Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Baptism party

We are back in Chora after a wonderful party
that will probably continue into tomorrow.


All generations and nationalities joined in the dancing!

We ate and drank and danced from 2:30 - 6:30pm. This was a long time for two aging Canadians! The live Greek music ended and the DJ was playing some uninteresting tunes so we decided that was enough. Unfortunately it is too late for a nap and too early for will entertain ourselves for a couple of hours and get an early sleep to prepare for tomorrow's party!

The Baptism

The big day

Baz's blue suede shoes!


Outside the church with Niovi.




Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sunset, friends and a huge heart

We decided to enjoy the sunset last night from Moon Bar in Katapola.


Many more friends arrived on the ferry last night.


We were really pleased to greet Shukru, our Turkish friend, on the pathway this morning!


Carmen's friends brought her a huge heart for the celebrations!

Friday, April 28, 2017

The music of languages and children

We are surrounded by the music of languages...Greek, Turkish, Dutch, German, French and far!

Children are the centre of everyone's attention.

Carmen, Loukas' mother, is always laughing!
Meanwhile Yorgos wants to take Loukas' cookie!

The electricity was off this morning so we had to wait at Jazzmin while coffees were made on a small camp style gas burner. The children entertained each other and us. The weather has turned suddenly from winter to summer. It is a a hot day...perfect for swimming but I am going to find a quiet spot in the village to sit and draw while John has a nap. There is a karaoke event planned for tonight at Bayoko Bar so we might wander along to make fools of ourselves!

We struggle every day to remember all of the names of people who have crossed our paths over the years...and suddenly appear before us with smiling faces!...strange names that are not common in Canada...Evgenia, Sotiris, Panos, Yorgia, Haritini, Fotula, Fabio, Yorgos, Buket, Shukru, Tuna, Aerati, Kalliroi, Vassiliki, Baz, Yiannis, Mata, Zoi, Niovi...the list is endless...a constant challenge for our memories!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

More arrivals

We finished the gift bags yesterday morning before my scheduled Greek lesson.

 Penelopi is very patient with me. We spent 1 1/2 hours going over the various ways to say "hello"
and testing my memory with the verb "to be". Obviously I should know these things by now but there are variations that I didn't know.

When I returned to the apartment we were trying to decide what to do for the evening when Carmen appeared with five Dutch friends. They were all meeting Baz and 12 other Dutch folks for dinner but she didn't have room in her car for all of them. So...we joined them, taking two in our car. The meal was delicious and we discovered new friendships in the group!

Back at Jazzmin we were pleased to see that Mary had arrived from India. Introductions were made with our new Dutch friends and before long we were being serenaded with lovely guitar music.

Today we will welcome more arrivals to the island for the festivities!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dinner at Mikey's

Last night we were invited to Michael Anne's for dinner in Langada.


There is an amazing sunset view from her house.

After dinner on the upper terrace we were feeling chilled
so she lit a fire to warm us while we enjoyed one of her fabulous desserts!

Baptism preps

The Easter church bells have ended and this morning we were serenaded by the fisherman's conch shell as he blew into it...signaling that he had fresh fish for sale.

Yesterday I joined friends to paint designs on the outside of 250 gift bags for the baptism.


Small handmade boats with bags of sweets were placed inside the bags... for each guest.

Loukas visited us to check on the progress.
Today we still have 75 to complete.

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24th

Our days always start with communal gatherings of various sizes at Jazzmin 
where we sip coffee, discuss, write and sometimes...some of the group plays games!

Our gatherings cross generations from 1 1/2 years to 80 years
and span many countries...Tuna (from Turkey) is competing against Baz (from Holland).

John welcomes John "Junior" (from Leicester England).

Sunday, April 23, 2017


The weather has been extremely cold, more light rain and wind yesterday It is a struggle to stay warm. Mata finally loaned me a coat to wear over my four layers of summer clothing. The overnight temperature felt like about eight degrees.

I met with Penelope for my first Greek lesson yesterday afternoon. Old brains seem to resist any additional effort to learn something new! It was a good start (not the first time that I have attempted to learn this language) and I promised to use Greek whenever possible during the next few days. Current reading is a children's book...Greek version of Peter Pan.

We woke up this morning to sunshine...OMG! It feels so good! Everyone is smiling! Junior arrived, Elena appeared, Buket shared Turkish coffee with us at her Chora home around noon.

The Icon is enroute back to the Monastery after an Easter week of touring the island. Islanders were dressed in their finery this morning for a final church service. Island life will return to normal tomorrow with children returning to school.

Loukas' little cow welcomes visitors at our door!

We watched a documentary tonight at the Film Festival about the aftermath of the ISIS invasion in Sinjar, the home of many Yazidis (Kurds). Forced to evacuate from their homes, many of their daughters and children were held captive by ISIS and never returned to their families. The film was in Arabic with Greek subtitles but we were able to understand the horror inflicted on these people.

We drowned our sorrowful feelings in raki and calamari after the film. Our host had his " name day" today ...George or Yorgos...and offered us cake with sweet raki before leaving.

The little cow had disappeared into Loukas' arms when we returned!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A song

Kalliroi and Thodoros entertained us with a song 
From their upcoming performances in "The Cherry Orchard"



The baptism group has started to arrive
from Greece, Holland and Turkey.


Loukas with Theo, who will be his godfather.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Writing again

Kalliroi joined me for a writing session yesterday.

It was a cold day and we huddled at Tre Porto in the cozy (usually) courtyard. 

One of the writing prompts was "balance":

Be careful
With words hanging heavy
that threaten to tip the day

Be careful
with gestures flung carelessly
off the edge of reason 

Be careful
when you erase the line
that connects me to you.


Doc film and basketball

There is a small Documentary Film Festival held each spring in Vroutsi, a tiny community on the south end of Amorgos. On Wednesday evening we joined a group of 30 people to watch a Greek film. Without subtitles it was a challenge to decipher much of the dialogue but it was visually interesting.

When we returned to Chora, starving, our choices were limited...our kitchen cupboard did not hold anything interesting so we walked up to Parvas. Several men were totally enthralled with a basketball game on the taverna's  TV. We pulled up chairs and ordered our meal.


For two hours the television screen alternated between basketball and soccer, more men arrived as we listened to their cheers and boos! I am not sure whether most homes don't have televisions or if this is part of the villagers' communal experience. They all seem to know the players, trainers and coaches by name and reserve the right to offer criticisms constantly if their team is not handling the ball as they should!

Yesterday I made arrangements to have Greek lessons with Penelope and also discovered Duolingo online. The online lessons reminded me of the vocabulary that I had picked up over the years. There were several unusual words that the site expected me to know (ie) Greek for buffalo...not a common word in Greece!


The fields of wildflowers continue to bloom.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Village life

It is difficult for most people to imagine what it is like to live in a small village on a remote island. The days are quiet and slow. On the pathways we see the same faces every day. There is a bustle of activity in the mornings as children race to school and adults wander toward work. The afternoons are very quiet while most people are at home sharing the big meal of the day. A resurgence of life happens after 5:00pm when children play in the narrow pathways, teachers pause for coffee at local cafes and shops reopen. 


The fields around Chora are alive with exuberant expression of happy daisy faces 
laced with brilliant red poppies and vibrant purples!


I can never resist the allure of old doors that lead into empty lodgings.

I wonder who lived behind these doors in past years!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A storm and then the sun

We had a wonderful light show last night with the sky exploding in sheets of lightning. The good news is that the island will stay green and lush for longer in contrast to last year when there was a serious drought. Fields are full of daisies and a variety of other wild flowers. Even the goats can't eat all of the beauty!
This morning the sun was shining and my laundry is attempting to dry after the deluge.


Fotula enjoying the morning sun

An interesting cover for the fish nets

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A white morning

This Easter was quiet in comparison to past experiences on the island.


We joined friends at a local cafe for roast goat dinner and grilled pork with all of the delicious homemade side dishes and an endless supply of raki. The sun was shining but it was a chilly day.


Maria, our landlady, had decorated the apartment and left us a hand knitted basket of Easter eggs!


The church bells have been quiet so far because everyone is recovering from a late night of partying. We are still adjusting to the time change and sleeping sporadically. The clouds have descended on Chora this morning...the air is white and cold!


Easter eve

Still unable to bring photos into my blog but I will continue with updates.

Last night we went for dinner to Pyrgo's small restaurant in Arkesini with Kalliroi and Vassiliki. It is a charming family place with delicious home cooked dishes. We were joined by the two young directors of an upcoming stage production...The Cherry Orchard which has a cast of 23 locals in the performance. The play will be staged in a campground at the port...many challenges!

On our return trip to Chora we stopped at the small village of Vroutsi to watch the church service that prefaces the resurrection. Everyone was dressed in finery, held long tapered candles and listened to the priest chant until the magic moment when fireworks exploded overhead and almost deadened our eardrums forever!

In Chora we joined a full house at Jazzmin for Magaritsa, the traditional Easter soup. Theo's mother had made two with goat's innards and one with just mushrooms. Andonis, the DJ, played  loud un-Easter type music as we sampled the soups and drank our wine.

By 2:00am we finally left the group to party without us and headed home for a good sleep.

I think that we are finally altering our internal clocks to Greek time. Slept until after 10am when the church bells woke us. Non stop bell ringing allows the children to stand in line at each of the churches while they take turns ringing the bells in a cacophonous rhythmn. Between their turns with the bells they will disturb the peace further with fireworks through the next few days.

Later today we will join in a feast of goat....grilled, roasted, Aegialis.

Friday, April 14, 2017

We're here!

I am having problems with syncing my photos to the blog. It will take some time for me to figure it out after the jet lag subsides.

Our trip was relatively uneventful but long...four segments with three airlines...Westjet, British Air and Lufthansa. The only real confusion was at London Heathrow where we had to change terminals, exit through passport control and find departures to check into the next leg to Frankfurt. We received meals of varying quality on each flight and plenty of water.

Arriving in Athens at 12:30am, we took a taxi to our hotel in city centre. There is a set price for taxis now between the city and the airport...38 euros for a daytime trip and 54 euros for a trip between midnight and 5:00am. At the hotel we were greeted by the night attendant with welcome hugs for "Mr. Maxwell and Mrs. Linda". He has welcomed us on many arrivals. Our heads were finally on pillows at 2:00am (4:00pm on Wednesday in Vancouver) after being awake (most of the time) for 34 hours!!

Our eyes popped open around 10am on Thursday morning and we were ready to find some breakfast. Enroute we stopped to say hello to Andronikos in his shop and after eating we returned for a longer visit. His winter travels included a trip to Peru and Bolivia so we heard some of his stories from the travels. We also viewed his latest jewelry creations that use the theme of " balance"... beautiful work.

Before long we were in another taxi to the port of Piraeus for our 10 hour voyage to Amorgos. Fortunately, back in December, I had booked a cabin onboard. By the time we pulled out of port there was not one empty seat on the entire ship...and it is large! Everyone was returning to the islands for Easter celebrations. We managed a couple of hours sleep and relaxed away from the noise and crush of bodies!

There was a rental car waiting for us in the port of Aegiali at 2:30am and we managed the half hour drive to Chora goats on the road! After carrying our bags to the apartment John suggested that we see what was happening at Jazzmin Cafe Bar. Hmmmh!

Many hugs and kisses later...and treated like visiting royalty...we shared some wine and grilled cheese sandwiches, heard some stories, shared more hugs and kisses and finally wandered down the pathway to our Amorgian home at 5:00am! Yikes!...but we weren't tired...fully energized we decided to watch the sunrise at 7:00am. Once again our heads were on pillows at 7:30am...until 2:00pm when we realized that we hadn't seen our daytime to Jazzmin for more hugs and kisses and a late breakfast omelet.

Dragging ourselves away from Jazzmin around 5:00pm we found Anna and Penelope at Bayoko for a good visit but our energy level was starting to drop. Time to pick up groceries and enjoy a bowl of porridge for dinner before sharing a rational moment. Maybe we should go to bed instead of joining the young ones for tonight's activities. In the past 63 hours we have managed 11 hours of sleep. Time to say good night!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A sunny morning

The sun was actually shining this morning and we enjoyed a walkabout 
with Heather, Chris & Augie before the skies opened again!

We discovered this magical spot along the way.

Augie and Papa joined these jazz musicians!

When we returned to the apartment we looked out at the mountains that surround Vancouver.
Spring is near but there is still snow in the air!!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


Suffice to say that it is much easier to be "away" than to deal with the reality of being "home". A couple of address changes resulted in the non-delivery of our pension T4's to the current "home" address (i.e.) my sister's house in Cloverdale. So...we decided to visit the Service Canada office in downtown Vancouver yesterday after our Doctor appointments. Following a forty minute wait we spent another half hour with an agent who finally gave us personal access codes to our pension & income tax info. Then we were able to register on their computers and print duplicate T4's for our 2016 government pension income...another long process. Over two hours later we walked out of the building...heads spinning.

Thanks to a vehicle break-in, smashed window and dead battery during our last two month absence...we spent several hours today with BCAA (charging the battery), Speedy Glass vacuuming the broken glass from the vehicle's interior, Speedy Glass having to charge the battery again(they didn't have jumper cables so we had to wait for their slow charger to work) and driving around for another 2 hours to ensure that the battery was juiced up.

Tomorrow (if the car will start) we have to take it back to Speedy Glass for window replacement.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weekend in Cloverdale

We are spending the weekend at my sister's home in Cloverdale, enjoying family time with good food and games. Yesterday my sister participated in a neighbourhood garage sale event from 9am - noon. Sales were affected by drizzling rain so before noon everything that hadn't sold was packed up and ready to be dropped at Thrift stores in the area.

Mereille (niece) and Tara (sister) waiting for customers!

John and Ted (brother-in-law) stayed inside to catch up on the past few months.

The sun is shining this morning, 
coffee is brewing, birds are chirping.
Life is good!