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June 1965

It is the last day at school and I’m very happy, because we will be going to the village tomorrow.

Everything is ready. My father’s OpelKadetCaravan is filled with our summer clothes, food and gifts for the family at the village. In the back seat, there is enough space for my younger sister to lie down and sleep. In the front seat, there is a small portable fridge packed with sandwiches, soft drinks and… lots of ice! On the roof rack, there is a mountain of folded sun beds and chairs and other necessary summer accessories.

Like every summer… running around till the very last minute, getting ourselves organized and worried we do not leave out “something important” like my mum used to say. My grandmother had been informed of our imminent arrival by a phone call to the only public village telephone next door.

On arrival… what great joy and a royal welcome! First of all, we would hand out the gifts to the aunts, uncles and cousins; they were usually beautiful summer straw bags, hair bands and ribbons, dress fabric, cigarettes and “daisy” chocolates, as well as PAPADOPOULOU biscuits in tin boxes. One by one, they would happily receive their gift, and in turn offer us walnuts, almonds, oil, potatoes and whatever else was stored in the cellar. Our all-time favourite was the freshly baked bread and “tsantila” fresh sheep cheese. It was only after having exchanged the latest news that we got down to unloading the car.

The box of NOUNOU condensed milk, the spaghetti, the rice, the biscuits, the flour, etc… whatever needed to be kept cool, such as the butter and the water melon went down into the well in a bucket! Bread, melba toast and sweet things, were stored in the “kaponara”, a hanging metal cupboard.

As for the house, even though it was pretty clean (how much could a grandmother do), we would still get down to scrubbing the floors and stones and whatever we stepped on the very next day, with “trinal”(detergent) and water from the well.

The old cots were made up with home-spun sheets, which were a little coarse, yet beautiful. On the walls hung tapestries made by the grandmothers in their youth and in the dresser drawers the china was stored … with the kings of England decorating them (as was the fashion). Drinking water was carried in ceramic jars from the upper central spring each afternoon. When the house work was done, we went straight to the sea! The entire beach was ours. Around eleven o’clock in the morning, the children from the villages up above also came down for a swim, a gang with laughter and fun, spending the entire day at the beach. In the evening we would sneak into gardens and take as many pears, grapes and figs as we could eat. Once it got dark, our mothers called out to us to go back home.

As the years went by, electricity arrived and many things started to change… except for us, who try to hold on to as many traditional aspects of our lives as we can.

Whoever lived during those times in the village would be able to understand our opposition to the current destruction of the natural habitat.

It is true that we cannot go back in time, but we will at least try to safeguard as much as we can not only in our village, but all around the world. What we’re trying to achieve by writing these pages is to enlighten and to encourage people to protect the natural environment.

 
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