is built on a stone base with a clay tile roof. An elegant metal fence surrounds his house. Out of his roof pokes a thin chimney. The cumulus cloud above it in the distance looks like a puff of smoke.
To see the local sights, we drive up to a nearby lake. It is a damned-up river surrounded by a 6 foot tall chain link fence. As we drive along the pockmarked dirt road, concern grows whether the car’s axle will finish in one piece. Halfway past the lake, we come to a section of the fence that has been ripped down. The concrete pilings supporting it snapped in half like candy. Barbed wire that was on top is now firmly pressed into the mud. “Bear” is the translated reply.
We return to the house just in time for lunch. Trifon’s mother and a Dr. Neoptolemos Vossinakis join us. Neo is a Greek nationa wo isl fluent in multiple languages. Besides lecturing at a Swiss university, he consults Greek businesses on selling to foreign markets. Thomas’ wife also joins us along with our host Ms. Kyriakis.
Holy shit Greek people can talk. At a table of eight people, seven talk simultaneously while listening and exchanging intelligent replies. Unbelievable. I sit there in awe. And everyone keeps smiling. I begin to wonder if a bitchy resting face in Greece is an almost smile? (I later find out that Greeks rank #5 in the world for cultures that smile the most. Americans only rank #26) (source The Atlantic “Why Some Cultures Frown on Smiling” 5/27/16).
Our lunch at the Kyriakis household starts with moonshine called Tsipouro which is made from the stems of wine grapes and has an anis taste. In other
parts of Greece the name varies, but the moonshine stays the same. The meal is served with bottles of red and white wine whose Greek names I can’t read. But they look a lot like the word “Kleptomaniac.”
At the end of lunch dishes are replaced with framed pictures of children. Kyriakis’ two daughters pose with their fiancées at their high school graduations. With the amount of smiling going on, I wonder if dentists will be the new Apex predators of the struggling Greek economy. Though the way everyone is talking, Greek politicians won’t give up without a fight.
As we drive back to Kastoria and I get ready for my trip home, I wonder about the E.U.’s expectations for Greece. Is it realistic to expect Greeks to have German levels of efficiency? So much time of every day is spent maintaining social harmony with every other person you meet. Greek hospitality is legendary, but it takes a lot of work. Maybe this is to Europe’s benefit. The last time the Greeks started paying attention to their European neighbors, they ruled half the world.