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submitted by Anna Cominos on 20.03.2009

Life In Tsirigo - Bring Back Barbarossa

Sorry for being off-line for so long, it wasn't really a case of being absent but more of having brain-freeze... it has been a long and endless winter.

Frequently Asked Questions about current Kytherian matters
+ We do have a local ship connection with Neapoli and now there is finally a twice weekly
- The ship looks like a double-Lego construction built by 4 year-old and pasted together. Once you reach Neapoli you still had an 8 hour drive to Athens....tedious
+ Interviews with Kythera's Mayor appeared in the local print press quoting him as saying the windmills were not going ahead and that the Kytherian Diaspora would be immediately advised if otherwise.
- The applications for the licensing of windmill parks on Kythera to the Regulatory Authority for Energy are still apparently being received: www.rae.gr
+ Globalization comes to the island with the first Chinese clothing store opening in Tsikalaria
-Globalization comes to the island with petty-crime on a sharp increase
+Sunflowers and wild-flowers are a bloom.
-The flowers have been flowering since late January, making their bloom 3 months early.

After picking olives for a month just before Christmas, I have settled into the translating chair working with the up-lifting Panayiota (Pia) Panaretos as we transform Tzeli Hadjidimitriou's Unexplored Kythera & Anti-Kythera from a 350 page Greek-language guide book to an English-language "must read". It has been interesting revising the history section of the book as certain Kytherian characteristics became apparent to me over the centuries. Administered since ancient times by a long-line of foreign rulers that reads like a historical who's who – the Phoenicians, Minoans, Athenians, Spartans, Venetians, British, Russians and for a blink of an eye, the French, Kythera is a fascinating amateur anthropological study. Life under the microscope.

Historically and perhaps even genetically, Tsirigotes have always had someone - often cruel - looking over their shoulder as they laboured as slaves. There is no historical mention of uprising or defiance (apart from the odd beheading of nobles), but I'll bet there was a lot of whinging.

And so the hard-working Kytherian immigrants bloomed in foreign environments (Australia, America, Smyrna etc.) where they settled into established social/economic structures, while existing on the periphery and living their lives as 'outsiders'. So when power to administer themselves finally comes they don't how to exercise it, as they don't have any previous experience... but have their eye on the thrones that the colonisers have relinquished!

"Big Deal? \So what?" you ask? How can the warlords and pirates of yesterday have any bearing on today? That was then this is now?The recent chaos that has exploded throughout Greece/Kythera seems unprecedented: state-instilled nepotism, the December 2008 Athen's Riots, the 2008 kidnapping of a shipping tycoon, the February 2009 helicopter escape of prisoners, the burglary of some Kytherian Summer homes and, last but not least, the 2009 theft of lambs from Agio Theodoros. It feels like anarchy, random violence and systematic neglect of state infrastructure.

When did Greece/Kythera go from being a high ideal to this sorry state? Well, despite embracing and even demanding multiculturalism for its population abroad, Greece/Kythera has, despite the existence of a large migrant population itself, stubbornly stuck to monoculturalism. The decay of the former communist countries surrounding Greece, particularly Albania, has been a double-edge sword.

Yes, the recent migrant workers have renewed Kythera and Greece, refilling the schools and filling the void of affordable workers, but the lack of presence of the Greek state has meant it is a free-for all: there is no integration or assimilation.

So Greece/Kythera is going through growing pains and the acne scars are not pretty. But what is most alarming is the absence of planning: how do you make a mono-culture as idiosyncratic as the Greek, multicultural? Perhaps Greece will find the light again and evolve a new system of governing. Fingers crossed... but it feels like a shaky boat trip till then.

Don't be put off if you're planning to dip your feet into Kythera's waters this year. Like a sleepy porch dog, the sea and landscape of our magic island welcomes all.(acominos@hotmail.com) Life In Tsirigo - Bring Back Barbarossa - tug to pull Mirtidiotissa

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