Wednesday morning I had the chance to be picked up at the hotel by one of the volunteers from Sandy’s institute. She took me in her car to the Archeological museum of Patras, and I enjoyed going there between the showcases and look and learn about the many thousand issues from old times, found in the ground in the region of Patras, that are exposed there. - The city of Patras has a really beautiful and quite new archeological museum.
After the visit to the archeological museum I went for a walk in the streets, and I came across a demonstration that took place that day in Patras. In the demonstration I noticed there were flags and slogans of different colors, the red flags of the communists, white slogans and black slogans (the anarchists). A young woman who was apparently supervising the demonstration with the group of black clothed young people - some of them had covered their face - told me not to take photos, probably (or maybe) out of fear of being registered by police!
In the afternoon Katerina, one other of the volunteers from Sandy’s organisation came to the hotel and took me for a walk in the town. We walked through the streets of the old town and she took me to a bar where a group of her friends sat talking, eating, drinking, smoking and laughing.
I was welcomed from them all, it was really a good ambiance there amongst these young people and I felt well in their company. I asked some questions about how they felt about the actual situation in their country. They did not feel good about it of course, but what can one do in a situation like this where almost everybody has to accept a reduction of income of up to 40%?
What they said and what I saw is thay they try to keep each other up, and they try to do things as usual and make what they can to live a normal life. Some said that in times like these of crisis it is more frequent that people stick together and that they help each other. In times of crisis the positive values of friendship and helpfulness are more common. On the other side, in countries where the crisis is not felt so hard, it is more common to see people who do not seem to care, for instance the huge drops-out rates from school in Norway, a country where wealth seems to be the privilege of almost everybody.
In addition to my questions about the effects of the crisis to the young people, I asked the same questions to some Greek colleagues whose answers mainly confirmed what the young ones had said: Many people have lost a big part of their income, pension, etc. The economic crisis is here due to the bad decisions of the politicians and the banking system. People in Greece have felt very unhappy and stressed during the last three years. A few people have committed suicide and many people have psychological problems because they don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Everybody is upset about this situation.
I also asked how they think they will manage to handle this situation during the next years. The majority of the Greek people have the opinion that the «receipt» given to Greece by the European Union and the IMF is wrong. In Greece now they have the opposite results, as the deficit is increasing instead of decreasing. One way to handle this crisis is to stop this «momorandum», i e not to follow this «momorandum». Nobody knows when and where these very strict measures will finish.
In the evening we (the two Norwegians, the only Storysavers guests who had arrived that day) were picked up by Sandy and dropped into a art gallery where there was the opening (French: arrosage) of Kara Vasilis’ painting exhbition. We were very happy to be there before going to have dinner with our host and her colleague in a good Patras restaurant.
I also experienced the famous Greek hospitality on Thursday when we (two Norwegian visitors) were invited to se the Folklorique museum of Patras, and afterwards were invited to a delicious luch in the home of the responsible of the Museum. We hade a few fine hours of friendly talk and relaxation. The same couple who received us for lunch on Thursday on Friday very kindly put me and my luggage together with them in their private car and started to drive me towards Athens, after we had waited one hour for the bus to come. We had bad luck and ended up in a blocked mainrod beacuse of the local population of Egio’s demonstration against the treath of moving a university faculty away from Egio.
One can of course understand their fear and anger of loosing their faculty, but that had the effect on my journey that I was in danger of not getting to Athens airport before my flight was to leave. The final solution was a taxi and a young taxi driver who drove me 200 klílometers in two hours and made it possible for me to drop my luggage at the air company’s counter just in time!