Isolation of quiet winters
Posted by Greeka on 07 Dec 2006
Who would believe that the quiet and almost deserted island of Amorgos is actually in an exact opposite state during the summer months. Winter may cast a dull pallor over the island, but its 1,700 inhabitants still manage to live through these months, in wait of the busy summer months that will follow. Amorgos is almost cut off from the mainland for most of the week, with the ferry schedule being changed for winter.
Mayor Nikos Fostieris was keen on discussing the innumerable difficulties that the locals face during winters, which includes everything from lack of ferries to the mainland, local transport or even a hospital, which severely deteriorates the healthcare available on the island. Ruing the fact that the only solution in case of an emergency was to get a helicopter from the mainland, he further added that it took quite a bit of fuss to make them send one in time.
Amorgos seems to be in a state of hibernation, quietly conserving its reserves for the coming summer. But on closer inspection, this appears only partly true, as you bump in to a couple of locals, who is more likely to be a teacher than anything else, as you walk along its almost deserted cobbled paths. Bringing about the only form of activity on the island is the Regional Teachers Association, which is one of the most active in all of Greece. The mostly young teachers seem very enthusiastic about their vocation and seem to possess an almost infectious zeal for life.
Philippos Skoularopoulos, more popularly known as the wandering teacher, has contributed to this cause immensely and has even set up an amateur theater group. He remarked that the initial idea was to involve children, but as they have too many restrictions regarding travel and timings, it became quite difficult. The only solution was to act ourselves, he concludes. Rehearsals occur inside classrooms and the teachers find great comfort there during the dull and dreary winter months.
Having no local transport, with private summer buses being locked up in garages for the winter, traveling around the island is difficult without a private vehicle. Even the teachers, who keep their days as full and busy as possible cannot escape the realities that haunt them, be it the ship schedules or lack of public transport. Thankful for the moments they share together, one teacher remarked that winter months brought about this feeling of being trapped, as you cannot get away from the island even if you wanted to.
Vourtsi, another village in the district of Kato Meria, brings some respite to the otherwise grim evenings for the locals. Located here is the local cinema club, which plays a different movie every week, and is quite popular with the locals, due to the entertainment it brings in to their lives. With no concept of DVDs on the island, movies are almost a luxury for the locals.
Rita, an American, who shifted base to Amorgos from Los Angeles, was initially apprehensive with the reception she received. But now everything seems to have worked out as the locals have warmed towards her. With her own crafts shop, Rodi, Rita and her two children, Isabella and Thomas are now one of the 1,700 locals who live quiet lives on the island.
The second largest port of Amorgos, Aegialis, is also the only place where you will find a restaurant open at this time of the year. The rest of places remain locked and boarded up for the winter, making the landscape of Amorgos quite drab indeed.
Antonis, an organic farmer, seems to have a unique complaint, apart from the usual list and exclaimed that the power pylon on the island is located right next to the school of Chora, making it quite unsafe for children. Nondas, another organic farmer, moved to Amorgos from Athens, giving up a lucrative law career. Calling the move a genuine attempt for a quiet life, he compared the situation of Amorgos during winters to Paros, which experiences something similar. Though only a quiet shadow of its summer self, Amorgos still manages to retain its charm and attraction, due to the genuine efforts of some locals, who love the island immensely.