Life in Lagkada

The other day I got home at 5:45 in the afternoon – that has to be some sort of a record for the last few months.  It was, in a word, awesome.  I took the world’s longest shower, where I actually had time to wash my hair thoroughly in hot water instead of my usual shower from the garden hose at the dive centre.  With a couple of hours to kill until my pre-appointed dinner time with a friend, I decided to make the most of the setting sun and explore the village I’ve been living in for the last 6 weeks – something I still hadn’t found the time or the energy to do.

I walked through the main square, saying hello to the usual suspects: Adonis, my friend the restaurant owner and purveyor of the best ouzo I’ve ever had; and Ioanna, my boss’s grandmother, the local knower-of-everything, and shopkeeper of the mini-mart.  Then I was off.  The church bells had started ringing . . . or rather, the local priest had started ringing the church bells, so I hurried up to catch him in action.  Deciding I was not appropriately dressed for an orthodox Christian church service (a strappy sundress is not exactly smiled upon) I made my way down through the village’s twisting and turning streets.

All the inhabitable houses in the village are white-washed.  About 98% of them have blue shutters and doors, with the other two percent varying between natural wood, green and red.  The streets/walkways (there are no cars allowed in the village) are paved with cement, and every step is detailed in white paint.  Where there is a flat stretch of street, there are white stripes every metre or so – where a step would be if it were needed.  In between the stripes, and on the steps, someone has painted flowers or hearts or smiley faces . . . for no particular reason other than it looks pretty.  The village has existed this way for quite some time.

As I wound my way through the streets down towards the northern bottom end of the village, I encountered some donkeys and some stunning views of the valley between Lagkada and Tholaria, the village on the opposing hill.  I saw the teeny tiny village that lies in the valley – I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know that there is no running water or electricity, only 4 houses – and two churches.  Apparently there are 2 British couples and 2 French couples that live there, and they hate each other.  Too bad, the village is quite quaint from afar, and other than the influx of expats, I doubt life has changed much there in a few hundred years or more.

I continued on my walk, skirting the village to the west, and found along my path a couple of fig trees!  Helping myself to a few ripe figs, still warm from the day’s sun, I turned east and re-entered the village proper, not really knowing where I would end up.  Almost immediately, I saw a familiar face: that of the local rembetika singer, and knew I was near Loukaki – the restaurant with excellent food and live music on Saturday nights.  I turned right and decided to have a browse through Athanasia’s little grocery store, where I picked up a couple of things, and was starting to leave when one of the three very old Greek woman sitting outside stated to me that I should sit down and speak with her.  When a very old Greek woman asks/tells you to sit down and talk, you sit and talk.  I sat.  I talked, in my broken Greek, and managed to tell her that I live in Lagkada, speak and understand very little Greek, am from Canada, and am working at the diving centre with the son of the brother of Giannis Sinodinos.  She asked if I was single (by pointing at my left ring finger and asking ‘only you?’).  Yes, I replied.  She seemed satisfied with all of this, saying to her (I suppose) daughter or niece that it was ok I wasn’t married, I was still young . . . ‘I’m 29’, I said in Greek ‘Ohhhhhh’ was the disappointed response – apparently I am supposed to be married by now.  During our discussion, I learned that the two other very old Greek ladies were her sisters, and that the shop was run by some sort of family member of hers.  This family member (Athanasia) was making loukomades (my most favourite Greek dessert of all time) and had just finished a fresh batch.  They were brought out and placed on an upturned cart in the middle of our little circle.  I was told to eat, so I ate, and was subsequently force-fed when I tried to refuse a second and third loukomadaki.

Eventually, I figured I could politely take my leave, and I wandered back up through the village in the setting sun to the main square to meet my friend for dinner.  We ate at one of the two restaurants we frequent.  I had fava, an Amorgian dish, which is mashed up white beans, lightly flavoured and served with olive oil and onion – it is delicious, especially when warm, which is how I was served it that night.  My friend and I sat and talked until late, enjoying our free second carafe of wine from the two Michalis’s that work there.  Then we wandered over to Pergalidi, the local amazing bar, where we chatted with Maria, the owner, and another friend.  At midnight, it was time to call it a day, and as I walked out of the square and up the path to my house, I thought how lucky I am to have found Amorgos.

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