Friday, September 08, 2006

Paperwork Intermission

I interrupt this account of my journey to Mt Athos to bring you an important paperwork update.

No, seriously, my ongoing story about the Holy Mountain was delayed today because we had an appointment at the hospital. We needed to get a certificate stating that we are free of contagious diseases so that we can finish our application for a residence permit. (Notice I said that we needed a certificate stating that we were free of contagious diseases. Whether or not we actually are free of such diseases seems to be secondary.)

So we set out today on the bus down to Thessaloniki around 8:30 for our 10:00 appointment (we were playing it safe because we weren't really sure where the hospital was). Well, in very typical fashion, we found several people who went out of their way to help us. I simply asked on the bus where the hospital was, and it actually turned into a pretty lively discussion among every one on the bus. Finally, one lady (who even spoke English) said she would actually walk us there (this sort of kindness is not unusual).

She took us right to the hospital (well out of her way) and even spoke to the receptionist to find out what we needed to do. (The receptionist inside the hospital was, of course, smoking. Pelagia and I determined this will make her trips to oncology more convenient.)

First we had to go to your typical clerk behind a window and pay a fee of 6 Euros. Then we walked around to an office door and waited there until someone came out to get us. This was apparently the doctor. We gave him our passports and told him what certificates we needed. He wrote our information down in a big book (which Pelagia estimated to be at least 70 years old) and then sent us back to the clerk to pay another fee. Here we paid 4.10 Euros and then went to get xrays of our lungs in another building. After this we returned to the doctor's office, with our xrays in hand (and of course our photo and a document with a lot of stamps attached to it). Here, the doctor again filled out a lot of forms and then looked at the xrays for about 5 seconds each. On the basis of this, he issued us certificates stating that we were free of all contagious diseases.

Now, I'm no doctor, but it seems hard to believe that he can make that determination just based on an xray of our lungs. Still, I can't complain: we were done in less than 2 hours and -- most importantly -- there was no stool sample required.

And the best part is that we get to keep these enormous xrays of our lungs (I'm holding mine in the photo). They're valid for the next 6 months, we were told. Pelagia is considering hanging them on our walls.

Speaking of Pelagia decorating, I came back from Mt Athos to learn that Pelagia has already found a paying job. Our neighbors, the Lillies, own a school to teach English, and Pelagia has been hired to do some interior decorating/fixing up. She really enjoys "budget designing" -- this may be the start of a career for her!

Anyway, after our hospital adventure, we stayed in Thessaloniki and visited two enormous churches -- Panagia Dexia and Agia Sophia. I tried to take some photos but they didn't come out because it was too dark inside. Suffice it to say, though, they are magnificent, old churches. The dome of Agia Sophia features a famous depiction of the Ascension from, I believe, the 10th century.

I hope to finish the Holy Mountain story tomorrow (if anyone is constantly checking back, waiting eagerly for it). ( ;


MOM said...

You had me in tears of laughter following your certificate adventure....

I am not surprised that the decorating talents are being tapped...

I'll be checking back for further adventures!

Anonymous said...

so funny!