Dear Friends of Kythera,
if you are as interested as I am in stopping Kythera being turned into a wind-generation plant for the Peloponnese, then we need to keep up the heat on the local government on the island. If you have been following reports in previous newsletters, you'll know that plans have been submitted to construct about 80 huge wind-generators in the centre-west of the island between Mylopotamos and Logothetianika, and above Agia Pelagia. The island only needs 5 generators to cover its own needs. Due to the fact that massive infrastructural changes would have to be made on the island to allow construction - new multi-lane straight roads bypassing the villages to transport the tower-and rotor pieces; scores of additional unsightly electricity poles added to get the high-voltage electricity to the common point on the coast where it will then be transported by underwater cable to the Peloponnese (and then another one-hundred-odd kilometres to the relay-station; not to mention the damage to existing roads caused by hundreds of trips the cement-trucks have to make to each generator site... - the actual energy used to create the wind-farm could actually exceed the electricity produced by the finished products. And if the fate of broken wind-generators in the USA and Germany is anything to go by, within 20 years Kythera would become a wind-turbine grave-yard. Regardless of whether the turbines are turning or not, Kythera's reputation as an unspoilt island will vanish if the turbines are constructed and tourism may suffer as a result.
Despite undertaking to oppose the construction - he himself agrees that a wind-farm of the size proposed is completely inappropriate for Kythera - the mayor of Kythera has still apparently neither managed to send an official letter to the electricity commission in Athens, nor has his municipal council commissioned an environmental impact study. Unopposed, the proposals will pass the electricity commission's evaluation and then be rubber stamped by the minister in charge. Once approved, construction will begin, and stopping the process will be much more difficult.
What can we do? Inform Kytherian friends and relatives on and off the island of the situation. Protest to the mayor's office by post or fax. Call village and island leaders to inform them of your views. Question whether Deputy Mayor Makras' cement monopoly and the resulting conflict of interest has influenced his decision to support the wind-farm project. Get your local Kytherian association to send a letter of protest. Here the address details:
Mayor's Office, Kythera Municipal Council, Hora, 80100 Kythera.
James Prineas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
> 52 Weeks In Tsirigo – And So the Circle Closes.
Every time a village elder dies, a precious volume of life closes forever. The world they witnessed, their intricate knowledge, their joys and sorrows, the songs they sung and their laments, their handicrafts and the language spoken daily, fades away. All their knowledge and wisdom is sealed-up like a zip-bag, to accompany them in their passing. Yesterday, Monday 13 October, my grandmother Dimitra (Frantzeskakis) Zantiotis passed over at the ripe age of 98, taking with her the precious tapestry into which we, her family, are embroidered.
My gift has been to have had my Kytherianness effortlessly thrust on me through my maternal grandparents. My yiayia (grandmother) Dimitra and papou (grandfather) Georgio never left Kythera (apart from a brief visit to Australia in 1974) and maintained a full rural life on the island well into their early eighties. So when we first visited Kythera in 1970 at the age of 5, my brother and I had the full Kytherian experience - donkeys, goats, chickens, rabbits, an abundant garden, water-wells and the olive-fields.
Born in 1910 into a world torn between subsistence farming and rapid urbanisation on the thresh-hold of World War I, my yiayia Dimitra Zantiotis story is not unlike others of her generation. Born in Karavas to Georgios & Zoe Frantzeskakis, the sixth of eight children, of which the eldest two sons had been sent to Australia at the age of ten. She was lucky enough to have to have been schooled as far as third grade, allowing her to read and write throughout her life. As a teenager she tended a bed-ridden elderly woman, worked as hired labour in fields and, in a show of enterprise, had a donkey with which she transported materials and goods (today's equivalent would be to own a moving truck).
The tale of how she married my grandfather Giorgos at age of 28 is an epic comedy of errors. My papou was a merchant sailor sailing with other Karavites (locals from Karavas) when their ship briefly anchored off Agia Pelagia so that the crew could quickly visit their families. My papou was carrying two undeclared blankets for his Panayia Despina neighbour. After the sailors had disembarked and rowed to the wharf and climbed up to land, someone noticed the packaged blankets and alerted the Customs Officer. While my papou was eating lunch with his brother's family, the Customs Officer took my papou away for questioning. An ethical man not familiar with being in custody, his fellow Karavites sailors had rehearsed him in what to say in the very unlikely case of there being any trouble with the blankets. 'Just say its for your fiancé...... I have a sister in-law Dimitra - say its for her.' And so my grandfather did, re-boarding the ship the same night. Word got out quickly on the local grapevine that Dimitra was involved with Giorgos, although she had never met him, and she was thus inadvertently logothesmeni (betrothed). My papou continued to sail for two years, and when he returned he indeed married her.
My grandmother learnt to love my grandfather and they had six children, five of which survived: my mother Matina, Harry, Thanasis, Panayiotis and Zoe. But times were excruciatingly tough with a young family to feed amongst the hardships of WWII and civil-war Greece, and like many other Kytherian families, it was inevitable that all the children would leave for a better life. My mother being the eldest was the first to leave for Australia in 1955, with the three boys following over the next decade. The hardship of separation with her own children was overwhelming and altered the course of her emotional world. My aunt Zoe returned with her young family and tended my yiayia and papou and while my mother and her siblings all built houses five minutes away from her, she always lamented whoever was missing from the dining table, as if by habit.
A fantastic homemaker who would welcome all into her house by offering home-made delicacies, she wrote poems and lyrical verses in the back of her cookbook and recorded in writing affirmations before they were a billion-dollar business. I rejoice in my fortune to have been a small chapter in her rich and complex life's volume and although the book is now closed it's as if pages remain fluttering in me. I can hear her voice and chuckle, and her simple radiant goodness accompanies me.
While one volume closes another springs open and in mid September I christened a young boy Manolis (Prappas) Zantiotis at Ayios Yiannis Gerakari. Long-time friends with his parents Yiannis (Svendounas) Zantiotis (Prappas), and Maria Rentou, Manoli has come into my life as a gift. A smiley bundle of happiness, he has a Buddha like demeanour except when it comes to feeding time. Manoli radiates joy. Surrounded by most of my family, including my cousin Sandra who had made the trip from Athens, on the first rainy day since summer ended, we undertook the 'sacred mystery'. Although I am not a regular participant in the Greek Orthodox faith, the service made me feel that I have undertaken a sacred bond with Manoli and that all those present are now bound together, we are family.
This moment in my life reminds me of when I heard the world-acclaimed author of A Colour Purple, Alice Walker, speak and she talked of the responsibility she felt she had to her ancestors to tell their story and and celebrate their circle of life. Maybe even when the circle closes the resonance of the circle continues........ perhaps that is why 'family' is circular and not linear: circles, unlike lines, are endless.
Anna Comino, email@example.com
>Memories of Maria of Louradianika
In Memory of my Grandparents and Uncle Nicholas Lourantos.
My memories are many, but before I ask that you accompany me with my memories of Kythera and Louradianika, I would first like to tell you of the condition which I suffer from, and has for the past 2 years left me unable to walk, and I spend my days and nights in my bed, and this is from where I write my memories.
My condition is called "scleroderma". And I also unfortunately suffer from extra autoimmune conditions stemming from this condition. Last year my beloved cousin Cula passed away suddenly from this hereditary condition, which also claimed her brother. She was a very active member of the Kytherian Community, and had been in remission for many years. She had a mild form of scleroderma, and wanted desperately to help me find specialist treatment close to where I live, but the news of her sudden passing was devastating. Other cousins have also passed from this condition, as there appears to be no cure. I remember being ill as a 13 year old child. The doctors said I was suffering from rheumatic fever, and I spent 3 months bedridden. Two weeks before my 17th birthday I was struck again, and this time I was confined to bed for 8 months. My parents did not spare one penny in their search for the best medical treatment they could get for me. My parents arranged for our family Doctor and another two specialists to visit me at home every 2 weeks, and left no stone unturned in their effort to provide me with whatever treatment was necessary to help me recover. My mother would offer to sleep on the floor of my bedroom, so if I needed anything, she would be there to assist me. My appreciation for what my parents did can't be measured, and will never be forgotten. I am bringing this to the attention of my fellow Kytherians in the hope that perhaps someone may be able to shed some light on why so many of our family have to endure this illness, or maybe know of someone who has suffered from this debilitating and terminal condition. My doctor told me many years later, after I married and had children, that he and the other doctors were never completely convinced that it was rheumatic fever, but scleroderma might not have been heard of then. I would be deeply grateful if anyone out who has any knowledge of this condition can help others in stricken families who might have the disease and not even realise it, to get the necessary help early in the development of the disease.
Please join me now on a short visit down memory lane, as seen through the eyes of a 15 year old girl arriving on Tsirigo for the first time. On the 23rd of August, 1957 we sailed out of Sydney, to begin our journey to Kythera. We stopped in Italy, changed to a 5.000 ton ship, sailing through the Corinth Canal, on to to Piraeus, where we boarded a 300 ton ship to sail to the island. We went from a 28.000 ton to a 5.000 ton ship, to a 500 ton ship, and then a row boat to Pelagia where we were greeted by a truck full of family members. We boarded the truck, and with the horn blowing non stop, we drove to my Aunt Chrisanthis home, where my Grandparents were waiting for us. It was such an incredibly emotional reunion for my mother, seeing her parents and sisters for the first time in at least 20 years. We spent some time there, but had our luggage taken to my fathers home at Kato Livadi The first thing we did was to go to the Mertithiotisa to give thanks for our safe journey. When we returned to my Aunt's home, my grandfather brought out a bottle of wine which had been kept unopened from the day of my parent's wedding some 20 years before. The wine had turned to vinegar, but we celebrated just the same.
The welcome we received was one that I will take to my grave with me. We returned later to our fathers home, and found all our suitcases opened, and were told by each family member what they wanted from our bags. We were rather shocked. We did not mind, when we would leave to return to Australia, but certainly not then. My father had bought a clock radio, run on batteries, which was looked at in wonderment, and my father had also sent money for a toilet to be installed before our arrival. One day we put on jeans, as we were going to Aunt Chianti's house, and as we reached where they lived, the people came and stared. They had never seen girls wearing anything except a dress or skirt. My now deceased Uncle Panagi, who repaired shoes in his little shop, had a bit of a chuckle, as did some other people in the village. Everyone was so wonderful. The dinners we were invited to! We had to eat every bit of food on our plates, all 7 courses. Next to the family church there was a well, and I would bring the water up in a bucket, and after we had drunk the water I was so hungry again. Spring water, how beautiful it was, and I as a 15 year old, gained a great deal of weight. One day there was a little lamb whose mother had rejected it, and wherever I went, the lamb came also. My father had called me Mary in Australia, so it was ironic that this lamb followed me everywhere I went, as I am sure everyone has heard the nursery rhyme.
I will stop at this point of my "memories". My last piece put me in contact with a cousin of mine for the first time who also sent me some pictures of my beloved Lourandianka. God has been kind to bless me in this way.