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Serving suggestion

ServingSuggestionSpotted mere feet away from Daphne’s ‘giant squid’, this was the state of the far end of the town beach this drizzly Wednesday afternoon. Author Donovan Hohn’s tongue-in-cheek non-fiction eco thriller Moby-Duck, about his journey around the world in search of 28,000 plastic bath toys that fell off a container ship in the Pacific and began circling the globe on various currents, explains that most beach refuse is from somewhere else, and quite often far away. He concludes that beach clean-up exercises, while necessary, and doomed to fail without international action on mindless dumping. We would have taken some of it with us, but were heading away from the bins at the time. Avrio…

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Thursday November 27 promises to be an interesting day with Greek labor unions calling for a 24 hour general strike.

Closed will be banks, schools, and public offices (Town Hall and KEP ie). Supposedly there is also a seaman’s strike which usually doesn’t affect us here in Skopelos. Tomorrow the Post Office will strike.

Also saying that they will protest along with others in the 24 hour strike are the air traffic controllers. If they are allowed by the courts to strike usually the event lasts only a few hours. Usually the courts say that a strike by the air traffic controllers would be illegal and they work as usual. If you plan to travel better check ahead.

Tomorrow at 10am there will be a protest rally at the Demotiko Kafenion focusing on the on-going dismantling of Greek society by making the poor and middle class pay for the crimes of the wealthy. Speeches etc.

We have said this before and it is certainly worth repeating. To keep up to date with Greek strike news it is best to check in with the “Living in Greece” blog written by the very public spirited “Kat”. Somehow she manages to get the lowdown on most of the strike info (and also a ton of other great information) and generously offers it here. So a big thank you to Kat from SkopelosNews!

Squid

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Pieces of wood in the strangest shapes turn up on our beaches. This trunk looked like a gigant squid to me (Daphne)

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Working for the municipality, Andreas, together with his two great mules, collects bags of trash within the village. This is how Andreas and his mules spent their day off today.

Should SkopelosNews provide you with a month by month progress report of whatever Andreas plants this year? Last year’s report was extremely popular.

per request, a closer look

per request, click on for a closer look

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We hear disquieting reports of a rash of mysterious ‘keying’ vandalism attacks on a vehicle and an earlier attack on a house in otherwise sleepy Palio Klima. The attacks on the car (above) took place over a period of some days, suggesting that the vandalism is the work of an inhabitant, and followed an equally mysterious keying of a house door. As the car’s owner is looking at a repaint bill in the region of a thousand euro, the police have been informed and, as Palio Klima is sparsely populated at this time of year, the culprit might expect to be apprehended shortly.

The last stretch?

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I (Daphne) am writing this post to tell you about a kind of melancholic feeling that I have had for the last couple of weeks. Skopelos is quiet, you have the chance and time to see and speak to friends, family and other Skopelitans. After the talks and stories I felt the need to express myself and write this post.

I promise that this is not going to be a whining sad story but more a peek into daily life here in the winter and what the crisis is doing to people’s lives here. It hasn’t affected everybody’s life here but quite a few for sure. I have the feeling that some people are walking on their last legs. The crisis has been going on for quite a few years.

In other parts of the world many people are far worse off but I want to talk about Skopelos and give you an impression.

What I hear in conversations is that people are tired, not only from the very busy summer (good!) but more from the endless new laws and rules implemented by the Troika/Greek government. It is unbelievable how many laws have changed the last couple of years. It is sometimes difficult to understand for people (and me) what the new law is exactly for and what it will mean for our/their lives.

Greeks are known homeowners and the last and latest property tax has hit many people. Homeownership is something very important here. But what do you do if you inherit 12 properties after your parent’s death? Can you pay all the taxes due, can you sell any properties in this crises?

Here on Skopelos, as a dowry present, a house is given to the daughter. Parents sacrifice a lot to provide that house (mortgages, loans, selling of properties, leaving their own house etc). It’s a question of pride in a small community like Skopelos to give that house to the daughter. I know a couple who have moved into the basement! of their house to give the rest of the house to the daughter.

In the summer many people were employed on Skopelos but after that almost all register for unemployment benefit. A lot of people are employed only for 5 months a year (that is our season here). These people are lucky if they find work in the winter and so many try to find other jobs; waiter becomes fisherman, cook collects garbage, electrician works in olive press etc. Lots of women have jobs in supermarkets here, some unemployed men are at home with the children and take care of elderly relatives. In many countries it is not unusual for a man to stay at home and take care of the children but not here!

Other families send their children back to family in other cities or countries (an Albanian acquaintance can’t stop talking about her 4-year-old son who is in Albania and she is not) Some move all together back to places where the family is close by and can act like a safety net. Parents with children end up living with their father and mother again. 3 generations in one house.

We haven’t collected our olives this year but some people asked me if they could collect our olives from the ground (hard work). I never heard that before. The weather is relatively mild so far but wood is being collected by many. Driftwood from beaches is collected. People remark on the amount of men sitting in cafe’s. I used to remark that those are pensioners but now I say, these are builders without a job.

In a small place like Skopelos you know everybody and the personal stories are hard to miss. It does not mean that all is bad. I see that people step up to provide services like sports training to kids. More people organize parties together for a good cause and volunteer when it is needed. The church plays a role in providing basic goods to families that are struggling and fortunately everybody knows each other here so hopefully when people need help it can be provided quickly. It is different in the city where a 17-year-old girl fainted when she brought her father to the hospital for treatment. The last 5 days she had eaten only wild greens and her parents, both unemployed, were too shy to ask for help.

I hope for many people (pensioners, unemployed, big families etc.) in Greece this is the last stretch.

Battle for the Summit

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The Skopelos Scramblers hiking club (open to all) have plans to assault the peak of Panagia Tou Pirgou sometime in the future.

Four teams have been practicing high altitude climbing with oxygen packs in the past months. Skilled at climbing with ropes, the group has worked very hard at perfecting high altitude bad weather camping techniques including belaying and hanging bivouacs beneath overhangs.

The group has already mapped the routes to be undertaken (See illustration).

Group One will temp fate and altitude sickness on the dizzying East Face, while the always problematic Southeast Face, with its curious collection of protected and exposed area will challenge Group Two. Group Three, the notorious “Sidewinders”, will endeavor to zig-zag their way up the dangerous South Face. We don’t wish to forget Group Four who will struggle with the West Face by taking the stairs (watch out for step seven – it might pose a problem).

Though the impediments are great, the group feels confident that they will be able to “handle this one” as one of the brave mountaineers put it.

Besides oxygen tanks, the standard kit for this outing will include helmets or hats of their choice, crampons and ice axes, lots of rope, pinions and carabiners, foul weather sleeping gear, lots of sunscreen and the ever present George Mallory Picnic Basket.

Good luck to all.

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