Archive for the ‘People’ Category

A couple of weeks I was visiting a neighbourhood in Skopelos town for an errand and when I could not find the person I needed I decided to wait and say hello to a lady ( Mrs. E) who I know from the flower decoration evening in the church at Easter.

When I knocked on her door Mrs. E invited me in and when I came into the tiny living room I saw an elderly lady on the couch, eating her porridge (Quaker) She acknowledged me but was silent. I started talking with Mrs. E and she told me that the woman on the couch is her mother. She is 93. She is ok healthwise but needs to take a lot of medicines and cannot be left alone because she walks with great difficulty and can fall. So they spend almost 24 hours a day with each other. There is no money for another carer but fortunately her two children help out when it is needed.

When the porridge was eaten I asked the elderly lady if she liked the television programmes on tv and if they keep her company and she said:”no I don’t really watch television, I read…” I then asked her what she was reading at the moment and her daughter picked up a book from a small pile. It was the diary of Anne Frank… How wrong about people and their lives can you be if you don’t know about their past!

I told the elderly lady I am a librarian and that I love reading too. When I saw that she had double folded her page to know where she stopped reading I immediately thought about all the book markers I have at home and I told her I would bring her one. I have an embroidered one with spring flowers and this one I brought (washed and ironed) to her yesterday. When I gave it to her she said nothing but her fierce eyes were thanking me. I am so happy that from this unexpected visit so much joy came and the friendship and understanding with this Greek family has another layer of memories.


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Walking down the ring road for an errand I saw this woman looking at the elementary school playground. I know her and asked if she was looking for somebody. She said:” my eldest grandchild has just started in the elementary school and I miss her” So S. goes to the school to see her when she plays in the playground.

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The queen is gone

(Katherina’s work)

This post is to announce the very sad passing of Mrs. Katherina Provias, yesterday the 7th of September. She was buried this morning at 11. Katherina was the figurehead of Magic Cars and the tourist information office she managed for many years. Many people knew her and admired her strength. With Katherina you always knew exactly what she thought. She would never beat around the bush. She would go all the way for many people. She was very generous and always would try to find a solution for a problem. She adored her family, her children, the grandchildren and the contact with the hundreds of people she knew! Goodbye Katherina Καλό Παράδεισο.

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Going where ?

As a foreigner in Greece with two children I was sometimes at a loss in understanding how the Greek school system worked and very worried whether my children would be able to walk through it with “success”. As a foreigner you have no clue how everything works and the first years the advice of other parents was vital. The first thing though I needed to do was stop comparing the school system I knew in Holland with the Greek. The second thing I did was: I became a member of school parents boards to understand more of the system, the curriculum etc.

As a mixed family (Greek-Dutch) we try to speak two languages at home but by the time the children reached the middle and high school, greek was the only language that was used to explain and to talk about lessons. Greek now is the children’s first language, english is the second (because many children follow extra english lessons and try to obtain an english diploma which helps them in the future) and Dutch is their third language. I feel the children know quite a bit about the dutch language and with some extra time their knowledge of the language will become even better.

When the children reached the high school they took a private test of about 500 questions to find out what their interests were and what kind of subjects/schools fit with them.This test helped a lot with the final direction of classes that the children wanted to follow and the choice of higher education later.

We chose to give the children the opportunity to follow extra lessons in subjects for their finals. This money the parents pay out of their pockets. Not every parent is able to do this and many children get to higher education schools without it but we felt that the teacher could help us with many questions we had about the whole process. After school they would go there. The children continued to participate in other activities like sports and it helped them psychologically too.

And then came the finals this year. You can do finals in four, five or six subjects. Unfortunately everything is decided at the finals and there is not much room to up your grades if you have a really bad exam. If you have a bad day, tough luck. The amount of points you gather enables you to get into higher education schools like a university. If you don’t have the required amount of points you can also go to a private school (you pay for this type of education)

Our oldest child graduated and has been accepted in a university. The result of her hard work. Our part in the whole process was listening to her dreams, trying to find out what possibilities she had and trying to support her every step of the way with the help of many people.

The heartfelt congratulations of so many people has overwhelmed us completely and we want to thank everybody from the bottom of our hearts. Here on Skopelos the children have to leave the island if they want to go and study. It is considered a big thing and rightfully so. Many people on the island (and off) follow and learn about the results and find out where students are accepted. Next steps getting there and finding an apartment …. Oh my ….

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Last night, a Saturday night, which was a good Kastro bar night, Yiannis “ZORO” Rafaelidis died. Yiannis was ill for a while. He was buried this Sunday afternoon.

He would take it easy, get his pension and start fishing more and he would start organizing parties again and talk and talk because that is what Yiannis liked, talk to people, get to know them. That was his thing and that is why the famous Kastro bar that he owned was so successful.

Zoro was a great plumber and his sons Thodoris and Stelios followed in his footsteps and took over the business. Yiannis was thankful for that and he started making his plans. He wanted a website about Kastro bar. The beginning is there. John Gill set it up for him and loaded up many photos of that wonderful time between the end of 1970’s and the middle 1990’s. The history of the bar is there. The link is here; Kastro bar

Zoro will be missed by many many people.

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(Photo made by Costas Andreou)

It is really a coincidence that today I am writing about this incredible woman and it is International Woman’s Day. I personally think that every day should be a day that women are paid equal in the workplace, are treated with the same respect as men and have the same right to speak up about issues that they are dealing with. We don’t need a day for that and there is still a long way to go.

The woman I will speak about here was a wife, a mother, and a sister. She was not thinking about equal rights when she grew up, she just got on with it but oh boy she suffered quite a bit growing up. Working all day on the land, bearing children, trying to make a living with very little money. For her, family was everything and that was her right, just as it is a right that every woman has to choose how she wants to live and work. Nobody can say anything about that.

Last week one of the most gentle, generous people died on Skopelos.
Kyria Margarita Gripioti died after a stroke. Fortunately she did not suffer long. She reached the age of 87 years. I would have liked her around a couple of more years but it was not to be. She was tired.

For this woman many, many years nothing was too much. She helped the whole neighborhood and was always present when work needed to be done in the churches surrounding her house (there are about eight!) I am happy I saw her a couple of days before she died. She complained that her feet were hurting…

Many people said goodbye to her during the funeral and that must have been of some comfort to her relatives who are left behind. I will never forget her and her beautiful laugh. I have written about Margarita Gripioti before on skopelosnews and want to share this memory with you one more time. Her presence around Christos church will be missed very much.

This is Kyria Margarita Gripioti or auntie as I can call her. When I (Daphne) came to Skopelos for the first time I stayed in her best room with a wonderful view along Christos church to the sea. We could not understand each other at the time and she made it difficult for me to accept the room because she wanted more money than I could pay but in the end we closed the deal mainly because of the view the room had. On my bedroom wall were beautiful plates and a big mirror. I know for sure that this room was used for name days and parties. When I came down for a coffee later I found a young man in the kitchen having his supper. He was one of her sons and he is the best friend of my husband (much later)

Margarita is a widow and she has difficulty walking nowadays and a great part of her day is spend in the churches that surround the Christos church. There are about eight and she has the key for at least three. Candles have to be lit, the floors have to be clean and in general the churches need to be ready for any event.

I used to organize town walks and she was one of the few ladies I could count on to open a church for me and show it to my visitors. I never forget the evening when I arrived with a mixed group of Greeks and Spaniards and she told me it was too late to show the church. Many churches, mainly the smaller ones, don’t have electricity. I looked at her and begged her to open one. She took a look at the group and me and went to the nearest church. We waited outside and she came back with a handful of small lighted candles, everybody took one and in we went! One of the Greeks was the son of a priest and he started singing/chanting quietly when we were all inside. Margarita followed his song and after it was finished we all thanked her for her kindness. An unforgettable memory because of Kyria Margarita.

Kyria Margarita an actor and singer in one of the SIFFY films, KEFI. She starts singing from 2.50 minutes.

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(Popi on the left)

March in Greece means that you need to wear a March bracelet/βραχιόλι του Μάρτη and who else except Popi would think of that. My daughter came home with one bracelet for her and one for me.
Popi made them for us and God knows for how many more people .
Popi is a real friend who cares for everybody, thinks of everybody and especially thinks of children. She is never on the foreground but my God she is a force of strength. When you think back in time about people that leave their mark on your life, like teachers etc. Popi is the one for me who has made a difference.
A great, caring and loving friend!

The March bracelets/βραχιόλι του Μάρτη

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