submitted by Helen Tzortzopoulos on 08.05.2005
Events on Kythera.
From the Kytheraismos Newspaper,
published, and distributed throughout the world monthly,
Main News, in English
By Helen Tzortzopoulos
Chronia Polla and Kali Sarakosti ! Kathari Deftera (Clean Monday), the first day of Lent celebrated on the 14th March this year, heralds the commencement of perhaps the most poignant chapter in the Orthodox faith which leads up to the re-enactment of the Crucifixion and Ascension of Christ during Holy Week. Throughout Greece, even the least pious observers of the faith adhere to the custom of fasting on this particular day. And why not when fasting includes delectable food such as prawns, lobsters, octopus and an endless variety of other “lental” delicacies which grace the counters of all the food stores throughout the country. Forsaking fast food and “fasting” in this fashion for forty days instead is not such a bad deal after all! For those not wanting to feast at home, there are always the seaside taverns which overflow with customers. During the day, one sees young and old running side by side along the foreshores hoisting kites into the sky - yet another tradition for Clean Monday – the preparation for cleansing of body and soul!
It’s carnival time - Kythi–Rio Style !!
Preceding Lent is the period of Apokries (carnival time) - three weeks of revelry and festivities. Who said that only Brazilians know how to party? A large number of Kytherians, visitors and coaches full of tourists descended upon the island and enjoyed our Mardi Gras festivities. There were parades in Potamos and Livadi with a host of imaginative floats satirizing current fashionable themes (e.g. the Priest & Priestesses, Charles and Camilla, the Tram) whilst Mary Poppins & Looney Tunes and other popular caricatures entertained tots and teens. Similarly, a carnival atmosphere prevailed in Avlemonas with its now customary open feast for visitors and also at Agia Pelagia where locals re-enacted a “Vlahiko Wedding” providing great amusement to the crowds.
In addition to this, the other national and religious holiday of the 25th March afforded the opportunity for many to flee the city - unfortunately not I! Despite two long weekends in March, much to my abhorrence, I was not able to take advantage of either due to family commitments! At the end of February though, I left Piraeus by Kytherian coach on a Friday morning, then sailed from Yithion – a journey which took almost 12 hours from time of departure to arrival. I could have reached Sydney in almost the same time! I’m not ungrateful for the coach service – it actually is a wonderful alternative for someone who is not in a hurry. If I was unhappy for time lost going down, I was not all that unhappy when bad weather set in and the boat’s departure on Sunday evening was cancelled. This meant a few extra hours on the island. But woe was me for I had an all night vigil after midnight, calling the Port Authority every couple of hours (much to their annoyance!) to see whether there were changes to the schedule. At 4:00 a.m and a little weary by now, we set off for Diakofti in heavy rain only to spend another couple of hours there waiting and waiting for the MYRTIDIOTISSA’s imminent arrival. By now, for my 48 hours on the island, I had lost an additional two working days to get there and back! Surely though better days are on the horizon….!
Stop Press ! Transport Bulletin
Good news at last!! As of the 28th March, Olympic Airlines will be running a daily flight to and from Kythera departing Athens at 12:15. This is the best news I have heard for some time. I could never understand why so many millions were spent in building a fantastic new airport only to have it functioning 5 days a week and its 25-30 employees being paid to sit idle.
A Kytherian flotilla
The F/B AGIOS ANDREAS II has temporarily left Kytherian waters to undergo certain alterations in Piraeus, in order to comply with regulations which we understand will allow the vessel to sail to and from Yithion as well. In the meantime, an open type ferry named the DORA P which carries about 90 cars has been put into service temporarily and is now running a daily service between Neapoli and Agia Pelagia – much to the mortification of a number of Kytherians. This type of ferry is popularly called a “pantofla” (slipper) and conjures up visions of the past when the small F/B ELAFONISSOS ran a shuttle service across the straits. Perhaps unpleasant memories for some but life saving for others. Let’s face it though - considering the desperate situation just a few months ago, (remember a caique was shuttling passengers to and fro?) – this is an improvement. Would it be such a bad idea if the vessel stayed on and Kythera was serviced by three vessels? I also understand that the vessel is very well laid out with comfortable lounges and spotless as is the AGIOS ANDREAS II. With clean comfortable vessels servicing our island, it is the only way to encourage and expand tourism along with commercial and/or agricultural activities both for Kythera and Lakonia. Councils, ship owners, and those involved in trade, business and various industries should take on a more lateral attitude whereby Kytherians and Lakonians work in conjunction with each other (not against each other) to encourage movement to and within their prefectures. A good start would be if improvements to the road network to Neapoli were expedited and informative signposting to Neapoli and Kythera were fixed in position. There has never been any adequate signposting in the region and inevitably travelers get lost somewhere along the way. Advertising the available ferry services en route would surely be a further positive step in promotion of the areas.
A Sporting Chance
Whilst on that coach trip I mentioned above, I was delighted to come across a team of young girls from Kythera’s High School on their way back from a volley ball match with a school at Drapetsona. Their enthusiasm and experience in participating in competition volley ball was etched in their faces and although possibly disappointed at the final outcome, the fact that they had the opportunity to take part in interschool sporting events was in itself an achievement.
New Year Awards
On the 11th February, the Kytherian Syndesmos in Athens cut its New Year Pitta and took the opportunity to honor Mr. Spiros Casimaty for his invaluable services to the Trifillion Foundation over a period of many years. As a civil engineer, his technical advice, surveys, plans for construction and restoration of numerous Kytherian projects and supervision - were always without monetary recompense. Some of the major projects with which Mr. Casimaty has been associated include the new Council building in Hora, the restoration of the Church of Sotiros in Kato Livadi, the Church of Agion Anargiron at Fatsadika and a series of buildings under the management of the Foundation.
Charity begins at Home
On the same evening, an honorary plaque was also presented to the Kytherian Ladies Group of Athens whose charitable contributions to the Casimateion Old Age Home since its inception 25 years ago has been indispensable. This group of Kytherian women is unique (particularly for Greece) in that they function with no particular executive or administrative council at its head –teamwork alone. Their fund raising, genuine concern and support for the elderly occupants of the Old Age Home in Potamos is to be seen in their regular visits and offerings of small personal gifts at Easter, 15th August, Christmas etc. – instances when a little warmth and love is crucial to the well being of those who are alone in this world.
The date for this year’s Photographic Encounters has already been announced. This very successful event will be held between the 28th September and 2nd October. The conference attracts people interested in photography from all over Greece and entails the following:
Participants must be under the age of 30 and can submit up to 20 photographs to the selection panel for display in the exhibition
Delegates who will present a paper on the history of Greek Photography
The Milos Award – to be presented for the best book published on photography through the year
During the conference, exhibitions of old and contemporary photos will be held and contributors will include Socrates Mavromatis and Kristina Williamson, an American photographer who did a 12 month study of the Kytherian community. An historical photographic feature by the poet Andreas Embiricos on Andros will also be exhibited.
On the 9th March, in a formal ceremony held at the Athens City Council, Professor Nikos Petrochelos, President of the Kytherian Meleton Co. received an award for his appraisal and translation into the Greek language of literary writings by the Roman historians, Suetonius and Sallustius. The Mayor of Athens, Mrs Dora Bakogianni herself presented the award.
Pensions at last?
News of great interest for Australian Greeks is that discussions between Athens and Canberra on the matter of pensions are headed towards a compromise agreement. Prime Minister John Howard is due to stopover briefly in Athens on his way to Turkey for the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli in April. While in Athens Mr. Howard will meet Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and it is rather certain that the matter of pensions will be included in the agenda. If an agreement in principal between the two countries is finally reached, it is possible that a formal announcement could be made by both Howard and the Greek Prime Minister. It is interesting to note that for years now, Australian Greeks have been trying to resolve the pension differences but for some reason the former Greek government held the matter in abeyance.
For the records.
The Australian-Kytherian connection provides a never ending source of interest for examination by historians and other academics. The National Museum of Australia in Canberra is to examine and document the movement of Kytherians who immigrated to Australia only to return to their homeland some years later. Today, there is a great deal of information available regarding Greeks in Australia but relatively little has been recorded on Australians who have left their country and settled abroad. Between the 24th April and 5th May, Mr. Adam Blackshaw a representative of the Museum will be visiting Kythera to meet and interview such persons. Co-ordinator of this visit is Mr. John Stathatos, the cultural director of the Cultural Company of Kythera and anyone who wishes to participate in the discussions can contact Mr. Stathatos by phone at 27360 31718 or Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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