Monday, February 28, 2011

The next 90 days: Perspectives

Hello again faithful readers - I'm back by popular demand! Well, maybe not - I am back chasing my own brand of hedonism. I am once again searching for my 90 days of sunshine this winter in Crete. I landed back in Greece the end of January and will be here until mid-May. This time, I will be focused on my building project and getting to know my new neighbourhood and seeing if I can fit into the community.
There's lots I want to share with you over the next few months - my quirky insights into packing for 3 months, the joys of transiting through multiple airports in this post 9/11 time, the exquisite flavour of lamb kleftiko cooked the way the gods intended, the exuberant joy of snagging a fat orange off a neighbour's tree in January, or the vibe in Athens when the tourists aren't there.... and more, of course, on the bureaucracy of a foreigner (me) buying land on a Greek island.

But tonight, as I write this, the Mediterranean basin is in turmoil, with governments toppling from Tunisia to Egypt. Crete is just a stone's throw across the Libyan sea. In fact we are closer to Libya here than mainland Europe. Perspective is important. My friends back in Canada are bitching about yet another winter storm; my friends here in Greece are bitching about the economic measure designed to pull them out of the shitter. But tonight.... tonight I shared a taverna table with 8 bewildered Chinese engineers who had just escaped from Libya. The Greeks sent over their big friendly ferry boats to bring them to Crete. 4,500 Chinese nationals landed in Heraklion yesterday. The young people I was sitting with were still reeling from their experiences and waiting for their countrymen to send planes to bring them home. Suddenly the fact that I had to endure a few days of rain when I got here, or my Greek friends had to endure skyrocketing petrol prices seemed pretty insignificant. Tonight it was my job to listen to their stories and act as a buffer between Chinese needs and Greek custom.

Perspective is important to keep - well, in perspective. Tonight these young Chinese engineers weren't fighting for democracy in their homeland - they were escaping a war zone. They weren't poorly paid migrant field workers, rather they were educated professionals working in high level jobs away from home. But, once they get safely home, I wonder what questions they will chew over after their experience of seeing simple peasants fighting for democracy with little more than hunting rifles and kitchen knives.

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