing village of Agios Nikolaos. We have no street address, in fact our street doesn't have a name. We describe our location as the 'bad road between Agios Dimitrios and Platsa' (referring to the road condition - not the neighbors) although we often  describe our address as it relates to a neighbor's house because they are better known in the village. 

Our address? The road to Platsa, that's it!

For having no address, our mailing address is a marathon long: Kossava, (for the area), Agios Dimitrios (nearest village), Messinias Mani (the region), 24024 (postal code) and Greece (our host country). 

And the former longtime postman knew that meant: leave it on the mail table in Gregg's Plateia, in Agios Nikolaos and we'd pick it up there.  Really quite simple. . .until . . .

Local Changes ~ Local Confusion

We got a new delivery system and new mailman.  Then Gregg's Plateia was closed (as most eateries continue to be) as part of second COVID lockdown, now in its fourth month. With Gregg's closed and no commercial business open in our area, the new postman had nowhere to deliver 'Kossava' mail.  So it was left in the new Stoupa post office to be picked up by us there.   

Simplify the address, we thought. . .

However, in an effort to simplify delivery, we'd started notifying senders to change it to one that reads:  c/o Gregg's Plateia in Agios Nikolaos because that mail does get delivered to a business in Agios Nikolaos while the lockdown continues.

All we've accomplished was to add to the storm as now some mail goes one place, some is the other and some remains in Never, Never Land.  

First, Covid, then Brexit

For a short time, mail delivery was negatively impacted when France closed its borders to - both people and parcels - coming from the United Kingdom  after the new strain of Covid was discovered in the UK.  The photos of transportation traffic jams were enough to give anyone hives. . .especially those who had ordered items from the UK and who suspected those items were somewhere within those big trucks parked on the highways unable to move.

On January1st, when the United Kingdom left the European Union, the reverberations were felt even in the village.  All mail delivery to and from the United Kingdom stopped. For a few weeks leading up to New Year's Day and for a period of time after, our British expats friends here found themselves unable to mail anything back home or receive it as well.

Customs form  - new normal for UK And EU

Logistics between the UK and EU had to be worked out. Customs forms are now required for parcels sent between the two, declaring contents and value of the goods being shipped. Some people are posting on FB even this second week of February that parcels sent to them prior to the breakup are being held by customs officials for lack of proper customs declarations.

Even we Yanks felt the pinch. I had three books on order from Book Depository in London and two items that had been delayed in shipping from (yes, we shop on line when in lockdown with all retail stores closed for months at a time).  All eventually arrived in late January bearing the appropriate customs declaration forms.

It was during a Zoom visit with friends back in the States a few weeks ago, that I realized how different our world is from that which we left behind. In the course of the conversation they mentioned how frustrating it was to place an Amazon order and expect same day delivery and have it arrive two days later.  Days, mind you! We now consider it speedy if  something arrives within the month!  Sometimes we think it a miracle that it arrives at all!

Life Goes On

Christmas cards on display - on our mantle

As it turned out that letter Stella alerted us to was a Christmas card sent from the United States well before the holiday but it arrived in the village just after we'd flipped the calendar page to February. Actually, it made good time as it arrived within a month. We've had a half dozen such cards arrive in recent weeks -- all are on display on the fireplace mantle, now replacing those shown above which arrived in December and January.

The best part of all of this is that we have learned to make do with what we have and not to fret about that which we don't have. If missing mail is the worst thing we suffer during a pandemic then so be it! We'll take it. 

I have to tell you, though, that getting mail, real, open-the-flap-and-pull-it-out-of-the-envelope kind of mail, is a real treat when you are an expat.  We recognize it take a bit extra effort to get that international stamp and get the item mailed to us and we appreciate that effort so very much!

We got mail! 

As I mentioned above our lockdown has moved into its fourth month in Greece. The supply of COVID vaccine has been much less than expected in the European Union so vaccinations are going slowly. But thankfully, not as slow as the mail!

Until next time, we thank you for your time and hope you are continuing to stay safe and distanced! Next time I plan to tell you about Kalamata, the city, not the olive. . .it is one of Greece's hidden tourist gems!

Linking soon with:

Through My Lens
Travel Tuesday
Our World Tuesday
My Corner of the World Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday


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