A piece with people, for Sarah

I stayed recently in Anavriti, a village in the mountains of the Peloponnese, at Guesthouse Arhontiko, a wonderful, welcoming place.( the guesthouse )  Maria somehow combines running it and cooking great food with teaching French down in the valley in Sparta. Her husband George is a mountain guide, a car mechanic, a builder and a craftsman who loves to make things out of pieces of wood and stone that he finds on the mountains.
I told this story after dinner, in French, to Maria who translated it into Greek for George. It came about because up on Profitis Ilias, one of many Greek mountains to be named after the prophet Elijah who  went up to heaven in a fiery chariot which swung low and scooped him up, George, who only speaks Greek, apart from just a few words of English, had pointed out to me a speck on a distant hill and said Golas! George! (It’s like Yourgo in Greek, my thanks to Joel Reid for that handy tip, because I was getting confused.) It was the hotel where Sheila and I had spent a few days that first time we came to the Peloponnese. George of Golas had told us that in Xirokambi, the big village in the valley where he had grown up, there had been a blue cafe and a red cafe, the two colours which stand for political and football opposition, for the enduring division of the civil war. I told Maria, who told George phrase by phrase that in 1966 I had travelled to Poland. In a small town after dark I had got drunk in a bar with a friendly student and a man who needed to say things about the war, then staggered to the station with him where we said goodbye and I got on a train to Warsaw. I had to lean out of the train window to be sick and my glasses fell off. I arrived late at night in Warsaw ill and unable to see clearly. A young man came up to me and said I could stay with him at the university. He shared a tiny room with a friend. Sleeping on the floor I exactly filled the space between the two beds. Like many others, my saviour was an exile from the Greece of the colonels’ junta. I said to Maria, he was the first Greek communist that I had met. Then George said something to Maria and she translated: ‘et maintenant vous en avez rencontré un autre,’ now you’ve met another one.

This entry was posted in history, politics, my life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A piece with people, for Sarah

  1. Tina Talbot says:

    Is it actually possible to leave Europe?

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