Lucy, the guard dog, who jumps up on the wall and barks as I pass, has a tail that swings from side to side with such excitement that I’m always sorry not to go pet her, yet, Lucy is a guard dog, chained up day and night outside our apartment. This is Greece, and the relationship of an Englishman and his loyal compatriot isn’t mimicked here. Lucy could be lovely. But do I really want to put our friendship to the test?
Lucy’s home is the hillside between the Greek village of Kefalos, where Hippocrates was born, and the beach. Kefalos used to be the capital of the island of Kos, until an earthquake persuaded many of the inhabitants to move east and form the imaginatively named Kos Town. Now it’s a gentle place, filled with cafés for the tourists and restaurants that close in the evening when the buses go home. It doesn’t heave with pleasant. Maybe the ‘economic situation’ has deterred some of the usual visitors, or maybe this place is normally slow of pace. Either way it’s a really nice place to be.
A Greek café owner sums up this village’s outlook. She points to the sea, down to the sandy beaches and up, round her at the marvelous brightness.
“Tourists come, for this, the tourists will still come. If they need a visa,” she shrugs and stamps her hand with an imaginary visa stamp. “They will get visa.”
Life goes on.
Yet, with the referendum happening on Sunday, this entire week is one long holiday for the banks. Money isn’t particularly difficult to come by if you’re using an international bank account. DeepThought managed to get some out of the village ATM. Hesitantly watching a holidaying lady wants cash – even if she doesn’t need it.
“Does it work?” she asks me before DeepThought had even managed to tap in his PIN. She assured me that she’d brought plenty of cash, but… Despite the calm there’s a slight tension amongst holiday makers as they arrive, a tension drummed up by the media. The ATM at the airport was empty.
It’s more challenging for the long-term tourists or the Greeks themselves. If you’re working with a Greek bank account, and some of the more permanent English women in the pizzeria were, you’re unable to retrieve more than 60 euro each day.
I’m reminded of my arguments about national pride by my sister. Can you also have national shame?
A young waiter, tells us of how when he was in New York, he worked one job. Here in Greece he works two. What he dreams of, trains for and spends his money to do is play football for an English club. The unemployment rate here (those looking for a job as a percentage of the labour force) is 25%. England’s is 5.5%.
I drink freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee. I eat a gorgeous, light chocolate cake. I have a cone of what looks like ice cream, but is actually frozen yogurt, filled with candied cherries. The sun makes me deliriously happy. I read the travel guide and it explains the tension between the all-inclusive resorts with their captive audience, and the small business owners. All inclusive resorts reduce inefficiencies and require a smaller workforce.
There’s so much sun, so much light I wonder how different this current crisis would be in the depths of winter when depression is so much easier to come by. The heat though can frustrate tempers. I’m in a bubble. The tourist’s bubble of a small village on a quiet island that’s focused on enabling me to enjoy myself.
I drink cocktails and eat more cake.
The path from the village that takes us back to our apartment runs adjacent to Lucy’s garden. Enigmatically pleased to see us, Lucy jumps up on the wall and barks excitedly, her tail wagging like a windmill. As we get closer, she lays down on the wall and I stop to take her photo. She doesn’t seem to mind. Then, suddenly, between the wagging and a full body-shaking sneeze, Lucy falls off the wall.
Her chain pulls her collar tight.
Lucy’s chain is attached to a wire that runs between two trees in the garden. It means she can run the length of the yard quite happily, but she’s restricted to the bounds of the garden. She can’t get over the wall to the path.
Yet now she’s the wrong side of the wall and her head’s against the wall. She’s pinned by the chain. Her front paws touch the ground, but only just. It she wanted to turn and try to scramble up, I’m not sure she could.
I stop photographing and put my camera on the ground. Lucy might be lovely, or she might not be. I watch her very carefully as I approach, she’s still a Greek outdoor guard dog, and having lived in Italy for a few months and heard terrifying tales of outdoor guard dogs, I’m weary of her.
She can’t stay like this though, so, with great care I put both arms around her body, and steadily heave her back onto the wall. Her tail wags faster than ever.