in Greece 2015

Hot, calm and blue

  

A typical sign for a Chania bus stop.

το μέλλον (toh MEL-lohn) – n.: the future

CHANIA, Tuesday, July 7 — It is hot, calm and blue here. Which could describe the physical environment a tourist encounters in Crete, or the political mood of both Greece and Europe. 

Despite the clear majority of Greeks rejecting the Eurozone’s austerity, the EZ is not budging. The banks in Greece are still closed and now will be through Thursday. There are stories every day of pensioners breaking down in tears in front of ATMs because there’s a shortage of €20s and they can’t even get their daily €60.  Greece  has become Schrödinger’s cat: both alive and dead until someone opens the box marked “the future.”

You can’t see it elsewhere, though. Everything else is running smoothly. Food is plentiful; prices are cheap. I pay more for dishes in Bloomington than I do in Chania. (Food pictures tomorrow.) I was able to buy a burner phone from a Vodafone storefront with a credit card today. Maybe I’m insulated from the trouble because I’m in a town with a lot of tourism, but it’s a pretty big town, and I’m not really spending time in the tourist areas; I don’t think so.

There’s as much information being crammed into my head as there is flying across the European Parliament session in Strasbourg. My intensive Greek lessons are three hours every morning. It’s exhausting, but now I turn on EPT and am beginning to follow the constant news coverage of the crisis without too much trouble. If I can make that kind of progress, Europe certainly can. 

PS: I’ve always been amused by the way Greeks transliterate non-Greek names. Certain phonemes just don’t exist in standard modern Greek. The letter “B”, for example, is simulated as “MP”; the letter D is “NT”. Jean-Claude Juncker becomes “Zan Klont Giounker”. There are an awful lot of these transliterations on Greek TV these days. My favorite has to be Βόλφγκανγκ Σόϊμπλε. If you want a giggle, let me know and I’ll transliterate your name into Greek for you. 

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