Greece: On Roses, Rocks, Roasts, and Resistance…

I’m looking through my old journals! This is from a trip I took to Greece, years ago. It became a part of an email that I wrote to my family.

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Roses

I stepped off the bus near Parliament, and ended up in the midst of a lunchtime political discussion in Plaka.  The cafe owner gave me water, a sugar covered doughnut, and advice about where to go and with whom a young lady ought not speak.  The men in the cafe – middle aged business men, smokers all – were yelling, laughing, gesturing, in Greek.  The owner apologized to me, “politics, ignite the passions!” (I loved it, I could have watched them all day!)  Around 2p they put out their cigarettes and, still chatting, walked toward their scooters – all in a row, at the cafe rail.

Everyone seems to have a scooter…scratch that…everyone, all 12 million Athenians, seem to have automobiles!  They drive like…Jordanians?  But it’s worse?  I’ll just say they drive like Greeks.

As I sat there, contemplating my central Athens map, the owner picked a fragrant yellow rose from the arbor above my table.  “A rose for a rose,” he said, placing it in my hand. 

Rocks:

Waking yesterday, in my ‘just as I imagined it!’ bedroom, doves cooed.  One was fluffing its feathers in a clay pot on the balcony opposing my window, the other perched on the rail.  I was peckish, so I headed to the street for some cheap suvlaki!  (for those of you who are unfamiliar with suvlaki, it is spit roasted meat, usually pork.  They dress it up with pita, veggies, fried potatoes, sooooooo delicious! kinda like a gyro…but BETTER!)

Shoving my suvlaki into my face, (in a very ladylike way), I walked down the street in no particular direction.  I scandalized some orthodox priests (I was showing shoulders and ankles – they averted their eyes).  I saw a ruin!  So I went there.  When I entered the Roman Agora (which is what the ruins were) the attendant yelled, “Billet! Billet!”  Luckily for her I understand French.  I responded by hauling out my wallet, and my student ID.  She took many looks at my student ID and told me that my entrance was free…still in French! 

So I wandered, saw ruins that were not quite as cool as Greek ruins, I have to say!  I walked some more streets and came upon a fence.  I HAD TO SEE WHAT WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE!  So, I followed the fence to a gate.  There was a large sign all Greek save one phrase: “Admission Free.”  Exactly my price!  In and up I went.  I came to the base of a large marble boulder, nestled in pine and olive trees.  I found an unmarked set of stairs carved into the stone and started to climb them.  They were slippery and not all there, but well worn and tidy.

IMG_0067I sat on the top of the rock for 3 hours.  People came and went.  Quite a lot of them actually, more than those stairs could handle!  I ate melted milk chocolate hobnobs, licked my fingers, and met some doves that literally flew up and landed 4 inches from my hip, glancing at me curiously. A Japanese girl came stumbling up laughing and the doves left. She was good company was well.  I wrote in my journal and stared at the lovely view of the Acropolis, and the city – mountains to sea.

I eventually got up from my perch and headed toward all of the other people on the rock.  It was just like every other tourist sight. There were the couples making out, the elderly people who seemed like the hotel bar was on their mind more than the sights, and the children – constantly driving their parents mad by not appreciating the sights and nearly dying every time they decided to run.

Then I saw… the path.  Stairs, ramps, gravel, all leading to the top of the boulder.  There was also a sign talking about the staircase on the eastern edge “cut into the living rock during the 6th century BC, no longer in use…” So…yep…

Roasts:

I rose from a nap and decided to take a walk.  Ravenous beast that I am, I found a taverna where I ate too much food, for too much money, with too many cats sitting at my feet (which I obviously attracted when I shared my food with them…).  The menu was all in Greek.  The waiter looked put out when I fumbled for my phrasebook.  The roast lamb fell off of the bone, and straight into my belly.  The potatoes, the feta, the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the onions, the olives, the bread…oh dear.  I rolled myself out of the chair hours later… to walk beneath the moon.

and finally, Resistance:

His name was Nomi.  While taking my walk beneath the moon, he was walking ahead of me.  He was handsome, and I fleetingly took note. I just kept walking, didn’t say a word.  Suddenly, he was beside me, asking me questions, telling me about himself.  Then he said, “You have a very simple face!”  I laughed, and said I didn’t understand.  He explained, very poorly that he was surprised because he thought all Americans painted their faces, and had complicated faces.  He said that mine was simple like the water or the stars.

We chatted for a while longer. He asked if he could buy me wine or juice?  I said “no.”  He tried to kiss my cheek and said, “May I kiss your lips.”  I said, “No, thank you!”  He grabbed my hand, placed it over his heart and said, “May I give you my phone number?”  Again I said, “No, but thank you.”  He looked at me for a while – didn’t let go of my hand.  He finally said, “Someday, perhaps we meet again.  I know that simple faces deserve closer looking than the complicated.”

I got my hand back, and walked away.  It was easy to smile, with my simple face…

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