The Junta and Control, Illusion of…!

A rainy Athens Saturday, but not just any rainy Saturday: it’s the 17th of November, 


the date commemorating the Athens Polytechnic student uprising of 1973.  A few days earlier – 14 November –  a tank had been sent crashing through the iron gate of the Polytechnic just down the street here from my neighborhood, Exarchia –   Though full disclosure:  while still edgy, especially after dark, that piece was written a few years ago; people now speak of Exarchia as “high-rent” and “chic”.

Anyhow, Greeks, at least young ones, seem anxious to use this day for demonstrations in parts of the city, especially after sundown.

Actually,  nearly everything I  know about tonight is word-of-mouth. Busloads of police have arrived in the neighborhood, but a search of the English-language papers here suggests that the biggest fight this week is still the current Church-State Disagreement.

As for me, I believe I have some reading to catch up on, and some post-market cooking to do,  after sundown.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about Control: First the photos, then the poem!

Coffee

Happy Place More

Where St Dominic Stayed in Rome —

Near to every Dominican’s heart, especially every SAN RAFAEL Dominican’s heart:

The 5thc. Basilica on the Aventine Hill gives its name to the street: Dominicans have been here for awhile, its ancient, medieval, and later parts commingling (here,in a great, silly look: an ancient bath and a later – 15thc? – fountain)

Inside, I sat for awhile in the well-worn choir stalls, thinking of The Great Ones, Dominicans here and other places I’ve known.

Outside, I found again the great cypress door which contains, among its panels, what is thought to be the earliest-ever depiction of the crucified Christ (somewhere there on the bottom…)

(No photo of the classic 3-naved interior which was, as ever, breathtaking in its sparseness))

 

In other visits, I’d walked out and seen Dominic’s orange tree; this time, this view, and it was a fine one.

 

minnesotaisrael@yahoo.com + Two Islands

 

A decade ago, Chagit and I  used that yahoo address for our students’ email projects.  Not long after 9/11, she somehow managed to bring her kids to Totino-Grace. We’ve kept in touch periodically over the years, traveling together in and around Tuscany at one point. 

Last week we met again, taking Blue Star Ferries’ finest, first to the island of Paros for a few days, then to Naxos. 

 

 

 

Paros’ distinctive streets (ok, and terrific shops) did not disappoint. The island of Naxos was an adventure: heat, dodgy driver, and an archeological museum which did disappoint.

I mean, if I see one more Cycladic figure…

Arch Museum,Naxos

Cycladic figures, Naxos

Naturally, there were SAVING GRACES: 

Tempted, but did not succumb

Tempting. (Naxos)

 

 

 Dinner Music, Paros.

Very grateful for this week with a great old (young!) friend.

img_3138

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

minnesotaisrael@yahoo.com + Two Islands

 

A decade ago, Chagit and I  used that yahoo address for our students’ email projects.  Not long after 9/11, she somehow managed to bring her kids to Totino-Grace. We’ve kept in touch periodically over the years, traveling together in and around Tuscany at one point. 

Last week we met again, taking Blue Star Ferries’ finest, first to the island of Paros for a few days, then to Naxos. 

 

 

Paros’ distinctive streets (ok, and terrific shops) did not disappoint. The island of Naxos was an adventure: heat, dodgy driver, and an archeological museum which did disappoint.

I mean, if I see one more Cycladic figure…

Arch Museum,Naxos

Cycladic figures, Naxos

Naturally, there were SAVING GRACES: 

Tempted, but did not succumb

Tempting. (Naxos)

 

 Dinner Music, Paros.

Very grateful for this week with a great old (young!) friend.

 

img_3138

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Athena’s City to Poseidon’s Temple –

Yesterday afternoon, Sawsan (Syrian mentee and marvelous human) and I had class. It had not been a particularly uplifting topic. We were ready to leave it and the city behind us.

(Visual: whiteboard with terms like  “SICK,” fever,” “cold,” “sore throat”)img_2593

Stratos (“like stratosphere, only without the fear”)  arrived, and we snaked our way through Friday traffic. As we passed the French Embassy, he slammed on the brakes and cried out, “Why the French? We like the French!”

(Visual: French Embassy with blood-like paint dripping from the outside walls and windows)img_2595

in Exarchia, where I’m living these months – Elizabeth’s studio apartment – it’s nothing to see exotic decoration, amazing graffiti.

3 Visuals: 3 examples, Exarchia neighborhood graffiti: 1.) : b&w geometric “city” superimposed on the ground floor of a building painted red, with a black, red, and white:”Talking Breads” sign . 2.) 6-stormy building with a white arm& hand grasping by the wrist and lifting up an extended black arm and hand3.) 2 (6-foot High)hands, open to reveal an uncapped fountain pen.

img_2572.jpgExarchia building-high grafittiimg_2520

The French Embassy was a jolt inexplicable to all three of us, but honestly? We quickly left it behind us.

Once out of the city and heading south, we drove along the Saronic Gulf, part of the Aegean . We stopped to look at these hot springs in a gorge formed a few millennia ago. Those dots of white in the background, on the right are umbrellas over tables at a cafe-restaurant. The place is a draw for the young & trendy as well as the old & arthritic. I resisted because we were on a mission.

But first, dinner. We ate outside, about 10 feet above the sea: fried calamari, the unfailingly delicious salad of feta and etc ( I could eat that cheese at every meal, and sometimes I do). For Sawsan, it was “potatoes,” by which she means fries – as ubiquitous as my Greek salad.

img_2607

No photos from dinner, where we were much closer to the sea than this picture suggests, but you get the idea: sailboats and a few yachts are set against  Aegean Blue.

Our goal, however, wasn’t the sea, at least not directly,  but [the ruins of] Poseidon’s Temple. Built of marble in 444 BC, same year as the Parthenon, it stands sixty-five meters above the gulf, so is nicely placed if you’re trying to placate the god of the sea. Since the Cape of Sounion is the southernmost tip,  sailors knew they were nearly home when they saw the gleaming marble.

We were there when the sun was setting.

img_2610

Sawsan-Temple of Poseidon

Sawsan – Temple of Poseidon

(Visual: BOTTOM –  My friend, Sawsan, standing, hidden in shadow,  beneath  this view of the Temple of Poseidon:  an orange-hued sky against the 16 remaining Doric columns, in 2 rows, with what looks like a giant urn in the center; TOP –  yellow-orange sun reflected in a pink sea, enclosed, foreground and background, by rocky terrain)

I remembered Byron had loved Greece, fought for Greece, and died here, but I’d forgotten his reference to Sounion (“Sunium”). Thank you, Lonely Planet for summoning it up in these lines from Don Juan:

  Place me on Sunium’s marbled steep
Where nothing save the waves and I
   May hear our mutual murmurs sweep.

 

Good-bye to the Old Year — in a Very Old Town

Kouraabiedes, kataifi, galaktoboureko, karydopita, melomakarona, etc, etc, (spelling often a guess here)
Oh, and baklava,
Jeanne and I have tried…[quite] a few!

EVERYONE was in the square today…

Great getting to know, in the flesh,  my video-chat tutee. Sawsan — isn’t she wonderful? img_0140

 

WHY TRAVEL?

“Consciously or not, what we travelers are seeking nearly every time we board a plane is the feeling of foreignness. We travel for the thrilling (and sometimes uncomfortable) disorientation of losing ourselves in a new culture where things look, taste, and sound different, and to understand ourselves freed from all of our familiar constructs.”
— Pilar Guzman, Jan-Feb ’18 Traveler Magazine

This might be another reason we travel:

And so is this – somehow,  I’ve hung on to this card from a little restaurant a gentle walk from the Acropolis: To Kati Anno. Sideways or not, it could be fun to revisit it, looking at things from a different angle.

MUCH and many to  MISS in Minnesota, it’s true…

 

 

BUT IT’S TIME TO GET CRACKING!(I mean, of course, packing).

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