Extending the Hand of Friendship

New Year’s Day on Symi was clear and bright and the thermometer made it up to 12 degrees at midday, falling rapidly to a minimum of 4 degrees centigrade as soon as the sun set behind the Vigla. A new spell of rainy weather is already moving over Greece and is expected to reach Symi in the course of today. The weather is expected to remain unsettled and showery for the next few days, with occasional thunderstorms and downpours as well as some strong winds early next week. The whole of the Mediterranean basin is experiencing stormy conditions and low temperatures at the moment and the outlook for the Epiphany Day celebrations on 6 January is decidedly chilly for most parts of Greece, including Symi.
Greece has been in the international media a lot in recent weeks as the riots in Athens and elsewhere gave the press something new to talk about apart from financial scandals and the interminable ‘credit crunch’. In a recent report on the BBC’s website www.bbcworld.com entitled Riots Push Greece to the Edge, filed by Malcolm Brabant on 25 December 2008, I was interested to read his last paragraph:
“So how can Europeans stop Greece's social uprising escalating? Well, for a start, they could help by taking a holiday in Greece. Whatever the dire threats of the would-be revolutionaries, the riots are not going to reach the thousands of idyllic beaches and inspiring archaeological sites. But if you are coming to Athens in 2009, pack a gas mask with your bikini, just in case.”
Sound advice. I just wonder if the international media will be as eager to report the fact that Greece has just provided two transport planes full of humanitarian aid and medical supplies including blood sufficient for 70 transfusions to the people of Gaza. Hellenic Aid, part of the Foreign Ministry of Greece, in conjunction with the Greek Red Cross and the City of Athens has put together one of the first deliveries of humanitarian aid to Gaza, just as Greece was quick to send a hospital ship to tsunami-stricken India and Sri Lanka. On a smaller scale, the continued good relations between the people of Symi and Datca have their origins in a boatload of clothes and other supplies from the people of Symi to those affected by the Turkish earthquake in 1999. There is a lot more to Greece than the scenes of anarchy that make such sensationalist television footage, and extending the hand of friendship to those in need is very much part of the Greek psyche.
Happy New Year to you all.

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About this Blog

I sailed into Panormitis Bay, Symi, by chance one windy July day in 1993 and have been here ever since. The locals tell me that this is one of the miracles of St Michael of Panormitis. A BA graduate with majors in English, Philosophy and Classical Civilisation, the idea of living in what is to all intents and purposes an archaeological site appeals to me. Not as small as Kastellorizo, not as touristy as Rhodes, Symi is just the right size. I live on a small holding which my husband and I have reclaimed from a ruin of over-grazing and neglect and turned into a small oasis over the course of the past 22 years. I also work part-time for Symi Visitor Accommodation, helping independent travellers discover and enjoy Symi's simple pleasures for themselves.

This page is kindly sponsored by Wendy Wilcox, Symi Visitor Accommodation.

Adriana Shum

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