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James Prineas

December 2010

Dear Friends of Kythera,

this is of course the last newsletter of the year, so it is a good chance to remind you all of our achievements this year as well as set out our plans for next year. You may remember we completed a relaunch of the website in 2010 with a new design and lots of new features. The scope of the redesign was so great that even now we are discovering bugs which are relating to updating the basis for the site (for those IT-savvy readers out there, upgrading from php4 to php5). We're still ironing out the last bugs - most of them in the family tree system - but for the most part all is working smoothly. Thanks to all of you who reported problems - without your help we might never have noticed most of them.

The relaunch helped us to grow in popularity from an average of about 5500 visitors each month to our record month in November of 7100 unique viewers. And the number of pages viewed has also doubled to more than 90 000 last month! That's a lot of people interested in a lot of Kytherian material! So instead of the diaspora population's ties to the island diminishing over time, they seem to be strengthening. Third and fourth generation ex-islanders are rediscovering Kythera via the internet, changing its status from a dim connection from the past, to an active and exciting interest, or perhaps even a passion! How much easier must it be for a grandmother to convince her granddaughter to visit the island when the former is touring Europe, now that the colourful internet sites about Kythera have replaced Yiayia's old photo album of donkey-riding relatives and houses without flush toilets as the main source of visual information? And each young diaspora Kytherian who returns to the birthplace of their grand- and great-grand-parents gives the old locals the assurance that the island has a future, as opposed to the general impression in the 1950s to the 1980s that the population exodus would spell the end of village life on Kythera.

Another highlight in 2009 was the grass-roots archaeological efforts of John Fardoulis and friends who this Kytherian Summer turned the island into one big exciting dig! You can read more about their inspiring work and their plans for the future in the articles below.

Both privately and publicly we have big plans for 2010. We hope - finally - to begin with the trail-signage project on Kythera, clearing, mapping and posting thirty wonderful walks on the island. First on the list is the Livathi-Hora trail kindly sponsored by the Haros family and St George's Foodservice. You can view a larger version of the trails' map pictured below simply by clicking on it.

And click on this link to view the detailed trails project overview.

Other projects planned for next year include more modifications to our website to simplify the uploading of multiple pictures with text entries, and the further integration of multimedia such as film files from sites like youtube or google maps on the site.

Still in its early exciting highly confidential stages is a new unique museum planned for Kythera. I'll let the cat out of the bag as soon we know the exact name of the cat and can open the bag without injuring the cat. It could be one of the biggest things to happen to Kythera since... well... Kythera-Family.net!

As we intend to build our house on Kythera this year I'll have an excuse to visit the island early in the year (assuming our building permit comes though not more than 2 months later than expected). While there I'll find time to work on the other projects mentioned above.

And last but not least, our Great Walls of Kythera Book Project is definitely coming together. One-hundred-and-six fantastic pictures have already been submitted to that category of the site and they will make a great book. You still have a few weeks to submit your pictures too so don't delay! Once the deadline is passed we'll layout the book creating a pdf version of it and submit it for funding to some Kytherian organisations. From the pictures in the Great Walls category on the site it is already obvious that the book will work on many levels - from landscape to reportage and even fine art. Be part of it by uploading your wall pictures as well!

Wishing you all the best for the festive season and a wonderful and prosperous 2011. I hope to see many of you on Kythera this year but if you can't make it, at least visit it on Kythera-Family.net. And a last reminder: call your relatives on the island at Christmas! They'll be thrilled to hear from you and help them make it through the cold damp weather our island is famous for.


James Prineas
[email protected]

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Please visit our partner websites:
www.savekythera.com (english)
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by Maria of Lourandianika

As I venture along the path of the memories which have made such an impact of my life, I realise how I always speak of happy times, love of family, never anything but the positives and yet, life was not perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect life.

My first journey to Kythera as a 15 year old, was very different from my last visit. I had such a large family when I was a child, grandparents showing me such love, guiding me with wise words from my grandfather, the adventurous times of hunting the pheasants and quails for the evening meal, so different to when I returned, to find only the ghosts of my loved ones.

Looking back to a special time in my life, when my father chose to take the family to visit historical places in Greece, to educate my sister and myself, as he was a believer of education, and what better way but to go and observe historical sites which would stay with us forever. We had a good friend who was the editor of a major newspaper in Athens. He had come to Australia often, then chose to return to take on the job which had been offered to him, as he hoped he could in some small way assist the poor through his words in the newspaper. I did not understand why he had told us to be up early the following morning, but, soon all became clear. He took us to a place where there were cardboard boxes as far as the eye could see. I asked why had he brought us to such a place? He then told me to kneel down and to look inside one of the boxes before me. Never did I expect the site that greeted me. I saw two adults and two children huddled inside the small cardboard box. I felt I was not seeing this, as it was not possible, but the eyes that looked at me, so empty, so lacking hope, left me speechless. There was no need to record this day in my journal as I did each evening, as it was a sight which has stayed burned into my memory to this very day. No longer a child, but an adult, a mother, a grandmother, yet the eyes before me are as vivid today as the day I knelt down to see the human misery of the poor and forgotten.

I was so grateful to this family friend for bring us to this cardboard city, to show us the suffering of the poor and to understand how fortunate we were for living such a privileged life. We never went to bed hungry, nor did we ever need to fear the cold as we would always have a new coat every winter, and a warm bed to sleep in.

I remembered this city of the unheard of poor often when I would brave the cold winds when we went to live at Louradianika, my daily routine was to collect my grandmothers milk left at the end of Kato Livadi, by a kindly neighbour. I would remember how I was so well cared for, wearing warm clothes and the shoes which I had asked my parents for as I walked along the dirt road covered in stones. The shoes which I had not needed, but wanted, and my parents buying them for me, never questioning me. How could I be so blessed, not to feel the cold winds, but having time to reflect and remember the suffering I had seen. Such was my walk each day, deep in thought as I saw no one, but passed only my special field of red poppies. How humbled I felt then, and still to this very day.

Kythera held many memories for me. Visiting Agio Georgi whilst at Louradianika, where my great grandparents had been laid to rest as was the tradition for Greek Orthodox priests and their wives. A single grave which held the remains of my great great grandfather, a priest in our Church also. My grandfather told me of the story which I would hear of often as the months passed, as how a young mother had left her sleeping child, just a babe, underneath a tree, sheltered from the sun while she went to pick olives. There was a small dam nearby. The child awoke, and crawled into the dam, not able to climb back to safety, it drowned. The mother cried hysterically as she cradled her child, not a breath in its tiny body. The angels had taken it to join God. My great grandfather held the child, quoting over and over from the Bible. Then, miraculously, as the legend goes, my great grandfather, not stopping his prayers, turned to the grieving mother, telling her the child had taken a breath, and handing her her child, she cried tears of joy, the child returning to its previous state, as my grandfather who told me of this story said, lived to grow to be a man, and suffered no impairment from the ordeal. My grandfather told me that my great grandfather had been made a living Saint by the Church following this miraculous belief in God and his wondrous ways.

One day, after my return from Kythera, I went to Brisbane to request that certain items which I had found at the deserted family home, be kept in our Church. as I sat quietly in a pew, allowing myself the peace that I always found in the house of God, I observed a woman with several children. She was speaking to them about our Church and our traditions. As I listened, realising this was an educational school excursion, I could not refrain from speaking up, telling the teacher that she was not correct in what she was saying. How annoyed she became with me. She informed me that she knew all there was to know about our Greek orthodox traditions as she had studied at university. I became even more annoyed, and informed her that she may have been taught from man-made books written by a person believing they knew best, but I had the greatest teacher of all. I was the granddaughter of not only one grandfather who was a priest, but I was the granddaughter of two. One had spent many months with me, answering my many questions, and educating my inquisitive mind. I had never met my other grandfather as he was deceased before I went to Kythera, but, my great grandfather, and great great grandfather were Greek orthodox priests, also, several cousins were also men of the cloth. I felt this would entitle me to know more than whatever books she had studied by an author who possibly did not have first hand knowledge of our religion.

Recently, I was spoken to by someone so special to my heart. He went to Agio Georgi at Louradianika the day he left our island to return to Australia, and lit a candle for me in my grandfathers Church. He spoke to me of having a vision of me sitting in a pew of the now restored Church. I would see my father again and my Uncle Nick who I have written of so often. He told me to book a ticket to Kythera and he would be waiting for me to take me to the restored Church of my grandfather and I would see my father again and my Uncle Nick, who I have written so often about.
When I explained that with my ill health I could not see this happening, he stayed positive. When he speaks to me, it is as if I am speaking to my father. I have the deepest love possible for this special person who has been in my life since the day of my birth. If there is to be a way for me to return to Louradianika, to make his vision come true, then God will guide me to find a way.
I would not see the sealed road which now runs near our Church. My eyes would see the dirt road with the stones, so damaging to my footwear, the Church would not be seen by me as being restored, but I would see the Church I would accompany my grandfather to. There may have been many changes, but my eyes will see only what I saw when I was a child, then years ago, the same unsealed roads, and for me, the faces of my loved ones, long ago passed, but clearly in my mind as if it were just a day ago.

My love for my "father figure" is as strong as the love I felt for my father, may he rest in peace. If the journey is to be, it will be. How, I cannot say, but with faith, and the yearning to return, but then to leave, as I do not wish to see my Kythera moving forward. A selfish statement, but for me, my memories will live on in my heart forever.

Maria of Louradianika.

Maria (Marcellos) Whyte
[email protected]
4 Trinity Crescent.,
Sippy Downs 4556

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Recent Entries:

Limoni Restaurant - Kapsali
by Dimitra Hengen

The Limoni Restaurant was for me the best place to work using the fastest Wifi signal I found on the island. I used to sit on the terrace, plug in my charger right by the window, enjoy the scenery, the food and the drinks. I could go for a swim right there, and come back to my favourite table where I left my equipment under the watchful eyes of the owner, Kostas and Iota. I met a lot of nice people during those long afternoons or evenings and would go off for a walk along the water front when i got tired of working. I highly recommend the Limoni!

Usb Flash Drive Wireless Internet in Kythira: Cosmote or Vodaphone?
If you are planning to stay in Kythira for long periods of time, you may want to use a continuous source of internet connexion, one you can use everywhere on the island. Well, almost everywhere.
I tried USB flash drives from both Cosmote and Vodaphone. While the Cosmote is easy to install and use on a MAC, it does not work everywhere on the island. I actually discovered that is is pretty limited in range and in signal strength. The same device from Vodaphone is a much better choice as it allows you to get a strong signal in a wider range of areas on the island. It is a bit trickier to install on a MAC but once you figure it out (with the help of Vodaphone Tech Support) you will be all set. The contract for unlimited access runs about 50 euros/month for either service. You can set up an automatic payment with your Greek bank account so you don't have to run to the IP provider store to pay your bill every month.
by Dimitra Hengen

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Driving along that hilltop road
Windows are rolling down
Blue sea meeting with chocolate rocks
Breathing in that clear, fresh air
It’s something that isn’t back home.

Walking along that serene beach
Sun sinking into my skin
Nothing but blue skies above
Feeling pebbles underneath my feet
It’s something that isn’t back home.

Skipping through that main town road
Bag of presents in one hand
Eye contact with the old man
Carefully holding his cigarette
It’s something that isn’t back home.

Listening to that unique music
Playing right before my eyes
People of all ages together
Dancing, having fun
It’s something that isn’t back home.

Meeting with new friends
Getting to know them better
Reuniting with old family
Spending so much time together
These people aren’t back home.

Fear not, island, I will be back
For you are constantly in mind…
And I realise now
That you are my home
From now on

Missing you.

Amelia Samios (15 years old)

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Athanasios Emanuel Protopsaltis

submitted by Jim Saltis on 09.11.2010
My father, Athanasios Emanuel Protopsaltis, nickname Blaveri, was born on the idyllic village of Mitata on the Aphrodite’s island of Kythera at the turn of the twentieth century 1900. We know very little of his childhood. He attended school for two years and at the tender age of nine he was shipped off to Piraeus to earn his own living. His first job was washing glasses and crockery at a taverna in Troumba, an area near the harbour, famous for its small-time criminals and deviants.

He soon resigned from that job and used his meagre savings to buy a ticket for a trip to Alexandria, Egypt, where his sister lived with her husband Dimitris Tsaloumas and his brother Yiannis who was married to the sister of Dimitris Tsaloumas, our aunty Anthipi.
His stay in Alexandria was short because he found a well paying job at a classy bakery/restaurant at the small township of Damanhur.

The situation in Greece was chaotic and divisive. King Constantine insisted that Greece must remain neutral in the WW1 not so much for the benefit that neutrality would bring to the country, but mainly because he was pro- German.

Venizelos, who was a shrewd politician, maintained that joining the Allies would be more beneficial because with their aid we would be able to repel the Ottomans from Asia Minor and realise the “Big Idea” of spreading our Nation on both sides of the Aegean Sea. He went to Thessaloniki where he created a new government of the “New Hellas” and a Greek Army “The Defence”.

My father left his job in Egypt, travelled at his own expense to Thessaloniki, presented himself to the Enlistment Bureau, lied about his age and served as a soldier for the Greek National Army until the catastrophe of Smyrna in 1922.

Dad remained a loyal Venizelikos throughout his life. I remember when Venizelos died in Paris in 1936 my father came home from work clutching a black bordered newspaper, crying like a child.
"What happened, why are you crying? Did your mother die?" asked my perplexed mother.
"Worse than that. Venizelos died."

My father was above all proud that he was Greek. He always wore his war medals on Independence Day, the “OXI” day on the 28th of October, and since he came to Australia, on the Anzac Day. You can read more about my father, and our family's subsequent life in Alexandria, Egypt, by reading my book, My Four Homes.

When Published: 2009
Publisher: Kytherian World Heritage Fund
Price: $25
Available: Jim Saltis Ph. 93999767, and
Email Jim Saltis
and Kytherian Association
Email KAA
Description: The English translation of ΤΑ ΤΕΣΣΕΡΑ ΣΠΙΤΙΑ. ΜΥ FOUR HOMES

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Vic and Jack Castrission & the Niagara café in Gundagai

Vic and Jack Castrission owned the Niagara from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. In the early days it was hailed as “one of the finest cafes in the country” and, following the opening ceremony by the Hon W.F.M. Ross MLA in 1938, the brothers donated the day’s gross takings to the Gundagai Hospital.

In 1942, just after midnight, Jack was locking up when there was a knock at the door. He opened it, prepared to tell an unwelcome visitor where to go, to discover Prime Minister John Curtin. Curtin tipped his hat and said he had a couple of mates in the car and they were all hungry and freezing. The ‘mates’ were future Country Party leader, Artie Fadden, and future PM, Ben Chifley. Vic cooked them steak and eggs and they ate around the warmth of the kitchen stove.

“How’s the war affecting you?” Curtin asked.

“Our ration of tea (28lbs a month) runs out real quick,” Vic replied.

For the rest of the war the Niagara received 100lbs of tea and the PM always dropped in for a cuppa when he was passing through. In those days there was a big difference between corruption and repaying a favour.

I was last in Gundagai on 5 January 2002. The Niagara hadn’t changed a bit. I remember the date because we were sitting in a booth, having a burger and a milkshake, when a Greek Orthodox priest in his robes emerged from the kitchen, splashing holy water about. It was the day before Epiphany.

I got talking with the new owner, Nick – well, he was ‘new’ to me, even though he’d taken over from the Castrissions 19 years before. We chatted about Greece, about Gundagai and about racehorses. I asked about the Castrissions. He stroked his unshaven face, shook his head and told me that the remaining brother, Vic, had died at 10:00am that morning in the Gundagai hospital.


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John Fardoulis: “Crazy Passionate” about Archaeology

Interview: Anna Arsenis
O Kosmos, Tuesday 2nd November 2010

AA: Tell me a few things about yourself?

JF: I’ve met a lot of new people over the last nine months, through helping organise archaeology excavations in various sites in Kythera and Antikythera during the Greek summer this year. The one thing that most people comment on, is my enthusiasm.
The degree of difficulty in organising archaeology projects in Greece is quite high. Many questioned if they were actually possible. But others said “your enthusiasm might get you through John”, and it did!
A phrase that sums it up is “crazy passion”. Being so motivated and enthusiastic that almost no hurdle is too high. Crazy passion is necessary to get some things done in Greece, particularly at a time of difficulty, like now.

AA: How do you spend your free time?

JF: Every spare moment (even sneaking time out from work) over the last nine months has gone into helping organise archaeology in Greece. It has been really time consuming. Meeting and networking with a wide range of people, writing proposals, attending lectures, committee meetings, formulating budgets, talking through logistics with the archaeologists in Greece via Skype, and so on. Then, a crazy time on the ground over there in July/August; and after returning, sifting through over 3000 photos and 30 hours of video that I took. Plus the reporting phase at the moment and writing stories for the community about what happened. It’s been like a full time job.
Before I became “crazy passionate” about archaeology, shipwreck diving was the thing that took up most of my free time. This went past just diving, extending to equipment engineering and maintenance - such as rebuilding compressors, boats, gas mixing and the more technical side of deep diving.

AA: What attracts you to history?

JF: Curiosity. Understanding what life was like under different civilisations and painting a mental picture of it. Trying to understand the jigsaw puzzle, based on random pieces scattered all over the place. Plus building up research to share with the community. Archaeology is a bit like a form of CSI but with evidence from hundreds or thousands of years ago. All of this is because of a bond with the island of my ancestors and yearning to explore it.

AA: Tell me a few things about your project held in July 2010. How it all started?

JF: After ten years without a proper holiday, my dream was to do some exploratory diving around Kythera last year. Laws changed in Greece in 2005, which made Scuba diving legal around much of island. There was challenge though, no dive shop for filling tanks.
So I had to become totally self-sufficient. This meant sending over a compressor and other equipment, about 800 kilograms of gear in total. We ended up packing it in a box trailer to be portable, which itself weighed about 200 kilograms. So adding the trailer to the dive gear, a tonne of equipment was sent over, literally.
Kythera is located at the cross roads of the Mediterranean so there’s over 5000 years of maritime history associated with the island. So the big adventure last year was to go exploratory diving around Kythera, not knowing what we might find.
A passion for diving corresponds with a keen interest in maritime archaeology. Maybe a connection with the sea stems from a bloodline that comes from a Greek island? A relative who knew about my crazy passion for maritime history introduced me to the publisher of a local Kytherian newspaper - who in turn introduced me to the resident (land) archaeologist for Kythera, Aris Tsaravopoulos, in August last year.
I first met Aris in a cafe in Potamos, the village where my dad was born. We met one Sunday morning and he mentioned that they were off to dig in a 300 BC pirate fortress the next day. Would I like to come, Aris asked? Ummm... Silly question. Of course I would!
So while digging with a team of volunteers in Antikythera, I started to see how some people really love archaeology. We were with Greek government archaeologists who took annual leave to go and dig in Antikythera while on holidays, rather than just visiting the beach or doing something relaxing. Students also came and roughed it, camping, without a hot shower for weeks during the dig period.
After participating in a project where you never know what you’ll find next, I was hooked. Without any prior experience – or need for books, I was digging, under the supervision of experts.
So naturally I started on Aris’ case, asking about 2010 archaeology, in Kythera.
After speaking with Aris on a fortnightly basis for months in the latter part of 2009, I learned enough to put in a proposal to the Kytherian Association of Australia and Nicholas Anthony Aroney Trust for funding support in 2010. This was primarily to feed a team of volunteers to help the archaeologists.
The contribution wasn’t just in money though, I took full responsibility for logistics. Where to house 25 volunteers, being responsible for over 900 meals (excluding breakfast) during the 18 day stay, getting volunteers and visitors up and down the mountain every day. Even buying toilet paper.
The idea behind the whole thing!
The concept is a 360 degree approach, where the community/Diaspora assists archaeologists by helping support volunteer manpower and other resources, so they can go out and discover new evidence from the past.
The archaeologists then write reports and share the story about what they found. Pretty much digging up enough evidence to write new chapters of ancient history, in turn - sharing these chapters with the community. We help them, they make new discoveries and teach us more about the history of previous races that inhabited the land of our forefathers.
Archaeology is far from new in Greece, but what was new, is the inclusion of the local community and members of the Diaspora in the project, both as sponsors and beneficiaries. Times are really tough for archaeologists in Greece at the moment. There’s a lot of politics, funding has been axed, so support from the Diaspora can help a lot. But it’s not a one-way street - supporting archaeology isn’t just a donation but in fact an investment in our heritage.
Some local Greek people take their heritage for granted, a little like the equivalent of it being like bread and butter, just there, and in plentiful supply. We see our Greek heritage as more of a delicacy because our parents or grandparents were transplanted over here, thousands of kilometres away. That’s why some people in Greece don’t really appreciate archaeology and may have a short sighted view. Paranoid about how it may affect their farm land rather than respecting cultures that existed in that area thousands of years prior, well before our civilisation was born.
Education can help change this though. Especially by being open and sharing information, explaining the process and highlighting the value of objects that are found. Archaeology needs to be made accessible and welcoming.
Inviting local people along for a tour or to volunteer is important and should not be neglected due to tunnel vision regarding the academic and scientific side of things. Increasingly, due to the recession, academic research will struggle to get funding support in Greece. But in contrast, inspiring the community – including a large Diaspora from abroad, which is hungry to learn more about heritage, could become the solution regarding shortfalls.
This year, the majority of our permanent volunteers were Greek university students studying archaeology, plus a few members of the Greek-Australian Diaspora. We also had about half that number again as casual volunteers – mostly from the Diaspora, who each volunteered for several days at a time. In future an archaeology project could double as a youth program, bringing together locals and members of the Diaspora from around the world, creating a form of unity from doing something intense together.

AA: How did the project change you?

JF: Change started to occur from when I volunteered on my first dig in August 2009. Before that, I was pretty much a black sheep as far as the Greek-Australian community was concerned, not having much to do with it for the last 15-20 years. The problem was getting bored with gossip, fashion, cars, nightclubs, squabbles over inheritances and what I perceived was a generally conservative tone of the community.
What turned me into a born-again Kytherian was exploration, combining history with adventure. The Indiana Jones side of things – for want of a better analogy. Being part of a group of pioneers, digging in an ancient pirate settlement in Antikythera last year. This helped provide both intrigue and meaning. The same may not occur for everyone but it did for several other members of the Diaspora this year, in a similar way to what happened with me in the summer of 2009.
Even where we stayed this year was an adventure, in a 170 year-old mountain top monastery, Agia Moni. A place where Kolokotronis was sheltered in the early 1800’s and promised to rebuild it if the Fatherland was freed during the Greek revolution. It was, and he did, with Agia Moni being rebuilt in 1840.
Quite frankly, Kythera has a lot more adventure to offer me than Australia. I’ve been a bit of an adrenaline junky in the past, particularly with deep diving. Now I can’t think of any place in the world that can offer me more adventure than Kythera.
The island’s approximately 30km long and 20km across, at its widest point. There’s no way I can help find parts of a forgotten 2500+ year-old ancient city or shipwrecks from thousands of years ago within 30km of where I live in Sydney! And my right to be able to explore is afforded by a blood line from the island on both parents sides. So it’s my island too!
There was also a bond with a number of people in Kythera. Especially the Metropoliti, Bishop Seraphim. We built rapport from working on a number of tasks together. Having him bless (conduct an Αγιασμός) one of the archaeological sites for example. Plus collaborating on the historic reopening of Agios Kosmas, which gave us an opportunity to get to know each other. Conducting the first service at Agios Kosmas in well over 100 years was a really special event.
We also got to know Father Yiorgios who is in charge of the monastery where we stayed. This helped build a friendship with him. Similarly, spending time with Father Mariatos because one of the tasks was to archaeologically survey a site where he wants to build a youth camp, which helped create a bond with him too. I’ve never been very religious but now have close ties with three important members of the Kytherian clergy. And a lot more empathy for what they do.
Respect for the Metropoliti’s wishes has already stirred enthusiasm for next year - to cut trails through agathia and thick bushes, opening access to another two currently inaccessible churches. Why? Because it seems like a good thing to do, will bring joy to the community and make Bishop Seraphim happy.
I’ll drum up support from a few local farmer friends who have chainsaws, tractors and other tools. Then find members of the Diaspora to help with labour, forming a working bee to open up paths to the inaccessible churches in question. The reward for everyone will be for the Metropoliti to conduct historic services in each, creating history and bringing culture to life. How about that as a complete turn-around for a black sheep? From steering clear of the Greek community, to helping influence a religious calendar of events!

AA: How did it change other people?

JF: In a similar way to me. Volunteering doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially those who don’t want to wake up really early to dig before it gets too hot. But those who ‘connected’ with the past became more patriotic, and curious – wanting to learn more. They understood how much of an adventure they were involved in, one that was unique. Heritage is also something to share, particularly with people stemming from the same origins. People connected with each other in two ways, through sharing an intense experience and similar ancestry.
Members of the Kytherian Diaspora connected with others from around the world. People who would never have met any other way. Volunteers from Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, the United States and all over Greece worked side-by-side. I made friends with a group of Kytherian-Australians from Brisbane who I wouldn’t have ever got to know if we didn’t work together on the dig.

AA: Any other projects in the future?

JF: Yes! There’s a very important shipwreck to excavate in relatively shallow water off Kythera, one of world-wide significance to the Hellenic community. A project that needs to be conducted by the Greek Underwater Archaeology Ephorate, with support from the Diaspora, just like the land dig this year. But because of greater engineering/equipment requirements, underwater excavations are more expensive.
Plans for this project in 2011 are progressing well, but I’d like to know funding is available before making promises.
Overall, I see my role as a bit of a pioneer. Paving the way for a project to then continue on a long term basis, perhaps run by other teams. For example clearing paths to old Churches which are no longer accessible.
Or systematic excavations where the ancient capital of Kythera is currently buried. Who knows what might be found in a city that thrived for a period of 500 years before Christ, which is now buried on the side of a mountain.
Hopefully going in with crazy passion can lead to a movement that proves the value of such projects, creating longevity in Kythera and also sparking enthusiasm from others to spread throughout Greece.

AA: What's your greatest achievement to date?

JF: Helping rediscover sections of a 2500+ year old forgotten city. Without resources from Australia, and bringing people together from all walks of life, the project wouldn’t have taken place this year.

AA: Would you ever consider living in Greece?

JF: I could for set periods of time. I’ve been fortunate to have met lots of archaeologists and could probably volunteer on digs for about 3 months each year. But that would be labour of love rather than income producing.
Perhaps I could take a year off if I sell my business one day and spend that time adventuring in Greece, particularly around Kythera and Antikythera. There’s more than a lifetime’s worth of exploring to do in that region.
The same career opportunities would be hard for me to find in Greece though, so I’d have to maintain a career in Australia and visit Greece for philanthropic causes and adventure.

AA: Describe major goals you've set for yourself recently?

JF: Helping organise a project that rediscovered sections of Kythera’s ancient capital was a pretty major achievement this year. The icing on the cake was that this took place on the Greek island of my ancestors.
Going exploratory diving in Greece was a goal achieved last year. Things sometimes start as a dream, then morph into a goal and if lucky, turn into reality.

AA: And Dreams?

JF: Several. To one day organise an excavation of the Antikythera shipwreck, where the Antikythera Mechanism was found. This dream may never come true. But who knows, daring to dream, combined with crazy passion sometimes overcomes the odds.
Another dream is to help discover evidence of a Phoenician presence in Kythera, either buried on land or in the sea. We know the Phoenicians inhabited and visited, they were the race who brought Aphrodite to the island, with worship then spreading across the entire Hellenic world.
What’s known is primarily from ancient text, finding physical evidence would be a major discovery. An even bigger discovery would be a Phoenician shipwreck!
There was also a strong Minoan presence in Kythera. Finding a well-preserved Minoan shipwreck is another dream. A general dream is to circumnavigate Kythera and Antikythera searching for shipwrecks (with the endorsement of authorities), perhaps over the next ten years.
Don’t forget, these are just dreams – not promises.

AA: What are the major reasons for your success?

JF: Determination. I’m a pretty good networker too. It’s often helpful if you can call on the right people to get things done.

AA: Tell me something about yourself that we haven't mentioned in this interview?

JF: My Greek isn’t very good. I can probably read at the level of a 4 year old, and speak at the level of a 12 year old. I haven’t needed Greek here in Australia and the main times I’ve used it is when older relatives speak to me. They speak in Greek, and I usually reply in English. Both parties understand and it’s been simple.
I learned a lot of new words while in Greece. Especially modern Greek. A few random examples include;
γρασαδόρου - grease gun – this was needed to fix seized boat steering on the day that we wanted to visit a small island just off Kythera to inspect a 2300 year-old Sanctuary to Poseidon.
Σεβασμιότατε – respected one – a way of addressing the Metropoliti. I couldn’t get my tongue around the word for weeks. Bishop Seraphim politely suggested that I could use the word πατέρ – father - as an alternative.
τομή – trench – a word often used when referring to test trenches, a marked rectangle where archaeological excavation systematically takes place, layer by layer.
ανασκαφή – excavation – a word used for an archaeological excavation, or dig.

AA: Tell me about your most difficult work or personal experience?

JF: I’m a workaholic and find it hard to switch off. The intense amount of adventure just listed has made it hard for me to concentrate on work at the moment, so I’m a bit torn between two different worlds.

This project was graciously supported by the Nicholas Anthony Aroney Trust and Kytherian Association of Australia. The lecture is being sponsored by Laiki Bank and presented in conjunction with the Sydney Friends of the Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens.

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Kytherian Research Group Inc.

The Kytherian Research Group Inc. is a registered non-profit incorporated association in the state of NSW, Australia. We are about uncovering the rich history of Kythera and Antikythera. Our aim is to help discover and share Kytherian history, heritage and culture. Particularly educating members of the Kytherian Diaspora regarding elements of the island and it's history that they may not have seen or known about.

Aims are to: Engage. Discover. Inspire.

To Engage the community and related parties...
Help Discover exciting new finds, and...
Inspire everyone by sharing knowledge.

Our initial main project involved an archaeological dig at Paleokastro, the island's capital for at least 500 years before Christ which tool place in July 2010, helping write a new chapter of ancient history. We hope to build on the success of this expedition with further projects and discoveries in the years to come.

Registered Address: 66 Justin Street, Lilyfield, NSW 2040 Australia
Contact Person: John Fardoulis

Web site: www.krg.org.au

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"Expectations and Achievements" Part 6
This is an excerpt of the autobiography of Peter Haniotis, who died in 2006. Many thanks to his daughters who have allowed us to reprint his life story here. You can read previous episodes in our last newsletter which is in our Newsletter Archive.


It was after the Asia Minor catastrophe when we had in our house an unexpected visitor. In an earlier chapter I mentioned Uncle Minas who was in Sevastopol, Russia. He took my Uncle Peter there where he made a fortune. After the Russian Revolution he lost everything, but was too old to seek a new life. He resigned himself to his fate and decided to see his final few days there, where he had spent most of his life. As the Communist Government decided to expel all migrants, he had to leave. The only relatives he had were my father and another nephew from his brother who was well established in Heraklion, Crete. He provided my uncle with his living expenses.

When Uncle Minas came to our house we children heard how good an old soul he was and accepted him with open arms. He always came home with lollies and cakes for us. Our affection for him was growing. Uncle Minas also gave me two shoe-boxes of used old stamps. I did not know their value and used to fill up my pocket with them to give to my schoolmates. I was becoming popular because of these stamps. Eventually Uncle Minas, to our distress, left Piraeus and went to Kythera where there were two big monasteries. He went to one of them, Agia Moni, and became a monk. He died a few years later, but the memory of Uncle Minas left a soft spot in our hearts.

At our house a couple of times a year, we had another visitor, my mother’s father’s grandfather, Cosmas. Apparently he had some problems and was bossy and cranky. Being our grandfather, we were taught to respect him. As we learned later, his problems were his autocratic character and his loneliness. He was left alone after having eight children. Slowly, he was losing his eyesight through cataracts, which for some reason were inoperable. Eventually, he became blind and had a terrible life in the hands of his housekeeper. He died during the Great War at the age of one hundred and two.


Before I continue with my story, I’d like to point out a few things to my readers so they will understand my psycho-synthesis, ideas and feelings. In any religion, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam or Judaism, true believers or not, after receiving good or bad news, sing out “My God!” or “God help me!” These people sense that there is some higher unknown power in existence and they immediately appeal to it for help.

I was born to a middle-class Christian family. Soon after my birth I was christened. As I grew up, I learned that Christianity preached good things and I raised no objection. But in time, seeing the behaviour and actions of some Church officials and members of the clergy in the administration of their duties, there remained a lot to be desired. This made me sceptical and I decided against openly worshipping. Instead, I tried to depend on my conscience.

I had three people close to me who helped me get on in my life – my grandmother, my father and my mother. The two women were illiterate and my father only went to school for four years. But between the three of them there was a wealth of knowledge and common sense you would seldom find amongst some better-educated people. These three gave me my education in the basics.

When I was young, I learned in our lessons on the New Testament that most of the twelve apostles were plain, illiterate fishermen, whom God had chosen to make wise so they could eventually teach the world. At the time, I wondered if God had performed another small-scale miracle in favour of my family. My grandmother seemed to know everything, and her answers were always logical. She taught me to be honest, just and modest. Even so, I was reluctant to be absolutely perfect; I always wanted the biggest portion of cake when I had to share with my sister Froso. In the end, we decided that I would divide it and she would choose. I remember trying to find the biggest and Froso crying because she couldn’t make up her mind which piece was the biggest. As for modesty, I could not help myself showing off when I scored the winning goal for my team in soccer.

The admiration of my grandmother had a lot to do with the fact that she had lived in Russia for two years and always told us interesting stories about her experiences there. In my young fantasy I was sure she had met Tsar Nicholas and his family. She may even have had afternoon tea with them, but forgot to mention it.

Then there was my mother. She was very intelligent and had plenty of common sense except in matters that affected me. She firmly believed that boys should be the little slaves of the family; when they were not doing their homework they should be available to do their mothers’ messages. Playing outside the house after school was out of the question. Much later I understood the actual reason for this. When playing outside after school I very seldom came home intact. Most of the time it was a large lump on my head or cuts and bruises on my legs. What could you expect after a wrestling game or retaliation from the boy you kicked by mistake in a soccer game?

Poor mother. I know how she worried, seeing me in that condition. She had to attend to my injuries and repair my clothes damaged during the action. The thing that hurt her most was when the other boys’ mothers came to our house complaining that I had hurt their boys. She didn’t like it a bit. When I came home with blood pouring from my head she gave me first aid while telling me that it served me right.

However, in spite of everything, I loved my mother dearly and in my heart I knew that whenever she did something I didn’t like, it was purely a matter of her judgement and had nothing to do with her feelings towards me. She was always there when I needed her.

As for my father, I always remember the times when he tried to teach me some principles with small stories. One of them I'd like to repeat here. Once a father was giving his son a long lecture which lasted a quarter of an hour. When he finished, he asked his son what he got out of it. The boy reluctantly said “I dunno, but since you started talking the dog ate ten flies.” The father shook his head, realising he was wasting his time.

Being a constant companion of my father on Sundays was great, even though for the duration of our outings our only conversation was when I pestered him to buy me salted nuts from the street-seller or to take me to the shadow theatre or to the open-air flicks. Our serious lectures always took place at home. Sometimes he yelled at me, but unlike my mother, he never hit me. Probably that was one of the reasons I loved and respected my father so much. I had friends who were getting hidings from their fathers at the request of their mothers. My father would not budge at my mother’s occasional suggestions to punish me. I heard him telling her that I was just a “lively young boy”.

On Sunday mornings we used to go to church where from the time we arrived I would count the minutes until the end, when my father would buy me koulouria (round cakes), from the church stalls outside. The church we went to, St Basil’s, was close to our house. The senior priest’s name was "Father Long". He was a man of very large build with a big voice. Looking at him, I couldn’t help thinking he was the spitting image of the God whose pictures were painted on the ceiling of every church. People thought Father Long was a very good orator, though I could never follow what he was talking about. I will try to explain as briefly as I can the reason, in the hope that I don’t give the impression that I’m trying to fit in another history lesson.

As we all know, Greece was under Turkish rule for four hundred years. During this period the Turks shut down all the Greek schools and banned the teaching of the Greek language. They still allowed the Greeks their religion but called the Christians the unfaithful ones. The Greeks moved their children’s education underground into the cellars of various churches and monasteries. The clergymen and the monks became the teachers who when caught paid the penalty with their lives.

When Greece was liberated after the 1821 revolution, the only language spoken was a mixture of Greek, Turkish and Latin. When Greece went under Turkish rule the great majority of intellectuals left and migrated all over Europe. Most of them settled very well and according to European history, helped their adopted countries move from the dark ages to "anagenesis". It was to these Greeks that the new Greek Government appealed for help to organise the language. Lots of them answered the appeal and returned to Greece to work on the project with zeal. They adopted two versions of the Greek language: the ‘intellectual’ was a mixture of the ancient and the new, which only the well-educated understood. The ‘popular’, which was a mixture of ancient and modern Greek plus some Turkish and Latin, everyone understood.

After 1920, a movement to reorganise the language brought in a modified version of the intellectual and popular, which they called the ‘newspaper language’. After the war, another big movement resulted in making the popular language the official one and the intellectual was left to die like ancient Greek, with all the grammar and rules. At that time I was attending primary school and therefore had no knowledge of Father Long’s language and consequently what he was talking about.

After Sunday luncheon we had a couple of hours’ siesta and in the afternoon we used to go to a seaside café where my father enjoyed an ouzo and me a Turkish delight and a lemonade as we watched the small sailing boats. With the gentle sea air in my face I felt terrific. Sometimes I thought of my mother and sisters at home while we enjoyed ourselves, and this made me feel sad. But again, according to the custom, that was the right thing to do and I should not have worried.

At a very young age I learned about God as follows. He was here, there and everywhere, seeing and hearing everything people did. He kept a balance sheet for all and marked you according to the good or bad things you did. This went on all your life and, when you died, if the balance was on the good side, you went straight to Paradise. Otherwise you went to Hell. This made me a little sceptical while I tried to assess the difference between good and bad.

Amongst the bad things, I conceded, was when I pinched a penny from my mother’s pocket, or when I was late for school and told my teacher it was because I had to wash the breakfast dishes and not because I was playing with the other boys, which was the truth. I was also prepared to admit that it was wrong to bash up the boy who beat up my friend when he was walking through the neighbourhood. Sometimes I got the wrong end of the stick.

My good points, I think, were when I tried to be helpful by asking my mother if she wanted me to do messages for her or when I had lollies and shared them with my sisters in spite of my greed urging me not to. And I always tried hard to keep quiet during siesta time when the grown-ups wanted to sleep, even though I was frustrated trying to keep my eyelids shut.

According to the description of Paradise it was situated in the sky very high up beyond the clouds. Up there is the residence of God, his family and the saints. Thousands of angels float around and with their harps play heavenly music. The beautiful sound spreads all over the atmosphere. The millions of ‘chosen souls’ enjoy the music and the perfect surroundings forever and ever.

We were also told that when there was thunder God was moving his furniture. Much later in my life, going to Europe by plane, flying over the clouds, I instinctively had a good look around for a glimpse of Paradise. However, my efforts were in vain; their secret was very well kept.

We were also told that Hell was situated in the centre of the Earth. There, the Devil had his headquarters. His servants kept the fires going under big tubs full of tar, where they dipped the souls according to the crimes they had committed when they were alive. The more crimes the less torture they sustained, the reason being that the worst criminals were the best friends of the Devil. The heat there, we were told, was unbelievable and sometimes even the Devil, feeling it, opened a few valves to let the steam out. People on Earth would see those fires and the noise they made as volcanoes.

I firmly believed all these stories and was assured by Madame Helene, an authority on religious matters. She was a middle-aged, unmarried woman who helped my mother with the ironing and the repairing of our clothes. She kept over a hundred icons of various saints in her room, some of whom, she assured me, performed miracles. This fact alone qualified her, in my eyes, beyond the slightest doubt. Madame Helen always took the opportunity to talk about religion and again I wondered if the Holy Spirit had something to do with her being so knowledgeable.

Perhaps there is a helping hand from the Man Upstairs enabling me to write my memoirs at this old age and with my limited knowledge of the English language.

Peter Haniotis
(Read the following episode of Peter's family history in the next newsletter, and previous ones in our newsletter archive.)

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Churches and Wildflowers of Kythera
by Anita and Albert of "Fos ke Xoros"

Click here to see more than 250 Wildflowers of Kythira
"In the next months we will continue our search for new flowers and add them to the collection. "

Click here to see more than 70 Churches of Kythira
"We will not stop until we have photographed every single one of the approximately 400 to 500 churches of Kythira."


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Contemporary death notices and obituaries in Australian newspapers

Here's another resource for all you genealogists out there sent by Evelyn Prineas:
The Ryerson Index

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Church and house walls are "Great Walls" too!

Ruins at the edge of Mylopotamos. Picture by Charles Prineas

If you received previous newsletters you'll know that we've announced a new book/exhibition project entitled "The Great Walls of Kythera". Dozens of pictures have already been uploaded to the Great Walls category of the site, and with another 10 or so to choose from we'll have enough to consider the layout for the book. It's not too late to send in your pictures - in fact, you have until the end of the year. If you can't find the time to put them on the site, just send them to this email address and we'll upload them for you in your name. In February next year we'll chose the best of the pictures and in addition to publishing a book of them, we will also try to organise a travelling exhibition of them.

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About Kythera-Family.net
Kythera-Family.net aims to preserve and reflect the rich heritage of a wonderful island. Members of the community are invited to submit their family collection of Kytherian stories, photographs, recipes, maps, oral histories, biographies, historical documents, songs and poems, home remedies , etc., to the site. Uploading directly to the site is easy, but if you wish you can also send your collections to us by email or post and we will submit them for you. Thus we can help make available valuable and interesting material for current and future generations, and inspire young Kytherians to learn more about their fascinating heritage.

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