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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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Last Sunday’s Skopelos Scramblers walk to Ag. Anna was spectacular, with sunshine and clear views. The kalderimi is a bit rough on the feet but only extends for a third of the route there. The way is bordered by trees that produce a fruit resembling a strawberry – delicious [that would be the arbutus unedo, the strawberry tree or cane apple – Pedantry Corner Ed.]. [Cue furious corrections by irate horticulturalist readers.] After a picnic with hot coffee – thanks, Sandra – the group climbed the hillside to the starting point. A successful circular route and a particular favourite of the Scramblers.

Sunday 23rd November

The Group will meet at the Kastro car park for a scramble to Glysteri beach and back. Weather permitting, the group will share a picnic at the beach.

Contact Muriel Dunlop on 24240 24732 if you want to join the group for the first time, have any questions or if there is any doubt about the weather.

Mr Cool takes a bow

BoutarisThanks to the bookmark-worthy Greek news site The Press Project for tipping us off about this. It may not strictly be an about-Skopelos story, but many visitors pass through the city in question en route here or home, and for some years Skopelos politicians have been nurturing cultural and trade links with the same city.

As our screengrab explains, Thessaloniki’s impossibly cool Third Age (72 last June) tattoo-sporting mayor Yiannis Boutaris recently parted company with (most of) his clothes to join 31 other Greek celebrities to promote AIDS awareness on International AIDS Day on December 1. Boutaris, who swapped the mayoral limo for a bicycle (there’s also a modest Fiat Panda in the garage) and has turned parts of central Thessaloniki into a haven for artists and crafts workers, has also been outspoken in his opposition to Chrysi Avgi, cleared up a €100m city budget deficit, and wants to turn Greece’s second city into a multi-cultural Balkan hub attracting visitors from as far afield as Russia and Israel. He was voted ‘Best Mayor in the World’ by, uh, an international mayors’ organization in 2012, and is as outspoken on gay rights as he is on Thessaloniki’s links to Turkey and the need to revive the city’s Jewish heritage.

And while they share his reservations about the future, even The Daily Telegraph seem to like him.

mushrooms

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These mushrooms we found quite close to the chicken coop at home. We haven’t seen such big mushrooms for a long time and maybe the amount of rain that has fallen is the reason they are so big or maybe the natural fertilizer from the chickens did the job?

More about movies!

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While looking into the story about the 11 min. Greek tourism film first posted here and here last week, we have found further claims of copyright infringement by independent photographers and film makers. We mentioned the “borrowing” of the 12 Apostles scenes shot by Australian photographer Alex Cherney who was not credited nor was he compensated until after the film came out.

Now another artist, a Norwegian named Stian Rekdal, claims that some of his footage was also borrowed without credit. He says that he was only compensated after the fact.

However, Rekdal’s 6 minute video (here) (screenshot above) is good and reminds us a lot of Zachos Stamoulis’ video (here) of Skopelos from a few years back.
Although the Rekdal video emphasizes Santorini, Meteora, Athens and Nauplion, and the colour is highly saturated, and the soundtrack gets better towards the end of the video, it is fun to watch and says much without any silly narration.

volunteers and recycling

2014-11-18 13.30.02It seems that the volunteers office of the municipality is more organized this year. Skopelosnews is receiving messages about their actions and a Facebook page has been set up;Γραφειο Εθελοντισμου της Δημοτικης Ενοτητας Σκοπελου. On Thursday the 20th of November between 10 and 12 in the morning anybody who has collected empty plastic bottles, cans and bottle tops can bring them to the harbor to the freight ship Joanna Chrysoula.They will transport the recycled materials to the organization White Butterflies in Volos. This organization supports people with mental problems. More information about the action please call 6972581253

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