Aegina Home & Living - Living in Aegina

 

 

 


LIVING IN AEGINA

What is it REALLY like to live in Aegina?

 

                                                           LIVING
 

LIVING                                                                      NOVEMBER 2012                      

OLD HABITS DIE HARD

I am bereft. Two important factors in my life have disappeared. Just as the economic crisis seemed to roll in over night and hit us on the heads with a hammer, so it seems the economic tsunami has sucked out the Agios Nektarios boat and along with it the Athens News. The two were a collocation that made my Fridays enjoyable, for this was the day when I’d lug a cumbersome heavy weight from Lambraki to the port and all in the name of love for our children

On leaving our apartment at 08.00 hours, I’d have exactly 20 minutes to get to the port. I would literally trot, dragging behind me a suitcase full of books and in mule like fashion, I would sling a sports bag across my front containing a week-load of our teenagers’ dirty washing.

The journey to the boat was always the same: I’d firstly pass the local councillors busy smoking, arguing and playing backgammon. We never once exchanged words in 6 years but they always seemed to stare in awe at the rushing, stressed Xeni woman, suitcase clicking, sports bag bouncing. I’d turn right at the cake shop and wave to the owner if I saw her. (She sells the most amazing lemon meringue pies and home –baked apple tarts, both of which are sold in metal dishes, perfect kitchen utensils and each for 10 Euro)

Up the hill, past the bakery smelling as always of yeast and vanilla, past the students nonchantly making their way to the university. Almost crush their toes…oops watch it! , here comes that mad bag lady again!

Trying to urgently cross the first main road but there was always a car parked on the path, the owner of cheaply framed gaudy pictures easing the offload of his pavement gallery.

Once crossed, my journey proceeded downhill, past the shop selling saucepans and plates. Greek coffee attire hanging from the doorway, aluminium and copper, wooden pestles and mortars…down down, my suitcase continuously knocking my heels. I’d cross another road, slightly easier as it was traffic light controlled, past the knitting shops with balls of wool of every colour and shade, past the private car park where the same young attendant sits in his sentry box smoking his Marlboroughs. Well groomed but utterly bored, he’d vacantly stare whilst I breathlessly glanced at the clock behind his head..08.12 on a good day, 08.15 on a bad one.

Turning left and faced with the most challenging part of the journey for this is where the early morning shoppers would mill around, gazing at herbs and selecting vegetables to accompany the fresh fish they’d bought at the fish market. The elderly shoppers out in force with their shopping trolleys ambling behind them.. No need to hurry, they exchange words with each other; their trolleys parked on the rickety paths, glistening with water and fish oil.. they’d reluctantly move to make room for me, irritated by the rushing xeni, ‘always rushing that one, we see her every Friday’ they probably clucked to each other I, in turn would rush, more urgently trying to weave my way around the stray slithers of fish flesh and globs of expectorated sputum produced by the seasoned smokers.

The Agios Nektarios, a symbol of security and the baton holder to the next part of my journey. 08.20 written in huge pale blue numbers reminds me of its intention to leave…and it will not wait1

I would stop at the last yellow kiosk and breathlessly hand over a sweaty 2 Euro coin that had been clutched painfully in my palm for more than 15 minutes. The Pakistani working there would smile and in clipped English, say’ ‘Good Morning madam, the Athens News’ yes? He’d pop out of his kiosk, pulls the newspaper from a peg and hand it to me, knowing there’d be no time to exchange pleasantries. I’d thrust it into my suitcase pocket and noticing the crossing light man is green, I’d break into an aching run to reach the safety of the concrete island separating me from the roaring cars that madly speed in from every direction. The final challenge is the road from the island to the port. The pedestrian traffic light doesn’t work and hasn’t done for years, so getting across requires skill and intelligence as well as a degree of risk.

However, after years of practice, I have had this down to a fine art. The trick…wait for a momentary change of traffic light to red and in that brief millisecond, close your eyes, head cocked to the left and nod rhythmically (the Greek thank you). Hold your right hand up assertively, policeman style to indicate that the driver is to slow down, stride across purposefully and hope for the best!

In the port, I’d pass the toothless Egyptian selling koulourakia who’d smile, yell ‘kali mera kyria’ (good day) and reassure me that I would not miss the boat. A good man, in the past, occasions when I actually had missed the boat, he would baby-sit my luggage whilst I visited a kafeneio for a coffee and a rest.

The staff of the Agios Nektarios are now like my family. They allowed me the privilege of buying my ticket on board (less stress) and the bar staff knew exactly how I liked my cappuccino…boiling hot, extra shot of coffee, no sugar and cinnamon on top. I would then sink into my seat, the one with broken cushion springs, second on the right in the rear saloon.

The Athens News spread out on the table in front of me. I’d smirk at the readers’ letters and read with interest the current affairs learn new Greek recipes and plan my TV viewing…..and for one hour and twenty minutes, I would be left alone, no demands to meet, floating in blissful solitude.

 

Life will never be the same again!

                                 

Alison Lorentzos                                                             copyright 2012

 

 

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