Our home in the southern Athens is close to the mountains and minutes from the beach, which many believe is an envious location. I’m not convinced.
Sure, I like the sight of trees from my window, the walking trail and the open fields next door where I can hear “the nightbird” (gionis) birp all night. But as it looks more like summer, our area is choked with more traffic, more pulsing music at all hours and more bugs.
Today was a very buggy and birdy type day. After getting only disturbed sleep from another noisy night, I opened sliding doors to both the front and back balconies to get a cross draft. Within hours, a bird had flown into the house because (of course) there are no screen doors. As it flapped furiously, I cursed the fact I couldn’t pass this task to my Greek partner and chased it around the house with hopes I could return it safely outside again. Done.
I go into the kitchen, and a green bean on the counter starts moving — it’s a hoppity green grasshopper. How it got in, I don’t know since the window wasn’t open. I put a Tupperware bowl over him and left a note for the man of the house to take him outside. He didn’t, as he thought it would be amusing if I dealt with that too. Fine. I slip a piece of paper under the bowl and release him outside, and (strangely) a man in NY who calls me ‘grasshoppa’ sends me an email after that.
My Greek counterpart had the idea of taking a drive along the beach and stopping at a no-name taverna to get something to eat for a change of pace, but within minutes we encountered roads choked with traffic and turned back. Apparently everyone had the same idea.
Arriving home, we both smack at a yellow jacket before I’m told my swatting duties are not needed, the door is closed and the incident is over…or so it seems. After it was flattened and squashed into a napkin, I found he’d crawled out of the garbage can and was struggling for life on the kitchen floor. Admirable. That’s what my friend Niko calls, “duro, duro.”
I happily took a phone call from friends G and C visiting from Sweden. I was supposed to meet them on Rhodes sometime during their two weeks but honestly couldn’t see spending more than a month’s wages on a few days within Greece when I can get better value by visiting them in Stockholm instead. Anyway, I need a break from Greece after being here continuously for two years. It turned out fine since they were busy doing the ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ tour with three young children, entertaining relatives who joined them for a portion of their vacation, and visiting several villages. They depart exhausted, needing a vacation to recover from their vacation.
I love talking to them because they spent a year on sabbatical in Greece during my first year here, so we share a common history of learning Greek, dealing with dysfunctional landlords, scaring away kamaki and delighting in old yellow trolleys that jerked and stalled. They also helped me move out of my cockroach house in Plaka at 6:00 one morning. We had a good laugh about that tonight.
Hours later, I went into the bathroom we just cleaned yesterday and what was on the shower wall? A cockroach the size of a yam. Blah! Well, at least it didn’t crawl over my face (see, “Monday morning“). No Tupperware, no releasing into the wild, just a good old-fashioned smack with a flip flop and off to the eternal nap!
Apparently, my critter karma is fully zen. Kala ohm!