Life in Greece is starting to feel normal. Sure I am still amazed at the daily view of the sea and the smell of orange blossoms pervading the air, I still go to bed every night thinking that the day was magical in some unique way, but it has finally sunk in that I am not on vacation. This is life.
Here is a snapshot—November 29th.
Lada wakes us up at the crack of dawn for her morning snuggles usually by rolling up on her back, feet sticking straight up, insisting on long belly rubs. Sometimes if we’re lucky, we can convince her to go back to bed for another 30 minutes. This morning was not one of those—up around 7:00. Both Lada and Molly get breakfast before their walk.
Molly is the newest addition to the Koukouleiki menagerie. She is a sweet dog we found starving and bloody along the roadside one day in mid-October. At the vet the following day, she was diagnosed with leishmaniasis which, “is a disease caused by a parasite that is transmitted by a small biting sand fly.” The disease causes weight loss, hair loss, bloody ears, and a host of other serious health issues. According to the very knowledgeable German vet, if Molly didn’t receive the proper medication she would surely die, sooner than later. The vet guessed that her owner abandoned her once her disease became apparent. Now we are fostering her, making sure she gets her daily medicine, proper nutrition, and most importantly a tremendous amount of love. We love Molly, but this dog was a queen in her past life and deserves a one-dog household. Not one with a rambunctious puppy who won’t leave her alone. After she has recovered from the parasite, has all her shots, and is spayed we will work hard to find Molly her forever home, but for now she is a Thompson.
The walk today was more gorgeous than usual—66 degrees with a light breeze, blazing blue sky, and white fluffy crowds casting shadows onto the sea. Both dogs run free, finding fallen olives along the way to graze on. We’ve tried to eat olives straight from the tree but they are horribly bitter. Along with olives, the dogs graze on strawberry plant fruit and acorns. The walk is an hour loop through a maze of olive trees. This walk is what I appreciate most about living here: beautiful scenery, fresh air, and always something new to discover.
After the walk it is coffee time. Since it is such a beautiful day, I make it outside, Greek style. All the stores sell one burner butane stoves for this very purpose. Greeks like to drink their coffee anytime, anywhere. We drink our coffee outside today because it is gorgeous, and because everything taste better outside.
I don’t have much time today to do my usual chores because I teach earlier than usual. Since August I’ve been teaching English reading and writing to Chinese students about 10 hours each week. Truthfully, I am learning as much from them as they are from me. It is my weekly window into yet another culture, and it is especially sweet working with elementary age kids—they’re cute and love playing “Simon says.”
After teaching, Lydia and I head to Argalasti, 25 minutes away, to run errands and to volunteer at the dog shelter. Our first stop is the hardware store which is the busiest spot in town. The clerk is always eager to help with his accented English. Today I need an animal trap for the furry visitor living in the roof and a metal grate for the fireplace. Second stop is a vegetable stand for tomatoes, lemons, grapes, and yogurt. Lastly, we are on our way to the dog shelter.
I started volunteering at the dog shelter about a month ago. They are in desperate need of volunteers. During the summer they have plenty of help, but during the winter, one German woman does the majority of the work. Currently, they have seven litters of puppies between the ages of 8-weeks and 4-months, which is a record. In addition, there are a dozen or so older dogs. On my second day, while walking one of the older dogs, I found a box of seven 6-week old puppies. Lydia and I have spent the past couple weeks snuggling as many puppies as possible. They need to be socialized, and they need love. Today we learn that one of the youngest puppies died of a virus a couple days ago. Now we are worried about the rest of the litter.
It is almost 5:00 and realize we need to rush home to take Lada and Molly out on their evening stroll before it gets dark, and to avoid the wild boars that roam the hills. Jonathan has been busy working all day, but still managed to cook a delicious pot of local white buttery beans that pair perfectly with a free-run Greek white wine. Dark comes early. During summer we linger outside for hours; now we huddle around the dining room fireplace chatting about our dogs, the shelter dogs, sometimes the state of the world, and how it was another magical day in the Pelion Peninsula.