May 12, 2014

The Other Side

Fishing nets on a boat.

I cannot help but think of the underbelly of this place.  What really goes on?  As sure as the myths are full of complex enterprise, conniving, interference in human interaction, so it is here today.  Stuff happens.  Perhaps it is even more so in a small village.  I can only feel it.  As an outsider, I can’t talk about it even if I had the language.  The looks become obvious when I shop at one store or another and then pass by one that I shopped at yesterday.  Two bakeries side by side are watching to see where the shoppers go and the clerks seem pitted against one another.  Competition must be fierce in a place like this even though it isn’t immediately apparent because it seems so carefree and easygoing—a lighthearted, welcoming Greek spirit.
A ship in port for several days.

A crumbling area on the road to the Chora.
It is hospitable.  People are very nice, always say hello on the street and are courteous.  I wouldn’t hesitate to walk anywhere alone and am confident in being safe.  Yesterday, walking up the mountain I went through areas of tall cornstalk like grasses and went for long stretches sometimes hidden from sight and beyond where I could call for help.  While on the road numerous motorcycles passed me by.  It didn’t occur to me that there would be trouble and this is not some naïve traveler’s notion.  There were areas in Athens or in Piraeus that I wouldn’t go, but here on the island I generally feel protected.

But what nefarious enterprises are afoot?  Or, if not nefarious, then what?  I want to know the real story.  What are these young men doing riding from one place to another stopping at various places as they go?  They are not food shopping.

Fence blocking off road to an old mine, I think.
What is that young man doing who rides along the dirt road in front of my place?  He stops and waits at the main corner, takes a signal from a man in a car and then rides back?  We have cell phones today so it isn’t as though we need to deliver messages by hand.  Who gets hired to do what construction job?  What resistances are there in the organization of the city and how is the food distributed when it comes off the boats?  How do the farms operate?  What about local wine making?  Taxes?  Water?  Trash removal?  Sewage?  Who pays what?  What happens if you don’t or can’t pay?  Is there a jail here?  I haven’t seen a policeman or a local government building.  Ships come and go.  Properties are bought and sold.  Land is being parceled out.  There’s an underbelly, and now that I’m in the daily comings and goings like everyone else, I can’t help but wonder how things really work.