Living Through the Greek Crisis

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Kalo Mina

This is what you will get from every Greek on the first of the month; Kalo Mina. It means have a good month. I think it is a lovely thing to say.

Wednesday August 1, 2012,

Lets see… I haven’t started my week as usual with reading the Athens News to see the excitement for the last week. However I am at Stefanos’ (the wonderful boyfriend) work trying to blog to all of you who will someday follow me and work on ALL of my class papers due in two weeks!! How I will pull them off who knows?

I am going to re-post some early blogs I have written for my class because they are a kind of history for what has been happening. As actually the introduction was started on July 22nd.

Here goes…

Here I go blogging again…. It is my Tuesday morning ritual while the kids are enjoying their summer sleep in (or should I say I am enjoying their summer sleep in) sorry but I must add a LOL to that. I know that I should actually blog more because there are SO many things happening daily that I forget them when I sit down to blog.

You can bombard me with questions I have no problem answering them.

I wanted to tell you a story last week but I wrote so much that I saved it…

But first I realized last night while talking to my boyfriend (lets finally use his name as he deserves that) Stefanos. Every night we sit on my veranda with wine and talk about everything this is why I love him because we have so much to talk about, sometimes it is sad, sometimes happy, and many times political. You asked me, as it is necessary to include news from sources. The ironic thing is is that I really don’t have just because of what we are living here and I will touch on some of them today. You will understand why when I write them and they are closer details or examples than you could ever get in a news report.

Last week, late at night we were sitting out and we could hear my across the street neighbors (as every night) but this time Stefanos was listening. A person had come by and was telling my neighbors a story. He had some trouble (we didn’t hear what it was) it could have been someone not paying their rent and that might have been foreigners. Some people told him to call the nationalists to take care of it. That scared both of us! That is what it has come down to calling the nationalist to deal with your issues. I know that most of Europe saw the beating of a woman from the Communist party by the Nationalists party on a live talk show. The reaction to this across Greece was he should have beat, her more. In the Athens News around the same time, an Egyptian man was beat almost to death for nothing. The Nationalists are making big big threats against the foreigners here and it is scary especially when my very Asian looking daughter is trying to enjoy her summer and she stays out until all hours.  It is truly scary. Thank God they didn’t end up with the majority in the last election!!

Yesterday as my Monday morning ritual, I was reading the Athens news and looking for job postings in it as well. I found in the top news that the EU had meetings and they made a plan for Spain and Italy to have an a special recapitalization for their banks but not for Greece as they have already signed their lives away in debts. However, the better part of this article was this statement “He noted, however, that Europe had to take into account the impact of the austerity measures, especially on low income groups, and had no right to trigger a humanitarian crisis.” (Athens News) Because a humanitarian crisis is exactly what we are living! Which brings me to another story…

Last night we were talking about companies in Greece. I have heard this story many times and it has always struck me as odd. But lately it is really starting to bother me as it is completely ridiculous! In this country, they do business like this. It is a cash country except for big businesses where they write checks. You write a check to your suppliers but the suppliers cannot cash the checks until 6-9 months later. Of course, in this economy the checks most likely will not be valid because the owner of the check has no money. So they trade the checks with other checks. Sometimes they trade them with their own checks or checks from other people. The ironic thing is is that this keeps going around and around like a vicious circle. No one ever really gets his or her money. But the banks when you give a post-dated check to will give you a 80-90% loan on that check and you will take that 10-20% back when the check can truly be cashed. Am I crazy or does this sound totally, ridiculous? No wonder this country is in the situation it is! There is no logic at all?

So here is some good news…

My daughter who has gone to school in 3 different countries and 3 different languages has graduated from high school! It is an amazing accomplishment for her for all of us!! She is fighting me on uni but she will go!!!

My visa… Well I have a great lawyer thanks to Stefanos!! She got me a temporary visa (which means I can work IF they give it to me soon) But I must go to court in September for them to say yes for sure you can appeal this decision to take away your visa. My lawyer must have been really angry when she wrote this 27 page appeal that she gave to the judge yesterday because she gave it to them good!! She wrote that it is totally illegal that you have taken away my visa and completely  inconvenient. Not only will you give me back my visa but you will also reimburse me for my lawyer and all the trouble you have caused me during this period. Either the new judge will be insulted by this or I might actually get money. Anyway, I must go to court once more in September so I still sit on pins and needles. At least I can work.

I want to add some desperation to this as well but I think I might have to keep some of that private.

Stay tuned for more!!


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An explanation…

Well I must say this is a difficult task, blogging. I am not used to it at all. Although I am excited to see how many views or comments I might have received working out how to make the site appealing, easy to use for me and you who reads my blogs. I have spent hours changing the look and trying to add things.So please be patient with me. For the time being just enjoy the good and the bad of what is happening as I try to survive this crisis.

Because I have began this blog through my university I want to just re-blog what I have already written. However, my wonderful professor is not going to allow me to do this… Therefore, from today somehow I will begin again with the daily issues I am facing here.

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An Introduction

My class project is a kind of hybrid; blogging and working on the future. I had a great skype conference with my teacher today who insisted that I am living a piece of history that must be documented daily.  Although I am not living in somewhere like Syria which for me is a much more important piece of history than living this crisis in Greece! However, I suppose that because I am  American born and raised in a spoilt society, oblivious to the rest of the world it could be educating to share my daily experiences that I am facing as a single mom in a country that is not my own…

I will give you a little background of how I got here. I left California when I was 23 years old with $100 in my pocket. I was invited to teach English in Japan for a year. Fifteen years later a successful businessperson with five beautiful children I decided to move on. I sold my businesses, divorced my husband, and took my children for a new adventure in Greece. I thought I would be able to conquer Greece (ha ha ha) as I did Japan. It actually turned out to be a four-year holiday in one of the most beautiful countries in the world!

The truth is Greece is only a place for holidays! Silly me I fell in love (with the country). After four years I realized that I would not be able to conquer this country and I was so tired with all the running you have to do to get anything done here that I decided  it was time to go home. My oldest son was already there and he had been in Japan for a year before that so I really wanted to get back and finish raising him.

We moved to California where I found myself starting my first years in college.  However, my heart longed for Greece! I lived and breathed that country every day I was in California. Trying to convince everyone what a great place it is/was; better education for my children, free universities, free health care and of course the beauty.

*Be very careful what you wish for and what you dream for.

After almost two years in California, going to school full time and working on the side I finally made my dream come true! We were on our way back to Greece! Knowing they were at the beginning or close to the middle of a financial meltdown, I had a brilliant plan. I would make a library. I had the exact place I would make this library, the name, and the eco-friendly ideas to boot. What did I say above? Ah, yes IMPOSSIBLE to do anything in this country even if it is for something good.

I now find myself with daily issues that go from bad to worse…

We  live in fear that the nationalists might show up at our house to beat us almost to death because we are foreign. Or that I got an amazing job, a career of a lifetime using my Japanese and English only to have them not pay me and disappear. That money was the only way to survive on until God knows when.

In March, the Greek government decided they were going to get rid of all the foreigners who didn’t have a visa. Don’t get me wrong I was legal but it was only a paper stating I was waiting for my visa. So they took those away from us. I was told that I would go to court and appeal against their decision to take away my visa. I came to find out that NO I have to go to court first to ask if it is ok to appeal against their decision. If the judge says yes then I can appeal and have back a paper saying I am waiting to go to court. In the mean time I cannot work, my 17-year-old-daughter is also not allowed to work and she has to be scared every time she is out that the police might stop her and take her away. The ironic part of all of this is that the judge has told my lawyer that I has no employment so there is nothing he can do. Tell her to find some way to prove she has worked and all I need is the proof of the time I worked for those crooks who, disappeared. That would get me my papers back. The only thing I have is an agreement that he owes me money and will pay (which of course he did not ImageImage) and so I wait now to see if the judge will accept this.

On top of all of this, I have not paid my rent since April. My landlord has every right to kick us out. He came to Athens I thought to tell me exactly this. While he wants us to go he told me we have until the end of August to find somewhere else when and if I have money to give him as much as I can. Do not think he is rich actually; he survives on my rent alone and lives on an island. I spend so much time feeling guilty about this. It is not right but there is nowhere for us to go and not even away to get back to California. The nice thing is is that even in these hard hard times something happens; him letting us stay!

On a nicer note; this weekend with no money we spent three days at the beach. A new beach we found. There are only high rocks to jump from and very few people and the water is incredible! It is quite peaceful and gives you a few hours to escape reality and appreciate where you are. On Sunday, we went to our beach and this old boat something between a fishing boat and a small passenger boat you would find only in the islands pulls up in our cove. My boyfriend tells me how he loves those kinds of boats and we teasingly say to my 9-year-old daughter and his to go and swim to it and see if they will let you on. Of course, both those girls are crazy and they did just that. The next thing you know they are on the boat talking with the men and our boys decide to join them all five kids were on this small boat climbing up and jumping off, and chatting with the guys. Stefanos and I decide we better go and say thank you. So we swim out and thank them have a chat and they give us a huge bag of special clams that they dive for. They were from and island 27 hours away from Athens and had been on the boat diving for work for a few weeks. We thanked them and swam back but the girls stayed. Not long after they gave the girls a ride right back to where we were. It was a great experience for the kids something that happens only on islands and it was so nice to see that even in these hard times something beautiful still happens!

Thanks for reading of course I will keep you posted!