Saturday, September 01, 2007

Our New Car and a Hike

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We got a car! Thank you all very much for putting up with my shameless ad on here for the last few weeks, and a VERY big thank-you to everyone who made this possible. This will be an enormous help!

(This does not mean, however, that we are refusing further donations. There are still plenty of expenses – maintenance, insurance and inspection, not to mention gas, which is exactly TWICE what it costs in the U.S. And you thought the prices there were bad!)

After searching through various classified ads and used car dealerships, we fell into a really good situation. We were talking to a local priest-monk, Fr Gregory, and he mentioned that his brother was selling a car. Fr Gregory took us to look at it and we really liked it. It was a little more expensive than we had hoped to spend, but we managed to negotiate the price down about 20% and we jumped at it.

His brother, Panayioti, has been extremely helpful. While we waited to collect enough money to get the car, he helped me take care of all the mountains of paperwork (Yes, here in Greece, if you can believe it. As a result, I now have my very own tax ID number in Greece, which means I’m now liable to them as well as to the IRS. Fortunately, though, you can’t get blood out of a stone, as they say.). We finally took possession of the car last night!

It’s a 1997 Peugeot 306. It’s a bit old, but only has 109,000 kilometers on it (about 65,000 miles), and it is in immaculate condition. (I do believe, by the way, that the odometer is unaltered. It is common practice in Greece to, hem, adjust the odometer, but I don’t think that’s happened here.) Panayioti is the most organized, thorough, and detail-oriented Greek I’ve ever met. This guy should run for public office here. He’s very attentive to regular maintenance – in fact, he’s going with me to the Peugeot garage in a couple weeks and then on to the final paperwork hurdle, passing inspection. (It won’t be a problem, but it helps to have a Greek with you in anything like this.)

As we paid Panayioti for the car, he wished us “Kalo Riziko,” which he told us was the traditional Greek wish when you buy something new. Literally, it means “good roots,” but in the sense of “may it have a good beginning.” However, it usually is only used for buying a house or a car. When you buy a new pair of pants, for example, he said, you say “Kalo Fortigo,” which means “Good wearing”!

The Greeks say “Kalo…” for everything. During the day, you have good day, good afternoon, good mid-day, good late afternoon, good evening, and good night. You have “good month” for the beginning of the month and “good week” for the beginning of the week. Today, Sept 1, we had “good ecclesiastical year.” When you eat or drink something, you say “Good appetite” and when you’re done, you say “Kali Honepsi,” which means “Good digestion”! All these “goods” could be a whole semester in a Modern Greek class!!

Our first trip in the new car was to Carrefour, sort of the French Walmart. It’s located outside the city, near the airport, making it very difficult to access without a car. They have everything there and good prices, so just being able to go there will save money on shopping.

Today, Saturday, after working for awhile (my latest project is editing the English translation of a Greek novel), we took a break and drove up to Hortiati, a mountain village overlooking Panorama. It’s about 20 minutes up the hill from Panorama, and one time, a several months ago, I took a really nice hike up a mountain with some friends. I’d been telling Pelagia about it ever since then, and we finally had the chance to go today, now that we have a car. Thank you!

Tomorrow, we will be able to drive to our monastery for Liturgy in the morning. (It’s about 2-3 miles away.)

The first three photos are from the hike today.

The bottom photo is of the car. ( :

A few more photos from today are available here.

Thank you again!!

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