I arrived in Greece after forty hours on the ferry, very grateful that I had planned ahead enough to book a hotel in the port town of Patras. Luckily, the hotel had a late breakfast and a checkout time of noon. I headed into town to check things out and do some last minute errands, like buying a sim card and withdrawing some cash. Patras is a fairly big town, the capital of the South Peloponses. However, signs of the economic trouble in Greece were prevalent, with lots of boarded up windows and empty storefronts. However, I was able to do everything I needed to do with little trouble, although I did quickly learn that not many people spoke English and all of the signs were in Greek.
Greek is especially tricky since it uses its own letters, which look totally different from the Latin letters we use in English. Adding to the confusion is that there are different letters for lowercase and uppercase and some letters look similar to the Latin letter but aren’t the same (for example both Ρ and ρ are pronounced as ‘r’). I’m fairly familiar with the uppercase letters from all my friends who were in fraternities and sororities, but that hasn’t been overly helpful since I don’t really know what Latin letters they correspond to (although I did figure out Σ is S).
Troubles with language aside, Greece is beautiful. I took a bus from Patras to Corinth (Korinthos) which traveled along the coast for most of the journey, allowing for some great views. The second bus from Corinth to Sellasia cut through a couple of protected areas, full of mountains and trees. The family I am staying with lives about half an hour from Sellasia, and about an hour from Sparta (yes, that Sparta) in a small village.
I haven’t had much of an opportunity to explore the village yet, since it has been raining heavily since yesterday afternoon. Before that I started working on removing the grape leaves from the vine and will work on pruning them once the rain stops. I also chipped in and helped squeeze some grapes that the other helpers harvested. There are two other helpers here, a couple from Spain (the girl is Spanish and the guy is English). The grapes that I was working with will just be made into juice for our consumption, while some of the other grapes will be made into wine for household consumption. Our hosts, Phil and Shema and their daughter Annabelle have been really great and very welcoming. I am looking forward to working with everyone for the next few weeks.
While I’m here, I will also be helping out with the garden, hopefully we will be able to get a few cool season crops (spinach, kale, broccoli) going. The weather here is similar to that in D.C., possibly a little warmer, since we are in the southern part of Greece. Most of the days will be in the mid-seventies, and hopefully with less rain!