why do something in 1 day when you can do it in 3 months?

Seems to be the story of living in Greece. Although I recently heard its way worse in Mexico (and I’m sure in a lot of other countries).

Anyway, I’m in Athens. I’ve been here for a week today and looks like I might get lucky and be done by the weekend. Turns out that cold I couldn’t shake has turned into a saga which has me chasing tests. Fun Fun. No private health for me here. In fact, no public health really either… all out of pocket.

Hey, it’ll be worth it if I can get to the bottom of this thing.

Basically – I’ve had reflux for quite a few years – thanks to mom’s side of the family where it seems every second person has it. In your face doctors who said I needed to lose weight. All my aunts who have it are slim! Anyway… losing weight is good advice, whatever. Thing is I’ve never had it this bad before. And I had been great for months: sleeping without Mt Olympus at my back, eating whatever I wanted without paying a price. I got a cold and the cough turned me into Vomitting Veronica (anyone else seen Four Weddings and a Funeral?). I cough too much, I vomit. I eat something, I cough, I vomit. That’s one way to lose weight… I haven’t had a full night’s sleep for over 2 weeks, though thankfully I haven’t had to get up and vomit every night, just some… Its been “I’ll just go to bed and sit up a while” lately. sigh.

Mind you, these have been the most stressful 7 months of my life: making the decision to move to Greece, selling everything, finding new homes for my dogs… coming here, finding everything so difficult, looking for a house in my measley price range… Stress never helps with stomach related issues.

Add to that the fact that on returning to Greece I became a child again, unable to make a decision and feeling pushed and pressured by family at every turn. What happened to the capable take charge woman who lived in Tasmania? I really need to find her again…

Hopefully tomorrow marks the end of the tests and I’ll have an answer and, even better!, a way to fix this.

Then I can go back to Paros and muddle through my own mess there.

Other than that, what’s been going on… Well, I’ve applied for a few more jobs and am waiting to hear back from them. This is really uncomfortable you know? I applied for one job where the guy said he had others to interview and would get back to me. I didn’t hear from him for over 2 weeks and now he calls me and says the job is mine. I told him now I’m waiting to hear about 2 other jobs which, frankly, I’d prefer, and he gets angry and says “But I told you the job was yours and I told the others the position was filled”… Uhuh. Then why did you wait over 2 weeks to let me know? You didn’t do that, you interviewed everyone and then decided I was the best applicant. I wouldn’t have kept looking for work if I had a job lined up!

@#@$#!

And people wonder why I’m stressed.

Did I mention that the job is 10 hours a day 7 days a week for 67 months? Ugh. I was desperate to get a job but I did wonder why I’d want to work more on a greek island than I even worked on my own job in Australia… and for way less pay.

This is Greece. I’m still waiting to hear from at least 2 people I contacted re jobs the first week I arrived on Paros, over 6 weeks ago. If I don’t call them, they won’t call me. I’ve been advised to stop being the silly polite foreigner.

Yesterday and the day before I called a guy who was selling a car online about 6 times. We made a time to meet and I called to confirm, no answer. I was on my way and decided that I wasn’t going to go to the other end of Athens unless I spoke to him, so after more calls went unanswered I returned home.

And he was selling something! Hint: if you’re selling something you have to respond to calls from interested parties!

Ditto with the house I want to buy. I’m chasing up the solicitor and the agent and nothing seems to be happening…

My cousin has apparently been re-financing her house. She’s been doing it for 3 months now. Why does it take 3 months? Who knows. Its Greece.

Ads on FB are the funniest. You’ll see a listing for something like this:

For sale – 1 euro – washing machine xxx brand

Nothing more. So you contact them to ask for price, location, phone number. And you never hear back.

Or you’ll see the odd ad which goes like this:

For sale – 150 euro – washing machine xxx brand – Parikia

You still have to hope they’ll respond and give you a number to call, but at least the basic info is there, right? And you get a million people asking:

“how much?”

“where is it?”

“what brand is it?”

grrrr.

Ok people. Read the &#@%ing ad first, then ask the questions! And you sellers: if you want to sell something you kinda haveta get back to people!!!

Ok. I got it out of my system now.

I’m calm again now.

More later…

z

how to complicate life

Basically just move to Greece.

Nothing is straightforward here. I mean, why get a job done in one go? What fun would that be? You want to drag every little thing out for as long as possible to get every last drop of enjoyment out of it right?

Want to do your grocery shopping? Go to three supermarkets and a couple of mini markets to get the stuff on your list cause no one supermarket will stock all the items on your list. So much more fun than getting it all in one place.

Want to book a flight to Athens? Why just do it in one simple transaction when you can spend hours on the internet and phone asking why it won’t accept a card which you’ve used before on that very same site and that works in all the shops you visit? Where is the fun in that?

Want to get a drivers license (a re-issue of an old one since you remembered you used to have a greek one and they managed to find it on the system)? Easy. Just go to 3 different places to get about 4 forms filled out and pay for them, then go get photos… Arrive to have photos taken and get told you need to remove all your earrings. We’re talking small sleepers and studs here folks, nothing dangly the size of a small african country…

WTF?

I’ve been working on some of my critters for Easter – more anti-bunnies! Think of it as stress relief…

Right now I’m living in a state of limbo, not only do all my ‘great ideas’ get knocked on the head, but I’m also putting off doing anything till I know what taxes I’ll be up for once I start a job and get paid in Greece. Seems that even if you want to visit the toilet you must speak to your accountant first in case your output vs your input affects your tax status.

Today I was meant to be on my way to Athens… Instead I spent about 40 euros going to the airport and back cause the flight was cancelled due to bad weather. Ok, I get that. But man. That wasn’t an expense I had planned for. I didn’t wake up this morning thinking “Hmmm, I might take a taxi out to the airport, have a coffee there, then come back”.

Avrio. Tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be better or I get to do it all over again! We know how to have fun here!

The weather has been wonderful and shitty, not all at the same time. One week it will be glorious, the weather of the Paros of my dreams. The next its freezing cold and so wet I wish I hadn’t left my Bogz in Australia. Sure, the dogs (Romeo) had chewed the top off one, but they were the best boots ever.

The things I regret selling, giving away and just leaving behind – up till now (I’m sure more things will come to me as I live here):

  1. stick blender/bamix
  2. hand held mixer
  3. rice cooker
  4. waterproof boots as mentioned above
  5. industrial sized bottles of wood glue

As I said, the longer I stay here, the more I’ll realise I left behind things vital to living here or anywhere.

Other than that, things are great.

My cold has been progressing nicely. Every morning I wake up and there’s a new timbre to my cough. Its a nice surprise every morning. “I wonder what I’ll sound like today?”

I’ve almost lost my voice again but that’s ok. It means I don’t have to talk to anyone if I don’t want to. Besides talking too much brings on coughing fits. That’ll put an end to even the most scintillating of conversations.

I’m still stressing over to buy an apartment, hang out for the house of my dreams which I probably can’t afford anyway, buy a car or just walk, get a bike and play chicken with the cars, get a full time job, a couple of part time jobs (if those even exist) or try to actually live the dream and create, groom and sell things to earn a living.

For instance – I thought why not apply for a license for a stall where I can sell my own stuff? Its a job, I can set my ours hours, there’s no huge overheads, I like the boss… But the hoops I’d have to jump through (sit an exam to get some certification cause having a BA in Fine Art doesn’t qualify me to sell art and craft stuff I’ve made myself, apply to register a business for the honour of paying a higher tax percentage and no tax-free threshold and the thrill of paying all the related business expenses before selling a thing) only for a 5% chance of getting a license kinda dashed that dream onto the pretty cobble stoned streets.

It not only bashed the idea against the stones, it then held its head under the aqua Aegean till it drowned…

I won’t go into it. Let me just say that right now I feel like I’m on a torture machine that’s a cross between a spanish inquisition rack and being drawn and quartered – I’m basically being pulled in all directions by different people and expectations: my own, my family’s, and everyone who I ask the opinion of.

I know. I know. My own fault for not just thinking for myself and making my own decisions. I do. I always make my own decisions, but this is a new country and a new culture for me despite the fact that I’m greek, from this particular island. I’m not that greek. I haven’t lived here for many years and when I did I had mom and dad to lean on. Now I only have myself. So I gather advice from all avenues in order to understand things so I can make informed decisions.

The only decision I’ve made 100% so far is I need to see the accountant before I make any decisions. (You can call it procrastinating. I call it making a decision.)

This is something that annoys my friends no end. Its hard for them to understand my process:

Ask everyone you know, meet, stand in line with at the supermarket what they think. Then change my mind about what I plan to do every day, sometimes twice a day.

What they don’t understand is that maybe, perhaps, most of the time, I kinda, sorta, maybe know what I want to do. I’m just looking for confirmation or approval or a blessing. Like ‘9 out of 10 people I asked agreed that this option was the best’. They’re not professionals, so I could show you their faces, but I won’t. I won’t pull you into my nightmare.

So other than that, and that the bags under my eyes are getting to the point that they’ll count against my luggage allowance, I’m doing great.

z

the island is coming alive

Yesterday was Sunday and everything was quiet. Very quiet. Not much is open on a Sunday on Paros in winter. Sure, restaurants and cafes are still open, but hardly any of the stores in the main shopping street (the Agora) are.

This morning, walking through the Agora was a totally different experience!

Almost every second shop had it doors open and there were people inside working – setting up, renovating, getting ready.

The island is gearing up to open for the season. You can feel it in the air.

Which brings up an interesting subject…

As someone who always lived elsewhere, I’ve spent most of my life holidaying on Paros, only 3 years or so working here in summer. What that means is that Paros has always been a place to swim, relax, socialize, rest and get a killer tan.

Now I’m looking at living here I’ll either have a seasonal job (which means working flat out for 6-7 months of the year) or a full time job, which means I’ll be working pretty much regular 9-5, 5-6 days a weeks.

Today I interviewed for a receptionist job. I like working as a receptionist. I get to meet a ton of people and I get to be helpful. Things I enjoy. Its usually in a pleasant atmosphere (hopefully not full of smoke as it would be if I was to work as a waitress in a cafe for instance). But of course that means working 8-10 hours a day, most likely 7 days a week for 6-7 months.

OK so you tell yourself, you then have the whole winter to rest and do other things, like travel, visit friends, create. Cause you know you bloody well won’t have time in summer! In fact a lot of people who work long days like that just go home, go to sleep, get up and go out, then back to work to do it all over again.

I’m a maniac about the sea though, and my biggest nightmares have always been that I’m on Paros and I can’t get to the sea. So I’ll be swimming even if I was to knock off at 7pm. Even if it kills me.

And it all makes me think. Do I go ahead, I mean I need a job, its my first year here, I need to earn money… forget being creative. The dream can come later, once I’m more settled. So yes. I should go ahead. Get a job for now, any job. Work the hours and later I can do what I want to do.

Do I need to buy a house which will give me the space I want (need) in order to do my creative work, which will mean spending more than I currently have or want to spend… or do I compromise and buy something smaller that I can live with, live in, and not over extend myself financially? Ideally I want a 2 bedroom place with a view and space around it, the possibility of space to work as well… but will I need it? Should I compromise and live for the now and not the later?

If I’m working full time (at least during those months of the year) I won’t have time to work on my own stuff anyway… but going home to a place you love to be in, isn’t that worth the extra expense and the trouble of living in a place which needs work till you can afford to get it done?

Its a dilemma.

I really hate dilemmas.

I didn’t sleep at all last night thanks to not being able to breathe when I lay down, so I went to the clinic today and spent the better part of the morning waiting to see a doctor, having 8 holes punched in my arms in search of the one vein which would yield blood, and getting my results. My ‘cold’ has been upgraded to bronchitis. Thought not a really bad case. And my reflux is playing up for the first time in months thanks to the stress of it all.

Wonderful.

Off to take my new meds.

z

beware of greeks bearing bills

I have learned that everything you do in Greece costs more than you think it will. I’ve had to pay customs tax on just about everything I bought or sent to myself so far.

Live and learn I guess.

I hear that I can shop from Europe as there are no taxes on stuff imported from the EU. I’ve changed my search criteria on ebay. Now lets see if its true…

Thing is, when I’m making stuff or looking for specific supplies, I always find them on ebay. They’re cheaper and I know I can find whatever I’m looking for. Looking for some stuff in Greece is a chore, not to mention sometimes impossible. Even grocery shopping sometimes entails going to 3 different shops to get what you want.

I’ll learn. Its all a huge learning curve.

One day I might manage to live here successfully.

If not, Holland is just 3 hours away by plane…

Here is an example of how things are just made difficult when they should be mind numblingly easy. The other day (feeling sick and depressed thanks to the whole government/tax system here which likes to cut you down before you stick your head up) I ordered nutella pancakes with a scoop of ice cream. The waitress was like ‘Ice cream?’

‘Yes, just a single scoop of vanilla please.’

‘Um… let me go check with the kitchen.’

hm. Like is it THAT much of a stretch?

When it came out it looked like this:

I guess a single scoop was too hard to do, but an upside down cone made sense…

Meanwhile, as I mentioned, I’ve been sick with this pesky cold/flu/chest infection. I don’t know which and to be honest I don’t feel like walking outside in the cold to visit a doctor just yet. If it doesn’t start to clear up by tomorrow I might have to bite the bullet. Last summer I got a cold which turned into pharyngitis. I had no voice for a week, much to the delight of some people…

So, while incapacitated by the cold, the cough and boredom I did a bit of work. You know how it is… When you don’t feel well you also don’t feel creative. In the odd spurt of creativity I painted on some beach stones and other stuff I’d collected on my walks.

I finished these stone/rock/marble paintings last night. Of course I need to make a gazillion more if I want to make a living out of art. LOL

Bunny, in time for easter.
Cat on a small slab of marble.
A big handful of hedgehog.
This little mouse is painted on a bit of wall that fell off an old house.
And of course the quoll I did ages ago, for size reference. The others are way bigger.

So, there you have it. All those days trapped inside with a cold and this is all I have to show for it!

That and a runny nose.

z

beanie upgrade

Take one boring beanie…

Add pearls.

E voila! Blinged up beanie.

To replace the lovely beanie my cousin Zefi (aka the little usurper who came along and appropriated my name) gave me which I lost.

Just a quickie project share cause I’m bored. I’ve been sick with a cold which started as a sore throat and has now settled into my chest and made itself at home. I haven’t done much but what Netflix and lie around feeling sorry for myself for the last couple of days.

I hope I get over this soon. Its not fun.

z

one step forward, then bashed back into my box

I knew going in that this wasn’t going to be easy, but seriously!

I managed to get a few things done this last week and even managed to start working out at the gym. Its a whole new world here (or a step backwards) as I find I have to get used to working out with machines again. The group classes here are nothing like they were in Australia. Still… its a gym and I love weights so I’ll make it work. I mean I have to. I paid twice what I paid in Australia for this gym membership!

My stuff arrived from Aus and was finally released from customs. I only had to pay another $1400 on top of the almost $5000 I’d paid to get it here in the first place.

I had it delivered to my cousin’s house where he’s very kindly offered storage space in his basement. I spent an entire day opening boxes, removing what I wanted and what I thought I could use and fit here, now, and repacking and restacking boxes. At least now I have my own bedding, towels and winter clothes. I’m sleeping with my lovely soft doonas and feel so much better. I even hung my gorgeous tea bag dress on the wall so I have something pretty to look at.

I’m still sorting out stuff, finding places to put things, trying to make the space here work for me in terms of living and creating, but I’m getting there.

What I did manage to get done is find record of my old greek drivers license. All I had to do was pay (obviously) to get the paperwork done to apply for a re-issue of the old one. Which is great cause I got a letter from Vic Roads telling me they needed an eye test (like, didn’t I do one there when I applied to change from a Tasmanian to a Victorian license?) and opthalmologist report by Feb 14 (happy valentines day) or they’d suspend my license. Given I only got the letter last Thursday and they haven’t replied to my online query re extending the deadline and would they accept a greek opthalmologist report, I’m guessing I can no longer drive in Australia from tomorrow.

hmph.

I went to the medical centre to get a paper from the doctor telling the gym that I won’t drop dead while working out. Apparently I have to see a heart specialist for that. How much will that cost? Who knows. I’ll just keep turning up at the gym till they ban me if I don’t get the paper.

I bought a microwave, a toaster, a wooden spoon and few other little bits and pieces I needed in the kitchen. I really wish I’d packed my beautiful wooden chopping boards… And I made rizogalo and pumpkin soup yesterday. Yum.

I went to the only place on Paros which sells asian suppies and bought stuff to make a green curry and paid 32 euros for things I’d have paid $20 for in Australia… You know, extravagant stuff like green curry paste, soy sauce, egg noodles, basmati rice and other such exotic and wildly expensive luxuries.

I became disillusioned at the money offered for work here as opposed to what it costs to live. For instance I found out that its common for jobs to pay approximately the price of a cup of coffee per hour. Now go work that out. You have to work over 3 hours for a pizza…

In order to make ends meet you either have to work all the time, or eat very little. Forget having a phone or internet or power. How do people do it?

I went and asked about getting a permit to sell my own stuff in a stall over summer. I mean, I’ve done markets many times in Australia, how hard can it be?

The answer is: very hard.

Apparently this is the procedure:

1. I have to get in touch with the Ministry of Finance and Development (growth?) in Athens in order obtain a certificate of handicraft ability (or whatever that translates to properly). Whatever the correct translation would be, what it means in essence is that I need to get my degree from Australia recognised in Greece (obviously at some cost), which might necessitate I do some kind of exam in Athens (or, wonders never cease, maybe on skype) to prove that I’m an artist and make/do the things I claim to do…

WTF?

2. Get a tax number (got that)

3. Register a business (which makes sense since I’d have to give invoices for the things I sell …)* – at a market stall? Still… ok, go with that…

4. Apply to the local council for a permit for ‘outdoor sales’, which needs to go though the local committee (which includes the store owners committee). Applications for those licenses must be submitted from October till January so I’m already too late for 2019. Its illegal to just set up and sell, I’d have my stuff confiscated if I didn’t have a license and face hefty fines.

However, even if I do all the above, I have a 95% chance of getting knocked back. They just don’t give licenses for that kind of thing cause shop owners don’t want the competition.

They only granted ONE artist license this year and that was for a portrait artist working on the spot.

*If I get the business registration, I can sell to shops or through shops but I need a business number in order to give out invoices. Of course then I have to pay 185 euro a month for insurance plus at least 50 a month to an accountant to keep my books… whether I’m working or not.

I feel like one of those moles you wack at fairground games. Seriously.

So now I’m back to polishing up my resume in order to apply for a job to work for a coffee an hour. If I’m lucky I might even get a job that pays for 1.25 coffees and hour! Yippee!

z

avrio (when everything gets done in greece)

As you know I’ve been trying to set up a life here on the island. There are a few things you need to do when you move in order to live somewhere, right? Given that I’ve lived here before and have citizenship I’m lucky enough to be able to avoid getting a residency permit and work permit, but other things still need doing.

I need a greek bank account. A greek drivers license. And lets not even start on the mobile phone and internet thing again as my head will explode.

So, I go into the relevant offices and ask what I need in order to get whichever document I have on my To Do list that I feel up to tackling that day.

When I went in to ask about getting a bank account I was told I needed my ID or passport (tick) a mobile phone bill (easy), a utility bill (I don’t have a house, how can I have a bill in my name? apparently a relative’s bill will do…???) a tax file number, and a statement confirming employment (I think I read that right).

Ok. Sounds easy enough. Once I have a job. Till then I remain account-less.

When I asked about converting my aussie drivers license to a greek one I was told that I needed a tax file number. I said I had one (prehistorically speaking) but not on me at the time. The guy said, with a straight face, that that number was based in Athens, given I am now a resident of Paros (yipee!), that I’d need one for Paros.

Like… um… isn’t the taxation department one BIG department that covers all of Greece?

D’oh.

Then he proceeded to hand me seven (7) SEVEN pages of forms and tiny type instructions on all the things I needed to do in order to convert my license. I’m trying hard not to remember it all but I’m pretty sure it includes writing to the authorities in Australia and asking them to send back, in writing and STAMPED (cause email confirmations without official stamps don’t cut it here), a confirmation that I have indeed got a current license in Aus, then get that translated into greek by someone authorised, get THAT stamped to make it official, and…

I haven’t read the small type yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if they want to know the name of my kindergarten teacher and if my driving instructor had hairy knuckles. (I think she did.)

I’m actually considering going down to a driving school tomorrow and taking a driving test. Surely that would be easier!

But then I suddenly remembered I used to have a greek license. Maybe I can find it in a file somewhere – if I can only find the right government department.

Bet I’ll have to go back to funbags at the Ministry for Confused Drivers.

Its the whole envelope syndrome again.

What is the envelope syndrome you may ask… Its one of my brother’s stories. A vicious circle discussion with a civil servant that went something like this:

“I need a letter to open the envelope.”

“I have the letter. Its in the envelope.:

“I can’t open the envelope till I have that letter.”

“The letter is in the envelope.”

“I need the letter to open the envelope.”

“But the letter is IN the envelope.”

“I can’t open the envelope till I have the letter.”

… you can see how well that conversation went.

Another thing I’ve learned in my short time dealing with customer service in the greek civil service: waiting your turn doesn’t work 99% of the time.

Or should I say ever?

I’ve been waiting at front desks while someone chats on the phone, avoiding eye contact and pretending I’m not there. I’ve had people walk past me without acknowledging my presence with a simple yet polite “I’ll be with you shortly”, then sat there waiting while others just walked into the office for a chat.

I must write to Harry Potter and thank him for his invisibility cloak. It works great.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, some people have been really nice and helpful. Its the ‘way things are done’ which feels like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall. People can be really nice but its like “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do, my hands are tied”. You just gotta fill in that form, sign that paper, get it stamped, get the stamp authorised, then come back ‘avrio’.

‘Cause avrio is when things are done in Greece. That and ‘siga siga’ are the greek mission statements.

Avrio = tomorrow. Siga siga = slowly slowly.

Need I say more?

z

ps. Still loving it here.

do you mind if I eat while you smoke?

Everyone smokes just about everywhere here. You go out and come home smelling like you’ve been smoked, and not in the good way. (That was a trick statement. There is no good way.)

On the positive side, you do get used to it. When I first got here I couldn’t sleep in the same room with my clothes. I had to hang them outside to air. Now I barely notice it any more. Then again, walking on windswept streets to get home might blast off the worst of it… Who knows.

So, what’s new?

Well, I have two very interesting leads on jobs. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

My stuff is probably on Greek soil but in the hands of customs right now. I haven’t yet got an estimated delivery date. Or the bill. Cause you can bet there’ll be a bill even though there is nothing new in there.

sigh…

I woke up with a sore throat yesterday and its progressed nicely into swollen glands, headache and the occasional chill. I’m actually impressed it took this long for my old friends cold and flu to catch up with me!

I’ve met some great people (mostly women) who I hang out with. My social life has quadrupled since I moved here. Too much really, as I’m not working. Creative work. I’m doing bits and pieces, but nothing serious. My excuse has been that my stuff isn’t here… but we all know that’s just an excuse. I can make anything from anything. I’ve just been lazy.

I had some embroidery thread, some cotton rope and I needed a basket. The solution was obvious.

I bought some paint supplies in Athens, I picked up fabric offcuts, rocks are free on the beach…

My first rock painting (this time around). An eastern quoll. Cause it was cute.

I’ve also successfully managed to avoid joining the gym for 3 weeks. Firstly it was cause I would be going back to Athens to sort out my stuff. Then I kept having chores to do. Like visiting government agencies, real estate agents, looking at houses, moving from one place to another, stopping for coffee, you get the drift.

I have a lead on a couple of possible houses. More like apartments in complexes. Its so hard to find a place which is suitable for me and my hobbies… in my price range which is pitifully low. So I’m looking at all kinds of places thinking ‘would this work for me?’

I really want my own place, to do up as I like, to work in and live in… and to get another poodle!!!! I miss my dogs…

I have somewhere to stay till I find my own place, but prices ain’t gonna go down. I can’t say the same about my funds, which dwindle weekly.

Life is so expensive here. Some stuff is two or three times more expensive than Australia.

Then other stuff is very cheap. Fresh greek bread is cheap and delicious for instance.

But internet and phones are not cheap. And the plans suck. Big time. I got a new phone with a plan and its 18 euro a month for 24 months. That sounds like a great deal, right? But… I only get 1.2GB on my plan.

Are you for real? I used that up in week!!!

So I go to see if I can up it. No. I can only buy ‘packages’. Get this. These are the options I have:

1GB plus a gift of sms (cause they don’t go with your plan!) or 31 days for 7e

4GB for a week for 4.90e

4GB for the weekend for 2.9e

2GB for one day for 1.90e

SERIOUSLY????

I have been paying 18e for my contract, then adding a weekly plan, so basically I’m paying 37.60e a month. And, guess what? I can’t even do that, cause it turns out I used up my 4GB per week options for this month already.

F@#@*^$K!

So now I’m looking at getting a wifi connection of some sort. The house I’m at in town doesn’t have wifi (and the walls are too thick to steal from the neighbours even if I had their passwords!). It also doesn’t have a phone line. I’d need a wireless modem connection. The downside is that the best deal I found so far is 35e setup fee and ‘free modem’ then 25.60e month for 24 months. I might get unlimited wifi but it would cost me 45e approx a month. Might be ok one I get a job.

And jobs here pay pretty poorly.

Anyway, I love it and am happy to be here. I know things will sort themselves out. I’ll find a home. I’ll get a job. I’ll start selling my own stuff soon as I start making it… LOL

All I gotta do is hang in there and be open to possibilities.

z

life on paros… so far

This week I moved down to my grandmother’s house in Parikia. Earlier than planned due to my aunt wanting to put a kitchenette in the bedsit I was staying in at Souvlia (out of town). Great on the kitchenette. Great on living in town during the cold wet and windy months cause it means I can still get out and about easily without having to walk in all weather 3 klm each way into town.

Not so great when an old house in town has been only used in summer since the creation of time. All the doors and windows let in gales of wind for one thing. I spent yesterday pinning sheets over the ones I could and its helped.

I put a snake under one door but I need another two. I can’t put one under the door to the balcony as that door lets in water every time it rains… I’m moping up water in there every morning. Thank goodness the floor doesn’t slope inwards there is all I can say. I’d have to wear gumboots in the house.

And I gave my gorgeous (slightly poodle gnawed) Bogz boots away before leaving Tas cause I thought “hey, I’ll be living on a Greek island, I won’t need gumboots”… how wrong could I be? The little streets here are like rivers when it rains. The actual river beds have been concreted over to make roads and you can’t walk on them in the heavy rain. A lot of detours are called for…

Umbrellas are virtually useless if its windy.

You know, people go on and on about how cold it is. Its not THAT cold. But the wind is what does you in. We’ve had some glorious days, but when its windy… wow.

But I digress. I was talking about the house. I love it. I mean I love the fact that I have a HOUSE, with a bedroom and a living room/dining/kitchen. I have a cupboard for dishes and pantry, a fridge, a stove, a sink to wash dishes in. A bathroom. Sort of. But I have space here. Its a 2 bedroom house for a family of 3 or 8 or so. Its unbelievable that people raised families in these tiny places.

So, I was talking about drafts and gale force winds in the house. Well, for one thing there was a glass panel missing in the window in the kitchen. Interesting. Did you notice anything odd about the photo above?

Why not have a better look…

Yep. Someone thought, sink under window, tick. Tap? We’ll just stick it there. Oops. Can’t open the window without breaking the glass… Okay, no problem, we’ll remove the glass! Brilliant idea.

In summer maybe. In winter, not so brilliant.

I went out and got a piece of plastic, the type they use for table cloths here, and put it in the window. MUCH better.

My first two days the water heater (boiler, thermosifono, the kind of thing common in Greece where you have to plan ahead to have a shower, no impetuous showering in Greece!) wasn’t working. It got sorted yesterday so I was able to have half a hot shower.

Yep. Half. And mind you, I turned the water off while I was soaping my hair. Yet I still ran out of water. Either something is still not quite right, or the hot water cylinder is the size of a walnut.

At least I was clean and finishing in cold water isn’t as bad as starting in cold water…

But that’s not the whole story with the bathroom either. Its tiny. I know I said the one in the bedsit was tiny, but this takes tiny to a whole new level. It was an add on as the bathroom here was always downstairs, under the staircase. Which meant you had to go down stairs and out into the street to use your toilet or shower. Not uncommon on Paros surprisingly. As is accessing the top floor of your house via an outside staircase…

It has a huge vanity (made of concrete, it obviously has something underneath it, under the stairs), a squished toilet and the shower in the corner. Its basically a wet room. You need to cover the toilet paper with a plastic bag when you shower. Ok, maybe not quite, there IS a shower curtain so the toilet and toilet paper are safe, but the floor is always wet. I’m going to try to find a squeegee to use on it cause moping doesn’t get it dry enough which means you’re creating muddy footprints every time you use the bathroom.

Ah the joys of Paros bathrooms.

In the bedsit I had to fight off amourous octopus curtains and alternate freezing or scalding bursts every time I moved and hit the tap. Here I can step back from the tap but I’ll have to learn to shower in record time looks like. Probably a good thing… I do tend to indulge in hot water…

But it does raise the question… how on earth do greek people shower in these places, for years and years? When they plan a bathroom, do they really think “You don’t need more than a square foot to shower in. Surely you can manage in that space”… Not all greeks are tiny people you know…

Whatever. I love it here.

I’m still looking for work. Tricky as its not busy enough for people to actually hire yet but they will be soon enough and I need to get it out there. I’m trying all kinds of places, open to all kinds of work. But ideally I want to MAKE stuff, art, recycled stuff, anything creative.

I’m hanging out for my stuff to arrive so I can paint and sew again… to at least get some samples out to start showing people in shops.

I’ve visited a junk shop and I drool over things I want to buy to fix up, but there’s no way I can do that here. Even if I could work on stuff in the living room (ha) I can’t bring anything big up the stairs.

I’ll figure it out.

What I really need is my own place where I can do what I want how I want.

One day…

z

banks, post office and what the hell?

I just got a call from my mother. My package has arrived from Australia.

That would be the one full of things I forgot to include in my over-priced shipment and couldn’t fit into my limited baggage allowance on my flight. The package which cost me $250. The one I sent Express Post on December 18.

That one.

It only took a month to get here. Good thing I sent it Express…

The PO called mom this morning, they’d be delivering it between 9-12 today. She called me at 4.30, still waiting for it to be delivered, to let me know they wanted 101 euros in order to hand it over.

101 euros. That’s $160.57.

WTF????

I PAID postage. Threw the nose actually, but I paid nonetheless.

What can I do? They’re holding my stuff hostage. I have to pay it. And no, it can’t be customs costs cause its all used clothing and shoes and stuff.

I’m gobsmacked.

Welcome to Greece.

Have a great life.

I’m not looking forward to banks and tax and other such fun things.

Example:

A friend, I’ll call her Sheila (haha, aussies will get the joke), an Australian who lives on Paros part time, went to the bank last Friday. The automatic teller sucked in her card and refused to return it. She went in and asked to retrieve it. The teller got the card out of the machine and said she couldn’t hand it over. Cause there was no way to prove that Sheila was Sheila, the rightful owner of the card. Sheila had other cards, both her australian driver’s licenses and her passport with her, “See? Its me! I’m her! Its my card!”.

“Sorry” said the teller. “Its for your own protection. This card must be destroyed and we will order you another one. Come back in 10 days.”

“But its me! You can see my passport! Look at the ATM camera! It was only 2 minutes ago, you’ll see me put the card in the machine!”

“Sorry, this is how it has to be. Its for your own protection.”

I walked past the bank later that day and overheard this conversation:

Young lady walks out of the bank. Her waiting boyfriend asks “So… did they tell you you needed to go to Santorini?”

Another Aussie friend has been running back and forth trying to open a bank account. Finally got it sorted today. It only took a week of “come back tomorrows”.

Oh boy, I’m so excited about opening my own bank account.

And the mobile phone data thing…? Well, that’s a whole other can of worms. I’ll go into that in another time cause it really does deserve its own post. You’ll see.

On a positive note, I got a new greek ID card today. New photos, quick. New ID, instant! 15 minutes and I’m the proud owner of a new ID card with both Greek and English on it and a much less flattering photo.

Ah the joys of living in Greece.

z