Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter in Thessaloniki

I know everyone has been asking: Was he stuck on Mt Athos or something? I wish! No, it's just that it's not very interesting to post pictures of me sitting and working.

Of course, there has been some excitement here in Greece. Many people asked us about the riots a few weeks back. I thought about posting something, but I'd like to keep this blog relatively uncontroversial, and every time I thought about writing something, I couldn't do it in such a way that would mask my strong feelings. As mind-boggling as it may seem, I'm sure there would be one or two people who would actually disagree with the need for law and order. (Oops, there I go...)

In any event, we learned of the riots the same way you all did -- the news. In Thessaloniki, the riots were confined to a VERY small area of a few square blocks, and during the day (when all the criminals/terrorists--I mean "protesters"--were sleeping, as usual), most of the city was able to function to some degree -- even just one street off the center of the chaos. At night, of course, the "protesters" took out their rage at being socially oppressed by breaking into ONLY those stores which contained cell phones, electronics and jewelry -- oh and of course they destroyed shops which sold holy icons and other church supplies, but that was just for fun, not money.

Of course, the reason this was confined to this small area was because it was the area of the university. Here, by law, is a "free zone" for criminals. Police are not allowed on university premises. Ostensibly, this is to protect students' right to protest PEACEFULLY, which I say is great. In practice, though, the "protesters" (who often aren't even university students, but rather just troublemakers) run out across the invisible dividing line, throw a molotov cocktail at a poor, underpaid police officer, set him on fire, and then run back across the invisible line to complete immunity. Or they set someone's car on fire or loot someone's business--someone who actually WORKS for a living--and thereby ruins that person's ability to feed their family.

See -- even after all these weeks, I was still not successful at writing about this neutrally.

Anyway, everything has now returned to normal here, and while the "protesters" sleep all day and party all night, the people who work for a living are going about rebuilding what the others destroyed.

To head off potential objections, I should be clear that I support anyone's right to protest PEACEFULLY. But I do not agree they have the right to loot a business and ruin someone's ability to feed his children. Or set policemen on fire. Or shut down parts of the city so that people can't get to the hospital in a timely manner during an emergency. Or etc etc. Enough said.

In other news, this week we actually saw accumulated snow for the first time in our 2+ years (and third winter) here! It didn't accumulate too much (probably an inch or so), but it was something. The bottom photo is of our backyard. The one above that is of the little forested area next to where we live.

The top two photos are of Pelagia trying to keep warm this winter with the help of our two animals. : )