It has been another busy month here in paradise. It started with the Referendum on the bailout ‘offer’ from the EU that never was and ended with a heatwave, with lots happening in between.
The Referendum and subsequent negotiations with the EU reminded me somewhat of the Scottish Referendum last year, in that whilst the latter was ‘lost’, the losers sort of ‘won’ while in Greece, the result was different but again, the losers ‘won’! We are still trying to make sense of it all and it is hard to know whether Alexis Tsipras simply ‘bottled it’ or realised that doing any deal was better than ‘Grexit’. What is clear is that for a variety of reasons, most Greeks, even though they voted ‘No’ did not and do not want to leave the euro, so I have reached the conclusion that Tsipras being essentially a canny politician, did the only thing a politician can do and reached a pragmatic deal with the creditors, which kept the bulk of his Party together, the Opposition on side and his support among the population at large, at record levels.
Of course, our one-time super hero, Yanis Varoufakis, the now ex-Finance Minister was and remains implacably opposed but he is essentially an economist and while he is almost certainly correct in his analysis of Greece’s economic woes and how the ‘new deal’ with Europe will fail to help, his proposals were never going to find favour with the likes of Schauble and Dijsselbloem. So, we live in hope that the IMF and perhaps the Americans can put enough pressure over time on the EU and in particular, on the German Govenment, to cut the level of Greek debt either by means of longer repayment periods or a straight ‘haircut’.
In the meantime, the people here are hurting, especially the poor and elderly. We have direct evidence of this because we were talking to one of our neighbours a week or so ago about these very issues (in Greek of course!) and she showed us how much money she had in her purse – just a few coppers. That night, she and her husband were eating potatoes and onions and we felt very guilty as northern Europeans, while our pork chops sizzled on the barbecue! Her husband worked for forty three years in a local quarry and his small pension has been cut by more than a third. They can see no hope for improvement as Schauble and Dijsselbloem look for still more cuts. The Greek debt crisis was not caused by our neighbours and it is hard to see how they ever benefited and yet they pay, while the ‘guilty’ bankers and ex-politicians enjoy their ill-gotten gains abroad.
Meanwhile the weather here has warmed up considerably. Indeed, as I write this, we have had three continuous days with temperatures (in the shade) in excess of 30C, so officially we have a heatwave (ένας καύσωνας), although in fact we have had very hot weather for most of July! This means that not only do we swim frequently, we also spend as much time outside of the house as possible and avoid cooking inside when feasible. So the cheap barbecue which I bought last year has come into its own, with barbecued veg, Canadian style a special favourite closely followed by baked potatoes with rosemary and a fantastic chicken recipe I found on the internet. In addition of course, there are the usual sausages, burgers and pork steaks. Somehow, cooking seems not to be a chore when done outside with a nice cool Fix (Greek beer)!
Our latest visitors were Sandy and Fiona from Edinburgh who were with us for a week earlier in the month. I have known Fiona through the Labour party since our earliest days in the North East of Scotland and it was good to catch up on the news, gossip and to repay in small measure the generous hospitality which we always enjoy when we stay with them in Edinburgh. They fitted in to our lifestyle here very smoothly, enjoyed the swimming and we managed to fit in a few trips, including Spinalonga.
After we dropped them in Heraklion, where they stayed on for a few days, we took ourselves off for a short break to the south coast to stay at a beach-side taverna at a small place called Triopetra. We often refer jokingly to Kavousi as paradise but this place really is a contender. Our room was just across the road from a beautiful beach and next door to the Απανεμιά Ταβέρνα which is run by a delightful family and staffed by very amusing waiters who really make life such a joy.
We stayed three nights and never went near the car. We found a quiet beach a short walk way, where we were virtually alone, so the tans were toned up and dare I say it, we went skinny dipping in the beautiful clear blue sea!
Can life get any better?
However, it was over all too soon but with batteries refreshed and bodies beautiful, we returned to Kavousi at the weekend to cope with the soaring temperatures and a very hot house.
Perhaps we do need to think about air conditioning after all?