Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday Kosta had two appointments. The first appointment was at the courthouse and there was no parking within a mile so I assumed my post. The appointment lasted about a half hour and I didn't have to move the car so I was relieved. The next appointment was in the center of the city at a bank. At first, Kosta wanted to park on the sidewalk across the street from the bank. He informed me that he'd parked the car there before without incident. I wasn't going to be a part of it so I made him move the car off of the sidewalk and double park. For those of you who aren't familiar with the way things work here-parking half of your car on the sidewalk or sometimes completely on the sidewalk is quite common since the streets are so narrow and/or as I mentioned before, there is no parking available where it's technically allowed. So, there I was at my post reading a magazine and listening to my Jennifer Lopez CD when all of a sudden a bus came up behind me and the driver was sitting on the horn! He was cussing me out like you wouldn't believe so I drove the car forward. That didn't give him enough room to pass so I turned the corner. He was still behind me so I kept driving. The bus finally turned on to another street when I realized that I didn't have a clue as to where I was going. Oh crap. I am not familiar with Thessaloniki at all. I don't have a mobile phone yet, I don't know Kosta's number on his by heart and I didn't really look at the name of the bank that he went into. I started to tremble. I hadn't been this scared since I lost Foti in the airport in Munich. I was trying to remain calm so that I wouldn't really lose myself but it wasn't working, I was trembling and almost went into full panic mode. I turned onto a side street which, luckily, was a dead end. I sat there for a minute to piece myself back together when saw an Asian woman cross the street. I though that she'd speak English for sure and that I'd find my way back to where I started. Well, she didn't even look at me. That's another thing about being in a big city like Thessaloniki, nobody hears you. They have to hear you before they can help you, but how can they help someone that didn't even know where she started out to begin with? That's what I thought immediately after she didn't respond. What the heck was I going to ask her, " ah, I lost my husband, do you know where he is?" . Or how about, " I was parked near a bank in the center of the city with a blue sign can you help me?".
As I sat in the car trying to decide what to do I remembered that Kosta had pointed out a statue of a man on a horse, King George or someone and that the bank was on the street right behind it. OK, so now I had something to go on. I turned back on to the very busy street and kept driving forward. I decided that I was going to try to make a circle out of my journey so I only turned right. I kept driving until I found Ippocratus, one of the city's main streets. I turned right. I was driving so slowly that everyone that passed cursed at me but it didn't matter, I needed to look at everything. After about 5 minutes I saw the statue but missed the first turn that I would've need to take so I decided to just take the next one. As I was trying to look for the bank I saw my husband walking down the street. He looked worried and said, " Chica, where have you been?" I burst into tears and told him what happened. He was very supportive and started talking about how we should find a landmark to meet at and getting me a mobile phone soon. He offered to stop at Starbucks for a little coffee so that I might down. As we drove away from Starbucks he figured that I was calm enough for him to say, " you should have just let me park on the sidewalk, then you wouldn't have gotten lost." I guess that I had that coming. After all this is Greece, anything goes here...BUT it's still not right to park on a sidewalk!!
Monday, September 10, 2007
Kosta is great at bringing in an octopus or two but he hasn't all summer. So today he went in the water with his spear gun and promised a catch. He was only in the water for about 45 minutes when he emerged like Poseidon with an octopus on his spear...only he was wearing a mask and snorkel.
Foti was so excited because he hasn't witnessed his Daddy's great skill until today nor has he touched a real octopus before. Izabella wanted to hold it so of course, the two of them were fighting over the thing. I took a lot of pictures today and I wish that I could share them. I promise that I'll post a picture or two as soon as I get the chance.
With a native emerging from the sea with an octopus on his spear comes the flurry of tourists running over with their cameras and kids. We laugh because it happens every time and although it's funny we love to share the experience with people who've never witnessed it before. Some men from Serbia were standing by in their Speedos checking out Kosta's spear gun. I noticed how their stance turned super macho when asking questions and looking at the spear. And then there was a young woman who literally ran over to where we were with her camera phone. She was snapping away and just all a flutter. I can only wonder who she'll send her photos to. As I mentioned, I was taking pictures too and I took pictures of our audience.
Kosta took the octopus back into the water to pull out the eyes and the tooth and when he showed the tooth to the Serbian men their chest elevated some more and started a discussion that I couldn't comprehend. I can only imagine. After that, Kosta told me that he was going to find another one and it was my job to tenderize the octopus.
Tenderizing the octopus means that it has to be slammed against a rock about 100 times. Actually the process goes like this...
Slam the octopus against the rock 10 times,
Take it back to the water to rinse it,
Bring it back to the rock to and rub it around until a foamy liquid appears,
Slam the octopus against the rock 10 times,
Take it back to the water to rinse it,
Bring it back to the rock to rub it around until a foamy liquid appears...
You get the picture.
The kids helped me with rinsing and rubbing but not the slamming. They were also counting out loud as I did the slamming. I think that I probably went way over 100 times because they were laughing along the way as they were so excited. Also, they were counting in English, Greek and Spanish. What happened to French? So there I was in my bathing suit with my designer sunglasses slamming an octopus against a rock in front of a crowd of tourists snapping pictures. Lovely. Oh and for those of you who know- me go ahead and piss your pants laughing...I know you will. But I really didn't mind doing it because I love to eat octopus and this one is about 1 1/2 lbs.
In the end Kosta didn't spear another octopus. I could see the disappointment on the faces of a few tourists that were sitting near by. I noticed that they would eagerly look in the water to see if Kosta was coming out with anything. That's ok, we have one great octopus to eat tomorrow. We just have to decide whether we will grill it or broil it.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Aside from the stress of moving our entire lives overseas and living in a little space I have to say that our summer was nice. I enjoyed watching the kids play on the beach, meet new friends and learn about their new environment. We grilled fish, took road trips and enjoyed the company of friends-old and new. Even though we had a few mishaps in the yard with neighbors we survived the summer without a major incident. (this doesn't include SIL -she was hosed down by a neighbor!) Last night I went to the bakery and bought sweets for the neighbors that are still here. I figure that since I wasn't hostile toward anyone, even if they were acting like children, that I would bid "Kalo Himona" (Good winter) with a smile and some sweets because that's just how I am. I may get irritated, but I won't go down the toxic path with the rest of the bitter old biddies. I have started to pack up our little condo to move into our new house. We will be moving next week and I am excited. The kids will start school and I will start to assemble my life again. And hey, I will get to cook again! MIL has been doing most of the cooking since we've been here. We ate all of our meals at MIL's because of this and it will be nice to not have to get up and get dressed to go somewhere else to eat. My kids can't wait either since they keep asking for their favorite foods.
I will also have my own car again! Our stuff has been at the port for over 1 month because we didn't have anywhere to store it. So, we will get our car and all of our things from America to put into our new home. It will be a lot of work but it's work that I can't wait to tackle.
So overall, we have had a really nice summer and we are looking forward to fall in our new home.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Although the school that we chose is completely adorable and just what any loving parent might envision as a school that their children should attend I am a little reserved and have a few concerns about how our children will be taught. I am also concerned about the distance that my children will have to travel via school bus. I think that we will probably drive them for the first week or so. Last year the school that Iza attended was so close that we could walk. That's not the case this time around so I think that I just have to get used to the idea of them traveling on a bus and not with me.
Another concern that I have has to do with the bathrooms. The bathrooms are cute with little toilets just their size but there are no stalls or partitions between the toilets. There are about 10 toilets lined up in a row. I was wondering just how many children use the toilet at the same time. I was assured that usually no more than one student may use the facilities at once unless there was an emergency, but I am still concerned because Iza doesn't even like us in the bathroom anymore, how will she deal with another child busting in? I am sure that everything will work out and that she will adjust but it's just strange.
The last concern that I have is cultural. I feel that most natives baby their children so much that they act like babies until they are 10. I can't stand it. To see a 6 year old whining and talking like they are 3 is almost heartbreaking because I know that given the chance, children can do almost anything. To discipline a child here is almost unheard of. I do know many natives that do try to correct their children when they make mistakes but not too many. For instance, my son has been smacked around, intentionally pushed off of his bike and also pushed down 5 cement stairs that left a scar on his back. When I express that I am concerned with the way that children play here most natives just sit silent and tell me that's just how it is and that kids will be kids. Sure, kids will be kids but they don't need to play like monsters. Someone has to step in. I am concerned as to how the school will deal with this sort of behavior since most people here seem indifferent to bad behavior because "kids will be kids". I guess I just have to have faith in the staff of the school and hope that things will work out.
So at the end of the day I am excited because the kids are bored out of their little skulls and it's time for more stimulation. I am sure that they are excited too. Foti thinks that he will be going to a school like Harry Potter's and he talks about it all of the time. I hope that he's not disappointed when he doesn't find a chamber or isn't handed a magic wand to make the bullies disappear!