My head is a little clearer now, so I can tell you what a lovely time we had on Tuesday evening. Tuesday was Neil’s birthday, the anniversary of our CP and also the anniversary of the day we arrived to live on Symi 18 years ago. A lot has happened since then, what with having a business, making a film, writing books, meeting so many people, seeing some come and go and some come and stay. One of the nicest things about living in a small place like this is seeing children grow up. It might also be a reminder that you’re not getting any younger, but it occurs to me from time to time that the couple getting married were only five when I first met them, or the men repairing a roof down the road used to come into the shop for their school photos. What’s also interesting to observe are the groups of children who play in the square. Over the years, I’ve seen the groups change, the ‘posse’ as my godson calls them. The children once on scooters and bikes are now watching over their own children who are a new generation on scooters and bikes. The fun they’re having is the same, they play the same games, but the faces are different.
Another thing… Visitors who come each year and have done for longer than I’ve been here. It’s good to hear their stories of the past, how it was when the ferry docked at Pedi and day-trippers had to walk over the hill to Yialos, or how a truck trip to Panormitis was over an unmade road. That’s something I’ve done. When I first walked there is 1996, the road had been blasted out but was mainly small rubble. I think, then, it ran out at Ag Konstantinos where the army firing range used to be, or maybe still is. Those were the days when there were truck trips, four around-the-island boats, at least two more eateries in Pedi than there are now, and the bank was where there’s now a giros and noddle bar.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is the bonhomie, the philoxenia, which is uniquely Greek, the warm welcomes and sad farewells. Even in this day and age, such things are as evident as they have always been. Even the bureaucracy involved in, say, receiving a residency permit or changing a driving license seems to have been streamlined from something the size of Titanic to something the size of the Blue Star Chios. We didn’t have a telephone for the first two years, relying on Yiannis at the old Roloi bar for checking our emails when his phone wasn’t cut off, and then running the internet at 56 kbps. Now, we have it at home running at 42 Mbps (which is a lot faster, if you’re not sure what a kb and an mb are), and I only need to go to the bank once a year for my ‘pink slips’ to prove my income. Even they are now white and instantly printed rather than searched for in a filing cabinet. Ah, progress.
Anyway, that ramble was to make up for the lack of chat yesterday, and I have no idea where it came from or what it has to do with the photos, but there you go. And here I go until tomorrow, and as I leave I shall wish you kalo taxithi, or, as we say in English, bon voyage.