Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Early Saturday morning we had coffee with Thia Nitza (Kosta's aunt that lives on the corner, up the dirt road from us...it's because of them we found our home). She served us coffee with a homemade yellow cake and the chocolate chip cookies that I made for her. We had a nice conversation and the kids played outside. We finished our coffee and set off for Mediterranean Cosmos, a mall that's not too far from us.

It was insanely busy. It usually is on the weekends. Luckily, we found a parking spot relatively quick for the situation at hand. There were cars parked on the sidewalks, on the grass and down the narrow roads surrounding the mall. We walked the mall for a bit and then decided to get something to eat. As you might have guessed, the food court was packed. It was like a giant smoke chamber too, as people are allowed to smoke anywhere here. Ok, it's technically prohibited in some places in the country, but it doesn't matter, people are still lighting up wherever they want since almost nothing is ever enforced here. Hence, parking on grass and sidewalks. (there really is not enough space) So I said to Kosta, "It's too smokey to stay inside let's find a table outside". And just as I said that a younger woman said to her friends, out loud, in Greek "Ti lea, Ti lea?" . ("what did she say?") It's irritating because I understand Greek but yet because I am obviously a xeni (foreigner), so typically it's assumed that I just don't understand or speak the language. I turned to the woman and replied, in Greek, "Exi poli kapno atho..." ("There's too much smoke in here")....with a smile of course. She got quiet really quick. I love doing that to people here. It's like you're saying "Boo!" or something. "Gotcha!" Hee, hee.

There's a nice carousel and also a train at the center of the mall so we let the kids have a ride. They were so happy. Iza kept saying that we were the best parents ever. That was really sweet. Foti waved each time that his train car went passed me and Alexandra just laughed in the stroller as she watched.That's what it's all about folks, just the joy that flows out of these little people is enough to keep me going.

After a long day at the mall the kids had major melt-downs and fell asleep only minutes after we got into the car. We had really planned to go to IKEA on our way home but with the kids sleeping there was no way we were willing to wake them up so I offered to sit in the car with them while Kosta went in to pick up the things that we had on our list. I was in the car for an hour! I just love sitting in the car. Anyway, as I sat there I had no choice but to watch everyone else coming and going. What disturbs me is the number of people willing to put their small children in a car without a seat belt. Don't people know how dangerous it is to have children in a car without a seat belt? I witnessed 7 people get into a BMW, 7. There were 4 adults and 3 young children...2 adults in the front seats and 2 adults in the back-with the 3 children. It was almost like one of those clown cars that you'd see in a circus, only it's not funny. What would happen if there was an accident? Next, a woman came out of the store with her husband, toddler daughter and infant in her arms. Her husband helped the toddler into the backseat along with his wife and the infant. The infant remained in her arms as they drove away. It's nuts. But that's just the norm here. I do, however, want to point out that I did witness many more families properly buckling up their children and themselves, so it's clear that not everyone lives their lives on the edge.

So, we had a nice time getting out and away from the house on Saturday. On our way home I realized that we might have been gone a little longer than poor Gigi might have been able to "hold it". I'm so used to cats. I'm not used to rushing home to let the dog out yet. She was fine and didn't have any messes for me to clean up, what a relief.


  1. I know just what you're talking about x2. I'm so obviously not Greek that people feel free to say whatever they want around me, not thinking for even half a second I might understand.

    Likewise the absence of car seats. I was just talking about this recently to someone - I've never seen a car seat on the island. Ever. Infants are held in the arms. It makes me want to give lectures about children as flying objects.

    I especially want to give lectures when I'm stuck in the car for one hour! Yikes, that's a long time.

    Good Gigi!

  2. I can imagine Foti waving, he's soo cute. I am sure the kids enjoyed themselves.
    Hope you are all doing well :)

  3. Yay for Gigi! Good girl!

    I was astounded when the teenage boys in our village all got sloshed and then DROVE to a nearby hotel to swim. The sloshed part doesn't phase me, but that their mother let them get behind the wheel of a car. It's no wonder so many of them die in car accidents - and they start the 'daredevil' mentality early (by riding around without carseats.)

  4. Laurie- know, about people talking about you when you're present. Even "friends" do it. ie: "did you hear how she said that?...she doesn't use a table cloth...etc..."
    Hey, I guess that it's better than talking behind my back, it's just annoying to have to listen to the constant criticism.
    About car seats-it's much better than before. I think that more people are starting to see how important it is to buckle up their children. We actually borrowed 2 car seats 3 yrs ago when we came to baptize Iza & Foti. I was actually surpised when SIL said that she found them so fast, because I thought that she'd have a hard time. But there are still so many who find it more of an inconvenience than a safety precaution, unfortunately. Our neighbors took Iza to the beach last fall. When we brought her to the car with her booster seat the wife said, "what's that for?" and we told her. Her reply? -" oh we don't need that, she can just ride on my lap"...she's a nurse. They did use the booster seat or Iza wasn't going. They both looked at us like we were nuts.
    About sitting in the car for an hour. Hey, I guess that's something that I'm destined to do here. I just have to remember my MP3 player next time!

    Pumpkin-Foti WAS sooooooo cute! He was so happy to be in the front car ringing the bell. I didn't have the camera! I usually always have it, but not Saturday! Stay warm! Enjoy your new home!

    Syd-Hey how about this for starting the 'daredevil' mentality...just put your kid on your lap so that she can help you drive home from the supermarket. Or, how about letting your grandson ride on your vespa, standing up with no helmet. I cringe every time I see that. What I also saw in the parking lot was a father letting his toddler daughter run in between cars in the IKEA parking lot. I just couldn't believe it. I was nervous for them, she must have been just under 2yrs old. He just kept saying,"oxi...oxi"...Why didn't he just pick her up and put her where it was SAFE? Beats me.
    The whole drinking teenager thing scares me, here and back home. It happens everywhere it's just that here everyone is so indifferent...don't you agree? People would much rather make their kids happy than keep them safe. ie: a good friend of our lets his daughters stand up in the back seat while he drives. I ask him why ...he says " because they want to". He doesn't like coming over here because we don't let him smoke in our house...he says that we don't let him FREE to do what HE wants to. That's the mentality that we're dealing with. You should do what you want whether it's good for you or others...just do what you want and life will be a bowl full of cherries...until someone dies in a horrible car accident because they didn't want to be uncomfortable with a seat belt.
    And I want to be fair, these things do happen back home just not as frequent and it's definitely not acceptable, someone will say something to you if they see that your children are not safe. Hey, look what happened when Britney Spears drove with her son on her lap! :)

  5. Oh honey - wait 'til you see the family of 5 loaded onto the ancient honda scooter, baby on mom's lap, dad in front (with helmet of course) and the other 2 kids hanging off either side like chickens. All with backpacks. And I'm -not- talking about the gypsies!

    Glad the banana bread turned out so great - there's nothing like the smell of comfort food to help with winter... (And if you don't have nuts, oatmeal will do in a pinch - it just adds a little bit of texture...)

  6. I wish there were something in between (US and Greece) for the drinking. I don't like alcohol to be vilified (as we do in the States) but I wish they were more invested in responsible use (in Greece.)
    These boys were 17-22, so they weren't little kids and it's not going to hurt them a bit to get a little drunk once in a while (even in front of their parents.)
    But why their mom didn't say "I'll drive you" or something like that, I can't grab. She was right there. It's like they believe fate has more to do with their future than their choices.
    Which I think is classically Greek - at least in my experience if you'll permit me to generalize.

  7. Should read: It's like they believe fate, rather than their choices, has more impact on their future.

  8. Just a few things that came to mind while reading. Hopefully, Blogger will let me finish posting without returning an error.

    Some people, even when you're speaking Greek, assume they can't understand you. Why? They're not really listening and ignore you, as they assume you're speaking English. I'm glad you said something. After 10 years, I usually let it go, and now my fiance goes up to them and says his bit. It's even funnier when he tells them off.

    About car safety. People still think a seat belt is an idea, then launch into some story about how some guy was saved because he wasn't wearing a seat belt. My other fave is seeing kids locked in the car wide awake while their parents are inside a taverna eating and drinking their a$$es off. Emergency brake is taken off, car rolls, kids get yelled at. Eh??? Then dad drives everyone home while drunk.

    Well, at least everyone had a rather good time and Gigi was a good girl. :)

  9. Ado, I haven't seen that yet! I hope that I have my camera with me for that one. I have seen the gypsies piled on their scooters though.

    Syd- I agree with you,(regarding alcohol) if there could be something in the middle it would be great. I do also know that fate plays a big role in daily life here and it's easier to blame someone or something else for any tradgedy than to actually acknowledge or accept responsibility for the result of any action that may have incurred the event. It's conditioning. My husband often laughs when I talk about these things. He agrees with me but yet tells me to just get used to it. So, the other day I went to the laiki. I had Alexandra in the stroller and had a blanket on top of the stroller, instead of on her legs. Three different women asked me why she wasn't covered, it's cold etc...(it wasn't THAT cold). Anyway, when I got in the car I noticed that one of the women that lectured me had a child on her lap...in the back seat. I WISH that I had the chance to ask her why she didn't have that child in a car seat...so I told Kosta the story and again, he laughed at me. He said that it wouldn't have made a difference if I would have said something and that the woman would probably cuss me out and tell me to mind my own business. You know what? I know that he's probably right.

    Kat, I know what you mean. It happened to me again yesterday. We were with some friends (my husband's friends). One guy joked about how I pronounced something(in Greek) to his girlfriend, I was right in front of them. So in English I told him that I heard what he said and to quit while he was ahead. You see, with this guy I'm the entertainment. Even after that, he laughed and supposedly whispered to his girlfriend and said, "See? Now she's mad because I made fun of her". It just never ends. So, I just ignored him for the rest of the day. I'm glad that he's so amused by himself.

    Car safety- We had MIL and SIL in the car with us yesterday. SIL refused to wear her seat belt even after we explained that she needed to set an example for the children. MIL wore hers and kept saying that she was feeling sick. Yep, she actually said that she probably felt sick because of the seat belt. Ay!

    I hope that I never see any kids in a car outside a taverna or anywhere. How pathetic of the parents and how terribly sad for the children. Those poor, poor children.