I really hope boob sweat is this years next big trend, I've been rocking it for weeks now. I think because I would usually be lying on a beach I hadn't remembered just how hot it can get. I am sweating from the most bizarre places. Wetness erupts from my cheeks, actually out of my cheeks and from my forearms, don't you think that's odd?! Shall we stop talking about my sweat? Anyway...
We have been trying to learn a new sentence every day. I can't say it's been a huge success, but I have perfected 'Sorry, I don't understand, I'm English but I'm learning Greek'. I expect I'll probably still be using that line for the foreseeable future. We had visited a taverna and greeted the owner confidently with a 'Yassas, ti kanete?'. She started chatting away to us and after stopping her mid-sentence, we explained that was the extent of our Greek vocabulary. She made my day when she said my accent was excellent and she had thought I really was Greek. Opa! (I've used this a few times now assuming that people know it's a Greek expression of delight/joy/celebration).
It's a tricky language to master and the speed at which the Greeks talk would leave an Aston Martin standing, but we are excited to be able to pick out bits of what people are saying already. Surprisingly, and at the risk of sounding like a Brit abroad, there is a large proportion of people that don't speak any English at all. We had a chap round to measure up for windows and doors for the house, he fitted into that category. There was a lot of arm gestures, pointing and speaking slowly. Had it not been for the small amount of vocabulary it would have been like a game of charades. He looked incredibly puzzled when I described via Google Translate how the bathroom window would need to be frosted for privacy. It turns out we nearly ordered ourselves an 'ice' window. It wouldn't have lasted long in this heat at all.
We had also chosen a couple of doors that would have been completely wrong had it not been for our multi-lingual neighbour-friend turning up and checking our translation. Having the ability to speak Russian, Greek, Bulgarian and English puts us to shame, and I think we should just employ her to keep us out of trouble. Saying that, even she has had her fair share of misunderstandings whilst she was learning the English language. She had researched how to explain to the person she was working for that she didn't want to cause them any inconvenience, but something got lost in translation when she told him she 'didn't want to molest him'. They have since married and so maybe learning a new language could be a new opportunity to find a soul mate for all the singletons who are looking.
We had agreed before we moved here that we wouldn't find work until we had bought and renovated our house. There had been an impressively long list of possibilities to generate an amount of income that would be sufficient to cover our needs. The main one had been to invest in an olive grove and become Greek farmers. After reading an article and realising that there is an awful lot of politics that we just couldn't ever envisage - including some rogue producers who add colouring to their oil to make it look more 'virgin' - we decided to scrap it. Coupled with the copious amounts of paperwork all in Greek and the need to find workers to help with the harvesting we decided we had approached the subject with a couple of pairs of rose-tinted sunglasses. The chunk of money we had set aside for this will now be used to fund our semi-retired lifestyle and something online feels to be more appropriate. That's for later though, we seem to be keeping incredibly occupied on a daily basis at the moment and it's a wonder how we ever used to hold down full time jobs.
Whilst we're still sorting out the house legalities, we have spent a few hours each day sorting through the hugely overgrown garden. The workmanship of the previous owners has left us in awe and we have enjoyed every minute of discovering new areas. We uncovered the WW2 army helmet that had been found whilst they were excavating the old ruin, from the days when the village had been occupied by the Italians. Knowing the amount of hard graft that has gone into the house so far and having experienced total house renovations in the past ourselves, it does pull at our heartstrings that they weren't able to fully enjoy the fruits of their labour. I've shared photo's of our progress with our seller and she is thrilled to see the house coming alive again.
Here's a sneak preview of one of the courtyards before and after, there is still work to do but at the moment we are only investing our time, not our money until all of the paperwork is fully completed:-
Something else has occupied our time for the last few days too and we are still a little bit heartbroken. A dog had been abandoned, we believe in the mountains and she had found her way to the village we are staying in. I have no idea how long she has been fending for herself but she was incredibly skinny and the frayed nylon rope around her neck had got tight. She was utterly terrified of everything, even flies and bees. Our best guess is that she had been used to 'guard' the sheep - a common practice where dogs are chained/roped to an area just to bark and scare off any predators. There is no way she was cut out for that kind of work, she was such a sensitive little soul and so we believe she was cut free and dumped.
I am left in awe of my Husband once again, as he spent hour after hour lying on the floor trying to coax her to trust him. He really is the Dog Whisperer. On day 2 we found her in the garden, hiding under the plants and he spent several hours getting closer, enough eventually to untie the rope. We are not in a position to take on another dog, but had we been in our new home we would have kept her, for sure. She stole our hearts with her lanky legs, her bouncy walk and her sweetness. Dropping her off at the animal shelter was incredibly difficult. We had named her Rita Roo, both for her fantastic singing voice (she howled whenever Gary left her) and for her kangaroo-like bounce. We both had a sob in the van afterwards, and again later that day, and again when out for a walk that evening. Here she is when we first found her:-
And here she is 4 days later. Isn't she adorable?
There is animal cruelty all over the world, not just Greece. Things are certainly improving here, we have seen a difference just in the last 15 years or so, but it's slow. With the current situation there have been many dogs abandoned as owners are unable to keep them - one of the shelters I contacted said that every rescue centre currently had double the amount of dogs they had this time last year and they are all bursting at the seams. We had a response from Sitia Animal Welfare, a small non-profit who have been granted funding to purchase land to build a new shelter. Their current accomodation is an old slaughter house, but they will have the best facilities in the whole of Greece once the new site is ready. This is Rita's new temporary home and one day she will make somebody the best companion ever. Her gentleness reminded us so much of Daisy, our black labrador who passed away last year and that made our parting so much more difficult. We will be visiting her often.
Sitia Animal Welfare are working to try and provide education in order to improve the treatment of animals. Pre-pandemic they had arranged to visit schools with dogs of different temperaments, to educate children on how to approach a variety of shy/nervous/boisterous dogs and to give them the opportunity to learn how valuable our 4-legged friends are to us human beings. I hope this is something that is embraced everywhere and that the image of dogs being vicious, rabies-carrying animals will soon be a thing of the past. I'm so glad there is focus to get to the root core of the problem.