We have been here for over a week now and the days are starting to settle into a bit of a gentle rhythm.
I usually wake at or around 8am, no matter how badly I slept or how late we were up the night before. I brush my teeth, get my lenses in, get the coffee on, open the main door to air us out (after the previous night’s anti-mossie coil burning) and get up onto that “balcony with a view”. I do set my alarm but mostly, I don’t need it.
While the sun is already up at that time so it’s light, it’s not high enough to shine over the Taygetos Mountains yet, especially Mt. Elias. But it will be soon and I love to watch the sunshine creep across the other peninsula, the sea and then finally the houses & olive trees of Stoupa.
There is a gradual wakening up of the village around this time, motors of various kinds spring into life, olive tree pruning commences, the birds and insects get more lively and the local hawk can often be seen sitting on a telegraph pole, scanning the ground for small furry food.
I get my lappie out and set up on it’s Roost, plug in any gadgets that need charging and while the coffee brews, think about my day and what ONE THING I want to achieve today.
I try and get my day’s tasks done quickly, so that, if it’s a nice day, we can go down the beach to take advantage of the last opportunities to sunbathe and swim.
My ONE THING might be writing this blog post or recording the audio for it, recording our “Own It” podcast, it might be being a guest on other people’s podcast, it might be talking to my Portuguese VA Patricia via Skype about some sort of admin, finance or “leveraging of content” task.
This morning I wanted to listen to some pre-course audio I downloaded yesterday but something funny is going on with the internet connection and I’m waiting till 9am to see if it resolves itself or, if not, I’ll have to call the guy who installed it.
Most things resolve themselves with time, we are finding. Some need more energetic intervention, like our recent plumbing blockage, which needed Alberto the Albanian plumber to come and help out.
(If you are squeamish, skip this bit and jump to the SAFE READING AGAIN notice below!)
Apparently a blockage happened recently and was due to holidaying family members of our host, ignoring the signs and putting baby wipes and sanitary products down the loo, instead of in the bin. I knew that we had not done either, being meticulous about putting our used loo roll in the little blue baggies provided, then in the bin.
(Greek landfills must be so full of non-biodegradable plastic, it doesn’t bear thinking about!)
The first I knew of the issue was after visiting the loo late at night and when I flushed, the floor drain flooded the bathroom floor with filthy water and all sorts of unmentionables.
Just what you need before bed, half and hour of mopping and retching.
Next day, the problem persisted so our next door neighbour, with whom we share a septic tank / seep-away (can there really be anything more intimate?) took me down to find George who owns a miracle gadget called a Rod-Eye which apparently bores through the most stubborn pipe blockage.
We found George’s nephew who reported that George was in Kalamata, and was then on his way to Athens for a couple of days.
My face must have been a picture.
But another next door neighbour sprang to the rescue contacting a third, who turned out to be Alberto, who lives at the bottom of the road.
Alberto is Albanian, the owner of a lovely guard dog called Zack who has a propensity for escaping to forage up the gorge, returning covered in ignominy, mud, brambles and ticks after a glorious night out.
I ask you, knowing the answer full well, what British plumber would come out to help immediately with a plumbing disaster at 5pm in the afternoon, after an already full day working at the olive oil pressing plant?
(Olive oil harvesting & pressing season round her, so it’s all hands on deck!)
It’s a good job he did come so quickly because this plumbing emergency (caused in part by excess surface water in our septic tank / seep-away after the recent heavy rains) coincided with my having a bit of a dodgy tummy and, I can tell you, I was starting to panic a bit.
But after an hour of Alberto’s ministrations, which involved three of us peering down a manhole (just like a horror movie, we couldn’t look away!) while Alberto worked his magic, all was well again and even with the shower, bathroom tap and the loo flushing, no more back up occurred.
I still find myself having to open the loo door and getting ready to run, before flushing. I think I’m psychologically scarred for life.
** SAFE READING AGAIN **
Today the wood for the winter arrived. This was great, but while we knew it was coming, we didn’t know WHEN it was coming and we were certainly not expecting it today. It arrived just as I was trying to impress by greeting & welcoming my new Albanian cleaner in actual Albanian.
I just heard an almighty clatter outside and on investigation, realised that it’s the men delivering our wood for the winter. Ask as you might, you can’t get any advance notice, they just turn up when they turn up. But they do turn up. They were unloading it off the pickup and then stacking by our front door.
Now, remember a pile of wood is a haven for spiders and scorpions, so perhaps by the front door is not the best place for it. I managed to find Elias who was organising it all and who had come up the hill with them, to get him to move the location of said wood pile just in time.
Then I managed to fill the kettle with flat lemonade. Both the tea and the coffee tasted very weird. We thought the milk was off but no, that was not fresh mountain spring water, in a lemonade bottle (now in the kettle), but actual flat lemonade.
What’s wrong with the tap water, asked one of my Facebook friends Jane P. Lewis, who used to live in Athens.
Nothing really but there are free taps all over the village where you can fill your bottles with fresh mountain spring water so everyone drinks that. I have been cleaning my teeth with the local water and occasionally drinking a glass and I do have a bit of a dicky tummy the last few days. It’s got lots of “minerals and salts” in it apparently according to my local source.
I offered the new cleaner a tea or coffee but she declined and who can blame her? So I gave her a bottle of what I thought was pure mountain spring water however, she didn’t really touch it and she’s gone now. Sarah just informed me it was actual TONIC water. Poor woman.
Still, we have a new cleaner next week, Vera was a stand-in for another lady, Nina, who also can’t speak any English. So I have to go through the whole thing again but at least this one won’t think I’m trying to poison her!
Now the wood men are asking me if I have a tarp. Well, they are not asking me obviously, they are asking Elias who is asking me.
Now, do I look like the kind of woman who carries around a tarp in her handbag? I would have bought one in advance if I’d know they were coming.
I’m sure they’ll sell tarp’s down Katerina’s Supermarket. She sells just about everything else! Her upstairs is an Aladdin’s Cave of amazing things you never knew you needed.
But that’s a story for another day!