GREECE: ON YACHT ON ISLANDS
If a lesson can be learned from Greek mythology, full of touchy gods and arrogant heroes, this is the only thing: it is important to have powerful patrons in life. Therefore, when in 1981 the European Economic Community accepted Greece into its membership and began distributing to its cities welcome bonuses for painting facades and restoration of monasteries, the country sighed with relief: now you can live. Fast tourist drachma ousted the long agricultural drachma, the goats stopped milking, and the olives reap. After all, the European Union demands many new victims from among the local types of cheese and endemic varieties of vegetables.
On the islands of which the country consists of 20 percent, life, like rainwater, gradually flowed from rocky peaks to the edge of the sea – English pensioners, molding from their mists, come to spend their vacation budget. The houses of the first line were painted in cheerful colors just for their eyes, umbrellas with deck chairs in the lost coves were installed for their bodies, comfortable moorings were arranged for their yachts. Caught under the wing of a powerful geopolitical organism, Greece easily got used to the proposed images of the “cradle of European civilization” and “all-union health resort.”
But the ancient gods are fickle in sympathy. The golden rain was replaced by the feathers of the Stimfali bird. For six years, Greece has been on the verge of default, and in the summer of 2015 it almost passed. Only the multibillion-dollar financial assistance of the European Union saved her from the sale in favor of creditors. Now the main concern of the country is to get off the subsidized needle and start making money, and not just accept it. Which, of course, badly correlates with her deeply patriarchal female essence.
In order not to face social absurdities – there are a lot of them in the life of a bankrupt country – one should prefer traveling on a yacht. She will sail between the islands, barely touching their glossy side – no longer than during the excursion and lunch. A dinner in the Greek port with its dried octopuses hanging on a rope like freshly washed clothes cannot disappoint. Like a tour: on every island there is, if not, the sanctuary of Asclepius and not the castle of the Knights Hospitallers, then at least the petrified nymph, who did not want to surrender to the elderly voluptuary god. And as soon as modernity begins to be too obsessive to climb into the lens, the yacht will take travelers to watch the sunset. Sunsets in the Aegean Sea – a value that does not know the default from the very dawn of history. We sail
from Rhodes to Halki in a happy peace: in Greece, everything is still there.
The mountainous slopes of Halki were dug in “funnels”: the peasants of former times were surveying their gardens and pastures with cobblestone hedges. For half a century of desolation, these 1.5 meter fences lost in height and clarity of lines, and now from panoramic cliffs they look like alien figures, or on the circumference of huge soap bubbles that have just burst.
The island’s mayor, Michael Patros, still remembers the time when the gardens looked from afar like thick bunches of fruit trees tied up with rubber bands on fences. At that time, three hairdressers worked on the island, seven children in families, donkeys cracked wheat in aloni, arenas with a rocky bottom, and there were so many almonds that they squeezed milk for a cool drink. The stories of the Greeks often begin with similar fairy tales. You will clarify the chronology – and it turns out that the golden age ended quite recently, in the early 1980s. True, it immediately became clear that there was almost no money in the “golden age”, as there was no fresh water on most islands, and trade was often reduced to barter. Having learned this, it is easy to excuse the Greeks, who so blindly dived into the proposed capitalism, that now they can not swim out.
“I will know that I lived political life in vain if I can eat local, Halki tomatoes in retirement,” says Mayor Patros. To fulfill this dream, he installed a water desalination station two years ago, making his island independent of the daily ferry from Rhodes. A year ago, he significantly reduced the cost of treated non-potable water, “so that they begin to water at least something.”
But young people are in no hurry to return to “aloni”. Agriculture on the islands has long become a winter hobby of the travel sector workers. As befits a hobby, it does not make money, but eats it.
From Palio Chorio, or Old Village, the last inhabitant left in 1963. While the coast already lived in the second half of the twentieth century, there was no electricity in the mountain villages and the toilet was a hole in the ground. Today, abandoned houses have almost merged with the landscape, defiantly right angle of the window aperture points to their man-made nature. There are many such ghost villages on the Dodecanese islands, and their desolation does not look strange – it is, in general, quite picturesque, but the fact that churches with the freshest whitewash on the walls and barely dried out cobalt or kraplak on the domes stick out in the middle of the settlements.