submitted by Anna Cominos on 16.08.2008
On the day after the most-popular Greek-holiday, the Panayia’s (the dormition of the Virgin) celebration, Kythera feels like the main attraction of a bizarre David Copperfield illusion. ‘They’ (the long awaited tourists) have arrived, reports from a creditable source says that both ships, the Pegasus (the temporary Mirtidiotissa replacement) and the Porfyrousa (the much-anticipated Peloponese connection) as well as the daily airplanes are arriving packed…….so Where Is Wally?
The island is relatively full, here at Active Rent-a-Car, all our vehicles are on the road and the asking price of hotel rooms still remains high from (65-150 euros) but it feels like Easter-time, not like Panayia’s.
A very good hard working childhood friend of mine who tosses a mean hamburger, lets call her Maria, told me recently things are worse business-wise than winter. And you can feel the oddness everywhere. Local business people aren’t even complaining anymore, they are too busy racing ‘round’ to make their loan repayments…. it’s their bored staff who are crying foul. ‘They’ are definitely here….. ‘they’ have been sighted. Ten days ago, more than 2000 people filled the massive plateia (village square) of Fratsia to see Greece’s Bruce Springsteen – Vasili Papakonstantinou perform live….. ok so half may have been locals. Another 2000 turned out last Saturday night for the much-anticipated Mitata Wine-Festival…… even though it was a foggy, windy night.
Is Kythera popularity on the decrease, lets remember the spike in tourism follows the island being featured in 2 high-rating television serials, countless cooking, travel shows, films and tv ads over the last 10 years. Or just perhaps the Kytherians have priced themselves out of the travel market????
Kytherians may have changed superficially, (you don’t see many togas in Paliopoli these days) and the way we communicate in 2008 may appear from another world but life has fundamentally remained the same for eons. For thousands of years Kythera has energetically moved in cycles. In winter we pick olives …..we then collect wood…..plant winter crops……..we then fast…..then feast…..plant summer crops…..summer visitors arrive for 6 weeks… we pack down…..prepare for olives….pick olives and so on and so on. This current state of cyclical uncertainty kind of makes you feel ‘touristically’ nauseous, like you have skipped an necessary dance-step or have brain-freeze and cannot for the life of you spell an obvious phrase like…..Greenhouse Effect.
But although some of the current turmoil was foreseeable with the lack of shipping connections, the good news is the Recycle Bins have arrived and are in place for take-off and in one the wackiest public office promotions I have ever witnessed (and I lived in Frank Sartor’s electorate in Sydney), the Mayor took one of the brand-new spanking motherships of waste trucks for a casual drive waving to voters and tourists alike. (Now tell me things aren’t weird here).
At a recent dinner of influential Kytherian-Australians, the Mayor did a backflip worthy of Olympic Gold when he fervently impressed upon the dinner that the windmills will NOT go ahead and if in the slim chance they do-he will directly inform the Kytherians of the Diaspora…….Let’s keep him to his word.
The future of the affectionately named rustbucket, the Mirtidiotissa is still up in the air.
Some say it is being repaired at the Elefsina ship-yards and will be back in operation as early as September. Others are opposed to it due to safety questions……Perhaps it could be the beginning of a coral reef just off Chalkos or even the mascot of Kythera’s Recycling programme.
On a personal note I am laying low as my folks Matina (nee Zantiotis) and Nick Cominos have just arrived for three months. Although they are jet-lagged, a string extended family meals roll-out daily with fresh fasolia (beans), vlita (greens), psaria (fish), tyri (cheese) ending with locally picked/stolen, sika (figs), stafilia (grapes) and my favourite nourishment, village stories from their childhoods. It is at these long afternoons of breaking of bread and listening attentively to the often hilarious exploits of horiates (villagers) that I sense Ola Ine Entaxi (its all Ok!)
Not that I will be lying low until ‘they’ leave. No Sireee! I am one of the guest speakers at the 3rd Kytheriasmos Symposium to be held on the island from 20-24 August, giving an eyewitness account/dissing the dirt on what it is like to live on Kythera year round. And if that is not enough, respected actor Teena Papadopoulos and I grace/hijack the stage of the impressive Zeidoros Cultural Centre in Kapsali as part of the Mediterranean Music and Theatre Festival for a one-off comedy performance, EVREDICKIS DO TSIRIGO! Channeling our alter-egos, Australo-Kytherian first cousins Big Evredicki & Little Evredicki, Kytherian local issues will get a hilarious work over. For more info log onto www.zeidoros.gr
Teacher, journalist, poet and author, Sydney NSW Australia
‘Andrew’ Anargyros Vretos Fatseas
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