Traveling now by bus from Thessaloniki to Athens and parts south for Easter. Unfortunately most of the first kilometers were marred by a National Highway lined with tall trees both sides. Bad idea!
Suddenly, we came face-to-face with Mt. Olympus -- a place that looms larger than life in my own history...From the time when those glorious peaks were my view every day from the window of my small house at the Girls School. To the time when my one and only try at climbing her was thwarted near the top by a General Mobilization vs. Turkey in July, 1974. News (accompanied by marshall music) from a transistor radio made us turn tail and literally run down the mountain. My feet in cheap work boots were totally killing me. And in Litohoro, Yiayias swathed in black were crying and carrying on as their grandsons boarded buses to report for duty. Mind-boggling.
But I digress, and have turned my attention away from a window full of mezmorIzing scenes: charming villages, a rolling patchwork of farm fields/orchards, soldier-straight cypress trees, beckoning hills, half-hidden streams and a smorgasbord of animal vignettes. Now and again I see water and islands and am ashamed to say I'm not sure where we are...
Never mind. In my eyes it's all one: ELLADHA, the most beautiful place on earth.
And, of course, hearty olive trees everywhere -- the olives often going to a local oil press, where they keep some of the oil as payment. Families with 50 -100 trees can usually get at least a year's worth -- and believe me, they put olive oil in/on everything! -- plus some to sell to neighbors. But such sales are down. Most people can't afford to buy a large can anymore and rely on "olive oil" bought in smaller amounts from the supermarket: a very serious sign of the times.
Commercial buildings also dot the landscape from John Deere tractor dealers to Macaronia Misko makers. Manufacturing has largely disappeared, and there are too many abandoned buildings and homes that were never finished -- depressing memorials to family dreams that came true for awhile with Greece's entry in the Common Market...and were then buried with nary a eulogy in the years following the 2008 Crash. Was that a normal economic consequence or was it manslaughter?
Seriously: Why, when everywhere you turn here in Greece there are amazing things that so many people spend good money to come see and experience. Why, do over 1/2 Greeks try to live on 600 Euros a month or less and so many kids go to school hungry? Greece is treasure trove of unparalled beauty and important history, yet Greeks can't get by!
(Don't talk to me about financial missteps, crooked politicians, bad loans, back taxes, etc. Why is the suffering of the Greek people even acceptable in 2016?)
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