Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Walks in Greek Culture
My favorite walks beneath Palamidi Castle and Akronafplia here in Nafplion, Greece are exquisitely as I dream of them when I am gone. The breathtaking Mediterranean blue extends out from the tiny beaches below me, reaching for the mountainous island shores in the distance. The sun sparkles and dances on the water as if it shares my glee.
The road from little Arvanitia beach just around the corner from us (a civilized city beach with cafe, cabanas and ladders with which to lower one's self into the water) leads to the longer Karathona beach a couple of miles away. The unpaved road sits beneath the castle and is dotted with pines, olive trees, cypress and spruce as well as barely-still-blooming oleander and wild bougainvilla and other varieties for which I have no names. The cliff walls are stained a deep orange and dusty blood-red running down from the top as if they have overflowed from the inside. White butterflies--fooled into being by warm sunshine lasting only a few days-- flitter past my head, on to their own nebulous destinations.
An old man sits on a bench under a tree twirling his colorful worry beads. True to Greek form, he only greets me after I have smiled and offered, "Kalimera." Good Morning. It took us a long time to figure out why the Greeks simply stared at us with scowling faces as we traveled the islands and small villages of the mainland. A dour face and long stare was the usual response.
We declared it to be an angry curiousity and the culture extremely harsh toward Americans.
Finally, our Greek friend explained that they are awaiting our greeting as they would never impose themselves without first being invited. And sure enough, once we offer it, the angry faces brighten up like glittering Christmas trees and the "Kalimera" is pronounced as if we have known and loved each other through thick and thin, for lifetimes.
The angry face appears to be a guarded drawbridge in their cultural kindgom but the password lowers the bridge for entrance to each princely castle.