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Tennis, tavernas, teachers and turkeys

December 12, 2011

One of the major questions I have been asked since I stopped paid employment is ‘what do you do with your time’?  I have always had an answer for this and the activities have generally fitted into the categories of family and friends, tennis, pubs, travel, canal boating, reading and generally being up for whatever opportunity is around. Being active and busy has always quite important to me although give me a bit of sun and I’m happy just soaking it up. 

But now I’m not near Kirkcudbright tennis club or the ‘Masonic’ or family and friends, how am I going to spend my time?  For the the first few days I lay in the sun, marvelled at the view from our cottage, read an Isla Dewar book at great speed, drank retsina and had the odd trip into the supermarket.  And kept thinking how lucky I was.  But on Saturday, the tiredness had worn off and John and I began to think of things that we might do.   Oh dear!!!! 

On Saturday, we were invited by Inge and Michaelis, who own the cottage, to have a coffee in Ierapetra and meet their friends.  And we met Hans and Hanneke, a Dutch couple, who live very close by and who moved here 3 years ago from Holland.  They were very positive about life here and know lots of walks and can speak good English.  The most important information they had though was that they knew a tennis club just outside of Ierapetra, on the way to Ferma where we live.  And they might be persuaded to play tennis.  I did bring two rackets with me and some balls so on the way back here we stopped off at the tennis court which, unlike Kirkcudbright, is green in colour.  So possibilities of tennis are emerging. 

While the Greeks apparently eat pork for Christmas we felt we needed to track down a turkey.  We have found one in the local Lidl’s which is the only foreign shop we have seen so far (although I gather there is Marks and Spencers in Heraklion). But we have yet to talk to the butcher in Ferma which may not lead us to a turkey but will certainly produce some goat, which will be a great treat.

We have been learning the Greek alphabet with some enthusiasm and listening to our tapes as we are expecting a phone call from our Greek tutor, Niko, on Monday and want show our enthusiasm , given our ineptitude in the language at this stage.  But living for a period of time here is going to help as we are faced everyday with the challenge of communication and understanding in Greek. 

In the evening we bravely set out to a local taverna, Katerina’s.  Most taverna’s are closed because there are few tourists around but we hoped this one would be open for food.  It was not an auspicious start because despite the fact that there were clearly men inside drinking, the notice on the door said ‘closed’.  But someone came and let us in and turned the notice to ‘open’.  We sat down but nobody came near us for ages.  At this stage we felt decidely uncomfortable and wished we could be in the comfort of the Masonic with Brenda knowing exactly what drink you want immediately you set foot in the pub.  But we persevered and a man finally came over, was quite friendly and we ordered a beer. In fact what came was two raki’s, some cucumber and some olives.  Maybe the Greek lessons are more of a priority than we thought!  He clearly indicated though that the rakis was on the house which was great from our point of view! The others in the pub, all men, gave us the odd smile but they generally carried on the drinking and chatting as if we were not there. Finally we asked for beer again and a whole ‘meze’ of food arrived with them, including liver, something like hummus and chips.  Wonderful.  We went home to leftovers but felt it had been worth going to the taverna!

So things are moving along.  We have met some people, we are eating well (although the time spent organising it, is definitely longer than popping out to Tesco’s or to the Co-op.), I have found a tennis court and we are devoting time to learning Greek.   John is identifying some walks, I am reading Dilys Powell’s archaelogical book ‘The Villa  Ariadne’, kindly given to me by my friend Kate, which is a start on reading about Crete.  We have swum in the sea, cool but nice and there was no shivering when you came out as the temperature of the air was well into the 20’s. 

Oh and by the way, I have learned from my friend Auriol in Namibia that the Greek for cheers is ‘eviva’ – I still need to sort out how you get the Greek alphabet on the computer!




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