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Thursday, June 21, 2007

A LITTLE DRAMA AT THE BEACH

June 19

The temperature is 35 and rising. You can't move without sweating. It's quite unbearable and difficult to breathe. I decided to get some respite from the heat by heading for the beach, but I ususally go early a.m. or late afternoon and today I didn't getthere until mid-day. Crazy! One good thing here is the transit is all airconditioned. I took the trolley to Syntagma and caught the tram from there. The tram line runs through town then all the way down the Attic coast to Voulagmenis. They made it to sere the Olympic Village and though there were many protests, I think it's an excellent addition to Athen's very slick transit system. And it certainly makes for a pleasant excursion to any of the beaches.

The beach Chris and I always preferred is now charging too much entry and they've chopped down the lovely shade trees we used to picnic under. So Edem is the next choice. Free entry. But because of getting there at midday I ended up opting to hire an umbrella and chair (no shade otherwise) so it cost me 7 euro. the beach isn't as nice as those at Naxos, stony and very crowded. Lots of children. And I'd forgotten how demanding some Greek kids can be, screaming and throwing tantrums. But who in their right mind brings a little kid to the beach in that scorching heat! No wonder they were cranky.

A group of men parked themselves nearby. I am certain they weren't Greeks, though they spoke Greek. I'm sure they were from the northern Balkans and there was something sinister about them. At least, I got bad vibes on sight. One was very hirsute, covered with black hair like an ape except for his bald head. They set up their own beach umbrella and towels. Awhile later I heard them laughing and noticed they had acquired two air mattress, the kind kids use, one pink, one blue.

There are no spare changers here in Greece except the occasional old gypsy woman or disabled guys. But there are many hawkers selling everything from sun glasses to beautiful sequined beach tops and kids toys. Mostof them seem to be Indian or Sri Lankans and they are gnerally polite and unintrusive.

Suddenly there was a big fracas. Hairy Guy was pushing one of the Sri Lankans and punched him hard, sending him flying backwards onto a plastic lounge chair which broke. A crowd gathered, about ten of the hawkers, some Greeks and the Shapely Lifeguard and the guy who rents the chairs. The scneario went on for quite awhile and eventually a police officer showed up. From what I could make out, Hairy Guy had taken one of the Sri Lankan's air mattresses (the pink one) and refused to pay for it, or perhaps had stolen it?? Anyway, he went off with the cop. The hawker got the airmattress back and it seemed to be over. But later Hairy Guy returned and stared a huge arguement with Shapely Lifeguard. She was giving him a piece of her mind, small and decorous as she was, and not taking any guff from Hairy Guy. (I don't think they have lifeguards that look like bathing suit models in Vancouver. Wow!) Which brings me to observe how here in Greece you don't have to look like Jennifer Lopez to bare yourself on the beach. I've seen plenty of women of a certain age and size strutting their stuff in two-piece bathing suits, sometimes even topless. Nobody makes a fuss here and it's quite acceptable. You can even crack open a cold beer on the beach if you want to. That's what makes it so fun to be on the beaches here. And too bad it's not like that at home, but unfortunately too many people in North america apparantly don't know how to behave!

NEXT: An Archaeological Field Trip

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