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Ellada I Miss You Already

I love Greece again.

This is a good thing and a bad thing. Good because it means I will look forward to coming back and bad because I leave tomorrow.

So what could have happened in the last 24 hours that would make me go from desperate to leave to not wanting to. Well first of all last night we went to dinner at the home of George the Famous Taxi Driver. Loula, his wife fixed a fantastic meal of roast goat and the world's best roast potatoes, pastitsio, yida (beef soup), macaronitopita (just like it sounds, a macaroni pita) and so much other stuff that 18 hours later I am still full. All the sons were there, Billy (of Billy's Bus Tours), Dennis (of Dennis' Limousine) and the youngest son Nikos whose job it is to answer e-mail, as well as two American cousins. During and after dinner we had a spirited conversation about the state of Greece while on TV there was a new program that showed streets in Pireaus flooded because the garbage from the strike had blocked the drains. A perfect illustration of how in Greece one problem leads to another and another and another. It was so great to see the brothers interacting, agreeing and disagreeing, about what should be done and whose fault it is that things are so bad. (Actually no disagreement there: The Government)

We came home about 11pm, very early for us, and went to bed. I woke up at about 6 as I often do, thinking very clearly about the events of the day and realized that Andrea had failed to heed the advice of a seasoned traveler, me and was walking around Athens with lots of money and important papers in her purse. She also took a short cut through an alley which gave the Africans the opportunity to grab the purse and though I called it a mugging it was really a purse snatching that went awry because she failed to let go since she knew what was in it and the stresss it would cause her father. Not the loss of money but the papers and the taftotita (ID card). The importance of the money was even below the loss of the cell phone which was easily replaced, along with her old number and the units she had left. And maybe the Africans used the money to go home to their families. Andrea admitted she was surprised it was Africans, who are not known for stealing. But maybe they were too hungry and she was too tempting a target.

Then this morning the phone rang and it was Andrea's father telling her that one of the shops on Eptanisou street had found his taftotita and all the papers and she sent me down to pick them up. I was really pleased and tried to let the guy know, though I did not give him a reward or anything and maybe he was disappointed especially since in this economy every little bit helps. I told him I liked his store though because we have shopped here before. It is a Romanian Deli at 26 Eptanisou if you know the area and want some nice sausages and pickled fish and stuff. Maybe Andrea's father will go visit him and give him something for his troubles.

So everyone is happy. Andy got his papers and ID. Andrea is getting a new phone and does not have to spend another day on line at the bank or go back to the police station. And the Africans have more money than they dreamed of, unless of course the bank teller was in on it, in which case they knew how much she had and just followed her around until they found the opportunity. In fact just yesterday they caught these guys who robbed the Alpha Bank at the airport and one of the guys was a teller at the bank. And in another example of life imitating film, one of our favorite Greek movies is Renos Haralambedes' The Heart of the Beast' about a bank robbery that was also an inside job(Buy it if you can find it). So maybe we just created our own reality. But the point is that this is how Greece is. Something bad happens and something good comes of it. For every selfish jerk there is someone who cares enough to be helpful to strangers.

Anyway the sun is shining and it is my last full day in Greece and even though yesterday I was ready to say goodbye forever, or at least until they fixed this country, now I am going to go out to Fokionos, have a coffee and watch people while I figure out what to do with the rest of my life if Greece's society collapses.

Have a nice day.

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