Καλώς ήρθατε!


That’s Greek for “Welcome!” and its literal translation is almost exactly that: “Well (good) to come.”  Our friends and relations have been greeting us that way since we arrived Friday, and last night the first full moon of our stay popped out from behind Mt. Gerania as if to add its own Καλώς ήρθατε!  We didn’t get the lunar eclipse that you lucky folks in North America got to see but the moon here certainly had all the color of a blood moon, and we were thrilled — as always — to see it.


The moonrise capped a sunset walk on the beach, which is now fringed with the wildflowers we love:



Mt. Elikonas, the mountain we see from our balcony, capped with clouds  and underlined by an Aleppo pine, whose horizontal growth is a testament to the strong west wind:P1000497


Mt. Parnassos, home of the nine muses.  You can just see that it’s still snowy at the top.  There’s a ski resort on the other (northern) side.



Mt. Gerania, from which the moon would soon emerge:



The Panagia, freshly painted over the winter, against a backdrop of Melissi village on the left, and our own lovely Sikia on the right:



Looking east along the beach at Sikia:



And the rest of the moon dance:


Being welcomed back each year is one of the things we love about Greece but another of Greece’s charms is its customary leaving-taking, “Sto kalo,” which means “Go to the good.”   It’s a simple wish/command that operates on several levels and is emblematic of the love and respect that underlie this culture. Sto kalo.


καλό χειμώνα, Sikya


Good winter, Sikya.  It’s the standard leave-taking in Greece at summer’s end.  As always, leaving is bittersweet; we’re anxious to see our family and friends in the States but sorry to leave our friends and family in Greece.  The weather this September was spectacular.  From the time we got back to Greece on 26 August until the morning we left (October 3), it was mild and sunny, warm enough for a swim, cool enough to lie on the beach without suffering.  Meals on the balcony have been a delight, and there’s been a very pleasant northwest breeze almost everyday.

The Sikya fleet maintained at least a shadow presence until the last day — a first for us.  And anglers were particularly active this September — both from the beach and in boats in the cove the activity seemed frenetic.  Our peeks at the catch buckets revealed some very nice panfish, a sea-change from the little gavros we usually see reeled ashore.  Adonis was his usual steady self, working out ceaselessly on the beach and in the sea but he, too, is different this year.  With his hair cropped short, and his beard grown out, he’s scarcely recognizable.  Susan said, “It’s like he’s had a head transplant.  I had to look at his body to make sure it was him.” Perhaps he’d take some consolation in that.  And the comedy show we refer to as The Mayor also saw a new act.  When we returned from our trip to Thessaloniki in mid September, the mayor’s boat, know to us as The Scow, was beached in the crook of the cove.  We thought perhaps the mayor had made a desperate miscalculation in attempting to save a few euros on winter docking fees.  Surely the surf would pound that part of the cove all the way to the seawall during winter storms.  But, indeed, The Scow was floating again a couple of days later, albeit a bit lower in the water.  And finally, during the last weekend, we saw a fishing boat giving The Scow a brisk tow in the general direction of the Xylokastro marina.  The mayor’s beach outpost, which grew to gypsy camp splendor this year, took on a decidedly neglected aspect, and the mayor could be spied sitting among the ruins staring disconsolately out to the spot in the cove where The Scow had formerly been moored.

The splendid, dreamy, ideal weather appeared to be coming to an end, however;  the rains had begun.  In the wee hours of 1 October we got a downpour which I estimated at an inch — the most rainfall we’ve witnessed in Greece.  By dawn, however, the sky was cobalt once again and a line of clouds drifted below the top of Mt. Elikonas, across the Gulf.  And the morning we left, in the dark of 4-blinking-30 AM, in a rented Suzuki SX4, I had my first opportunity in 6 months to drive in the rain on our way to the airport.

The last full moon of this year’s trip was while we were visiting Thessaloniki.  It was wonderful seeing it rise over the city but we missed sitting on the beach in Sikya, peering to the east every few seconds, until suddenly, finally, it’s there: larger and closer than we’d expected.

It feels like it’s time to leave.  Our apartment complex is virtually empty, and we’ve wished a good winter to many of our neighbors.  The plateia, so busy on summer evenings, saw only a few kids each night the last 4 weeks, and recently dwindled to none.  The silence, so fervently longed-for, now seems lonely.  We laid in bed this morning, waiting for the 3:00 am alarm, listening to the surf bursting on the beach (a rare treat), thinking of the changing seasons, of time passing irredeemably.  Time to get up and go.  Good winter, Sikia.

Santorini: The Caldera

My impression is that when Americans think about Greece, the visuals that spring to mind are of the Acropolis and the islands.  (At least that’s how it was before the financial crisis.  Now I guess a news photo of some sort of chaos is included in the slideshow.)  And, when it comes to the Greek islands, the usual images are of the clubs on Mykonos and the caldera at Santorini.  I like to post about Greece from the perspective of an American living in an area relatively few foreign tourists visit but we’ve been to Santorini three times in the last 10 months, and it’s been suggested that I post something about this most touristy of all Greek islands.  Since I can’t think of a way to approach Santorini in a single post, I’ll put up several installments in the coming days (I hope), each dealing with an element of the unique experience that is Santorini.

And I’ll start with the blockbuster.  Santorini’s raison d’etre.  The feature that draws the hoards.  That which makes Santorini unique among Greek islands.  The caldera.


In about 1700 BC, Santorini experienced the mother of all volcanic explosions, a blast that left a ring of three islands on the periphery of a gigantic caldera.  The biggest of the three islands, shaped like a backwards “C,” is Santorini.  Even standing on the rim it’s hard to get a feel for the enormity of the caldera but it’s about 7.5 miles on the north-south axis and 4.3 miles east to west.   The high point of the rim, the village of Imerovigli, near the center of this photo, is 300 meters above the sea.  The overwhelming majority of visitors to the caldera come to Santorini but a smaller island on the other side, Therasia, is also inhabited and welcomes day-trippers mostly.   In addition, two small islets in the center of the caldera have risen from the depths since the big bang 3700 years ago.  The volcano is still active, and dozens of boats daily take tourists out to Nea Kameni to see the volcano and swim in the adjacent hot water.

The photo above was taken from near the center of the backwards “C”, looking north.  That which looks like frosting on the top of the rim are the clustered houses of the villages that line the caldera. The northernmost village, barely visible atop the arm stretching to the left, is Oia, the most famous and most visited spot on the island.


This is what makes Oia famous and infamous.  The exquisite beauty of the little whitewashed house against the deep blue sea far below.  And the hoards of motor coach and cruise boat tourists that squeeze themselves into the tiny village daily, usually traipsing after a cosmically bored tour guide who stops every minute or two to rattle off the memorized script in all the languages of the UN.  That viewpoint where they’re all standing or waiting to stand is the foundation of a cathedral that went careening into the sea during a terrible earthquake in 1956.  It’s the westernmost point of the island, and a dead-end, so once you’ve shot your selfie there you have to turn around and fight your way back through the throngs.

Looking to the southeast along the caldera from Oia.


Looking northwest over Oia.  The cliffs beyond are the island Therasia.


The locals use donkeys to haul tourists up and down the caldera steps.  There are also a couple of roads and a couple of cable cars from the ports.



A few more photos from Oia:






How to handle the hoards:


The lighthouse at the opposite end of Santorini from Oia:


Suddenly, it’s summer

Suddenly, it's summer

Peter Economides (http://petereconomides.com) posted this image this morning under the heading, “Just because it feels like summer today,” perfectly capturing our joy in the day, the warm breeze, and the glorious sea. Economides got our attention with this talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chhn5oEmITs) about rebranding Greece which resonated with many people thinking about ways to respond to the current crisis .

In the last week, we’ve gone from highs of around 70 to highs of around 80, and the lingering clouds have been banished. Wednesday is May Day, a holiday, and Sunday is Pascha, and the mood here is Opa!

In addition, while we were sitting on the balcony getting our eyes open this morning, Susan spotted a pod of dolphins swimming west in the Gulf. There were 6 of them, beautiful to watch, and we took it as a sure sign of good times ahead.   Good-bye socks, farewell jeans, hello shorts, yiasou sandals!

A Trip to the Mani

The Mani is the southernmost peninsula in the southernmost part of Greece.  It’s a stark, barren landscape of rock, sea, and sky and it is renowned throughout Greece for its harsh geography and fierce  inhabitants.  It’s also the home of Susan’s forebears, so we have a special affinity for the place.  We particularly like to visit in the early Spring when wildflowers pop from between the rocks and the gray, ashen hills are transformed into a vista one might expect to see in Ireland.  We drove down for a visit at the end of March, and put up at a sweet B&B in Areopoli.

Areopoli is the unofficial capital of the Mani.  Its name, city of Ares (the  god of war), refers to the city’s place as the starting point of the war of independence. On March 17, 1821, independence was declared in the square of the church of the Archangels in the center of Areopoli, and the Maniots immediately marched on the Ottoman garrison in Kalamata.  That garrison fell on March 23, and other parts of Greece joined the fight on March 25, now celebrated as Independence Day.  In the photo below, the view is down the main street of Areopoli, to the bell tower of the church of the Archangels.


The bell tower:


Looking back from beside the church to a peak called Arkoutholatsa (815 meters), which guards the city on the east:


That night the full moon rose over that same peak:


The next morning we drove north to visit the villages of Stoupa and Kardamyli, and buy some olive oil, sea salt, mountain tea, and other essentials that are just better in the Mani.  We stopped along the road to grab a couple of snaps of the wildflowers:



The following morning, we drove south from Areopoli, heading down the eastern side of the peninsula.  Villages in the Mani tend to be sited either deep in valleys or up on ridges or hills.  I suspect the choice had to do with the perception of relative safety at the time the village was founded.   I believe this one is called Olimbies.


This one is Spira, with the Gulf of Laconia beyond.


Those 2 photos were taken from the village of Dimaristika which was once the center for Sue’s family.  This is the family’s war tower in Dimaristika:


Looking back on Dimaristika from Lagia:


We spent some time walking around Lagia, a pretty village where Sue’s great uncle went to school.  This is a nice example of a war tower, probably an early restoration:


The archetypal Mani house, looks to be another older restoration:


There was a large house next to the central church, which we took to be the rectory.  The next 3 photos were taken around that house.




Looking back on Lagia:


This is Porto Kayio, taken from the Venetian for “Bay of Quails”.  In the before times, quail were present in great numbers and they were netted and packed in salt for export.  It was here that we crossed the Mani peninsula to the western side and turned north for Areopoli.


This is a church called Episkopi (12th century),  with the Tigani peninsula jutting into the Gulf of Messinia in the background.  We used a nearly identical photo for our Christmas card a few years back.


A closer look at Tigani.  A Venetian or Frankish fortress was built on the raised portion at the end, guarded by 100 ft cliffs.  Foundations are all that’s left.


While we were driving around looking for the road to Tigani, I grabbed this photo of Susan between two tower houses.


A bit further up the coast, we stopped at the church of St. Barbara (1150 AD), near Erimos.  We’ve also used a photo – different angle – of this church for our Christmas card.


This is an obviously ruined, presumably older church, in front of St. Barbara’s.  You can just make out some fresoes in the vault of the apse.  This is not a unique case in the Mani.


Arriving back at the B&B, we took a walk in the fading daylight and I grabbed this snap of Omales, the  little settlement about a half-mile outside of Areopoli where we stayed.


A lane in the Mani:


Peeking into an olive groove in the gloaming:


The light’s about gone but the tree’s still in bud, and the wildflowers run riot:


We call this type of cactus a Mani Fig because the Maniots peel and eat the prickly fruit they bear.  This photo doesn’t give an adequate idea of the scale of these plants but standing along side them, they tower over me.


From the patio of our room I grabbed this shot of the ruined house beyond.  The houses in Omales are slowly being restored.


As I was taking that last photo this little guy flew out of the house and perched on that ruined wall attached to the center of the house.  It’s known as a Little Owl but we call it a Mani Owl because it’s the only place we’ve seen it.  And we’ve seen or heard it each time we’ve stayed at this B&B.  They’re only 9 – 11 inches tall and are indigenous to southern Europe and Asia.  It appears on all Euro coins minted in Greece.




It’s sort of like waking up.  Or falling into a dream.  Or breaking the water’s surface and finding oneself in another world.  Or floating up from the depths and breaking into fresh, clear air.  That’s how it is.  Transiting the birth canal.  Getting in one of those giant cigar tubes with wings and getting out in not just another country but another world.  And here we are.  Aahhh…

It’s not just the flora and fauna, although they are quite different from what I know of the US.  And it’s not just the geography, although it’s the size of Alabama with more coastline than the entire US, 2500 islands, and the majority of the population living within sight of the sea.  And it’s not just the climate, which is extraordinarily temperate 10 months of the year — July and August  are the exceptions.  And it’s not just the food …I shouldn’t get started about the food.

It’s the people who make this a special place, welcoming, warm, generous, easy to be with.  I don’t know what it is exactly but it seems to stem from their deep connection to this place.  It’s as if they’re living in their great, great, great, great, great, great, etc. grandparents’ house.  They’ve always lived here, they know all there is to know about living here, they’re made up of these minerals, these waters, this sunlight, shaped by the climate and geography. They belong to the place. All of their neighbors do, too.  They are comfortable in themselves and in their land to an extent that we, with the possible exception of the indians, don’t know.

I think that easy way of being is a part of what makes it so pleasant to be here. The emphasis is on living life fully, on feeling life’s pains and pleasures completely, on the preeminence of family, on celebrating the good times and mourning the bad times.  Other issues take their place down the list.

Even now, with the country suffering through a deep economic depression from which it looks to be a long, slow slog to recovery, the spirit of Greece is irrepressible and effervescent.  (There’s an interesting comparison of Greece’s current depression and the US Great Depression here: Seen From Greece, Great Depression Looks Good .) Pensions have been cut in half, college graduates work in supermarkets for the equivalent of $7200/year, medicines and medical technology are in short supply, shopping streets are gap-toothed with closed stores, unfinished highways and railroads rust and grow weeds but…but the smiles are still quick and genuine,  families and friends still gather at every opportunity, and the Greeks remain possibly the world’s most welcoming, generous, and cheerful hosts.

Is that why it just feels good to be here?  Maybe it’s watching clouds scythe across the mountains, maybe it’s learning the moods of the sea, maybe it’s finding fields of wildflowers, orchards speckled with lemons,  poppies along the railroad tracks, wine from grapes called assyrtiko and agiorgitiko, produce from farms just over there…maybe, maybe.  But I think it’s because the Greeks have their priorities organized around what really matters, and because the sense of peace that comes from knowing the important stuff is well looked after infuses every aspect of life.  At least that’s what I think… peace, calm, happiness, love.  The world turned upside up.  Aahhh….




At last, rain. Blessed rain. Quenching rain. Cool Rain. Long awaited, wished-for, dreamt-of, fantasized-about rain. Yesterday, a rotating system departed Italy’s boot heel and ventured across the Ionian Sea to Greece’s west coast. We had intermittent showers and a lightshow in the clouds. Our morning running ended in rain, and we invented excuses to go back outside to experience cool, wet air and cool, cool rain on our skin. Today, it rained all day. Complete cloud cover, rumbles of thunder, occasional gusts from the west, the temps drifting from the low 70s in the morning to mid 60s at sunset.

After the months of unblinking sun and flesh-melting heat, today’s weather seems weird. What would be a perfectly normal, if not mild, rainy day in the Mid-Atlantic is rendered fantastic, a psychedelic side-effect of having had our brains boiled daily from mid-June. The clouds traveling across the mountains before us blend their shades of gray with the sea, raindrops on the canopy leave us thinking of rainy nights in a tent, and we are absolved of having to do anything except enjoy it.

The Greek word for summer translates literally to “Good Weather.” I suspect this term originates back in the days when ships were propelled by ranks of oarsmen, and the unspoken suffix to “Good Weather” was “- for sailing.” Once the autumn winds began, a galley was at the mercy of the sea and could well find itself blown across the Mediterranean, like Odysseus. Wise seamen and admirals knew well that pushing the limits of the summer season was courting disaster. What I find a bit disconcerting is hearing Greeks at the end of August taking leave of each with the words, “Good Winter,” as if there are but two seasons, good weather and winter. Of course, there are Greek words for spring and fall, so I think the distinction is more likely between “Holiday season” and “Work/School season” than between “Summer” and “Winter.” It’s a state of mind, not meteorology. Maybe it’s because we’re wrapping up our fifth summer here but it makes perfect sense to me. Until we meet again at the water’s edge, it’s winter.

Ode to a Grecian Salad

Ode to a Grecian Salad

OK, it’s not an ode but it is a Grecian salad. Horiatiki, thy name alone inspires reverence and appetite. Horiatiki salata is the quintessential Greek salad, the salad that is ambrosia in the home country and an embarrassing, pale imitation in the US. “Horiatiki” means “village style,” which in turn means simple, fresh, unadorned. To make a good, true Horiatiki salad, the vegetables must be in season and very fresh, the feta must be Greek and served in a single large chunk, and the oil must be very good olive oil. An unwillingness to compromise on the vegetables means that Horiatiki is only available here in the summer which, mercifully, is quite long. The dreadful “Greek Salad” or “Village Salad” that one finds in most Greek restaurants in the US usually fails on all three counts: the tomatoes are either yellowy or hothouse, the feta is crumbled (a sign of uncertain quality), and the oil is cheap, if it’s not canola. And, if you see leafy green stuff (eg, lettuce) in your Horiatiki, well…your salad is beneath contempt.

Now, while I agree that a person whose skill in the kitchen is limited to taking something out of the freezer and putting it in the microwave should not be allowed to promulgate a recipe, my affection for Horiatiki (I’d have it twice a day if a certain someone would let me…) emboldens me to venture into that strange territory. Thanks to the cooperation and patient instruction of my better half, I offer the following pictorial on the proper, God-given, canonical method of preparing this simple, perfect dish.

First, go out to your garden and pick a fat, perfectly ripe tomato for each person. If your garden has failed or fails to exist, a good truck farmer can usually supply real fruit but beware the supermarket: plastic, flavorless tomatoes cannot be substituted. The green pepper should also be garden fresh and very mild, and the cucumber should be crisp and peeled. Mildness is also a virtue when it comes to the onion, which can easily overpower everything else. Some people (you know who you are) consider capers optional; I do not. I’ll get to the olives in a bit.

Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and put them in the salad bowl.

Season the tomatoes with sea salt and set aside. Peel and slice as much cucumber as you feel appropriate. Slice a small portion of the onion as thin as possible and cut the rings into quarters (90 degrees of arc for you scientific types). Slice the pepper as thin as the onion, and don’t leave your guests to deal with pepper rings: cut them up. Use enough pepper to serve as a heavy garnish (a quarter of the pepper).

When the tomatoes have had at least 5 minutes with the salt resting on them, layer on the cucumber, onion and pepper.

Olives are an area for personal expression. We like big, black olives from Kalamata (90 minutes south) but Greeks use a seemingly endless variety of local olives, so you can’t go wrong here. (Note for the record: olives have pits. Pitted olives are unacceptable. Also, olives stuffed with pimentos are best reserved for martinis.)

We like 4 or so olives per person but you’ll never get that many in a taverna, so add them as you’d like.

Sprinkle on a couple of teaspoons of capers.

If you don’t like capers for some odd reason, don’t eat them. But they give an extra dimension of flavor to the salad, and so should always be added.

Since you know your feta is of high quality, feel free to slice it into easily spooned slices, as we do, or do it the way all tavernas do and just lay a huge block artfully on top.

Now’s the time to add the olive oil. Needless to say, extra virgin is required, and your best olive oil should be reserved for your salads. (And ice cream, if you go there.)

Drizzle the olive oil liberally over the salad. For some of us (who shall remain nameless), the whole point of a Horiatiki salata is the creation of the amazing tomato juice/olive oil melanage in the bottom of the bowl, which can be best appreciated when soaked up with piece of really nice, crusty, fresh bread. So skimping on olive oil misses half the goodness.

Finally, sprinkle some dried oregano evenly over the entire bowl. I don’t know what kinds of dried oregano are available in the States but the kind we get here is wild oregano, gathered in the mountains and air dried.

Its taste is head-and-shoulders beyond the stuff in the McCormick’s jars, so if you can find some kind of dried oregano with an expressed provenance, give it a try. Add some freshly ground black pepper to finish the salata.

Your Horiatiki is now completed. I think it’s best when slightly chilled, so if you have a few minutes to hold it in the fridge, I’d do it. Regardless, when it’s time to eat, carry your Horiatiki to the table but do not mix it. If the feta is in a block, break it into pieces at the table and back away. Oriste, your Horiatiki is ready to serve. Serve it by spooning it up from the bottom — this way everyone will get all the layers, covered in olive oil.

On the matter of seconds: in Greek families it is accepted that everyone simply eats seconds out of the bowl, including swiping away at the olive oil with hunks of bread. If you’re dining with family or close friends, and this kind of communal dish is acceptable, it’s recommended for the intimacy it brings to meal. Otherwise, the traditional passing-of-the-bowl works just fine.

That’s it. Accept no substitutes. Consume outdoors if at all possible. A crisp white wine is a wonderful addition and a hoppy summer beer is sublime. And a tableside view of a Grecian sea is best of all.

Thanks to Andrew, who stands second to no man in his affection for Horiatiki, for suggesting this post.

Apes and Bees

Apes and Bees

When Sue and I came to Europe on the Grand Tour in ‘72, these little 3-wheeled Piaggio Apes were ubiquitous in Italy and Greece. We had seen them nowhere else in Europe but they were clearly the go-to vehicle for plumbers, builders, craftsmen, and deliveries of all types in Italy. We assumed it was an Italian vehicle for Italians. But when we got to Greece we found exactly the same situation; a significant percentage of road traffic was comprised of these tiny, buzzy, flimsy contraptions. They have miniscule, single-cylinder 2-stroke engines that smoke like chimneys and propel the vehicle to a top speed of maybe 25 mph. And one look is all it takes to convince you Ralph Nader missed his target when he wrote Unsafe at Any Speed. My brother and his Navy pals on Crete referred to them as Souvlaki Wagons.

Fresh from university, after 4 years of Latin and 4 years of French, I looked at the swarms of these little rattletraps and wondered (to myself, mercifully), “Why do they call these things Apes? They want us to think they’re big and strong? That’s hilarious!” Obviously the laugh was on me for it was almost 4 decades later I suddenly realized that, of course, they hadn’t given the vehicle an English name, they gave it an Italian name, and that Ape is Italian (and Latin) for “bee.” And it’s a perfect name it: light, small, buzzy, and prone to travel in swarms.

These days, Apes are becoming as rare as apes in Greece but, because they apparently live forever, you do occasionally run into a hardy if superannuated soul piloting one these jobs around town. A toothless fishmonger in the next village sells fish from the back of a pungent example, and I spotted this one, apparently collecting recyclable trash, in central Athens.  They may be too slow for today’s roads and too uncomfortable for today’s Europeans but they were obviously well designed for their intended  purpose and era, which is rapidly drawing to a close.  My appreciation of the Ape ends there but whenever I see one it gives me fresh pause to consider just how much Greece has changed since 1972… and just how useful is a university education.



Karagiozis is the popular name given to the Greek shadow puppet theater.  The protagonist in all of the plays written for this theater is a small, humble Greek peasant called Karagiozis and so the genre is simply known by his name. In this centuries-old type of theatre, the flat, articulated shadow puppets are pressed against the back of the screen by puppeteers hiding below it, and a light shining through from the back provides the magic for the audience out front. The “set” of the plays generally consists of the palatial house of the Turkish overlord on one side of the screen and the small shack of Karagiozis on the other. All of the action takes place between these two set elements, and if you think in terms of Punch and Judy you’ll have a good idea of the sort of action that occurs. There are something like 200 Karagiozis plays but the plot in all of them revolves around Karagiozis’s drive to put something over on the tall, regal Turk. Generally, a ridiculously small sum of money is involved – a fraction of a cent – but for Karagiozis the important point is that he comes out ahead of the Turk. This drives the action through all of its absurd twists and turns, and, of course, Karagiozis always comes out ahead.

Karagiozis is considered a national treasure – an elemental part of Greek cultural heritage – and so the state supports a couple of puppeteers who travel the country each summer, staging shows for holiday-making Greeks. Each year, one of these troupes arrives in Sikya and sets up its theatre-in-a-trailer in the plateia just beyond our balcony. The puppeteers spend the day setting up benches, screening, a popcorn machine, a souvenir booth, and then circulating through the surrounding villages and towns in a loudspeaker-equipped car, drumming up business. The show starts after dark, and it is always SRO, packed to capacity. I thought of going the first year but quickly determined that only kids and the parents of kids too young to be left alone were in attendance. The other parents sit outside in the plateia and dutifully buy snacks for the kids before the show and souvenirs after.  The next morning, its all been packed up and taken away to the next village.

The Karagiozis arrived in Sikya this year on Tuesday, and the howls of laughter and shrieks of delight that erupted from the compound proved that the puppeteers still know their audience and that the audience still appreciates the efforts of Karagiozis to prove himself the better man. In a movie-, TV-, and video game-jaded world, it’s just wonderful to see kids enraptured by shows that have traveled the countryside since long before the arrival of automobiles and electricity, long before independence.

My appreciation for the Karagiozis is due entirely to a wonderful section of Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi. Miller was a true hellenophile, and his ability to communicate the wonder of this land is an inspiration for this blog.

It’s good to be just plain happy; it’s a little better to know that you’re happy; but to understand that you’re happy and to know why and how . . . and still be happy, be happy in the being and the knowing, well that is beyond happiness, that is bliss.

– Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi