June 7, 2009

Athens, Day 73: Skippy and Pippy, the Passport Patrol

After a medium-late night in Gazi Friday, we spent most of Saturday sitting around thinking about doing things. I had two gyros for lunch at the Varnavas place and then sat around some more. In the mid-afternoon, after sending Felicity off, a bunch of us went out to do some last-minute shopping. Paige, Aida, and I went to Syntagma to look for CDs (I got Cretan music, bouzouki, and some cheap hipster CD) and knockoff bags (Aida got a Real Prada bag), we wandered towards Plaka and Tourist Alley with a stop in every shoe and bag store for Paige. I also ended up buying the cutest book ever called “i love…”. On every page there’s a bird with a red heart balloon saying “i love [something]”. It’s adorable. We attempted to have dinner at Kostas, but it was inexplicably closed, so we went to Ep’Avli (the place with the amazing chocolate cake), which was still quite good. I think if Giorgos from Kostas cooked the appetizers for Ep’Avli, they could have a really amazing restaurant.

After dinner we decided to go out somewhere, but since Aida was leaving at 2 am and nobody wanted to buy anything, we couldn’t go to a bar or club. We (me, Anna, Sarah B, Aida) walked down Markou Moussourou and ended up sitting at the Zappeion for a few hours. I made everyone read aloud from “i love…” and then we went around saying things we actually loved about Greece: the old people, how they talk to strangers about family first off, the kolokithokeftedes, the gyros, the food in general, the sky, the view out the apartment window. We were just hanging out when two policemen came over and demanded “our papers”. Of course, no one brought passports to the park. We don’t bring passports anywhere. We just kind of sat there while they took out a flashlight and looked at us, and realized they were wearing incredibly tight pants. Eventually Anna realized she had her student ID, Sarah had a photocopy of her passport, and I had my international student card. Aida had nothing and told them so. The police were not satisfied, but took them anyway. One pulled out a little notebook and started writing down our names. They asked how long we were here and where we lived. We told them that literally, we lived five minutes away and that we were literally leaving the country in a matter of hours. This didn’t seem to help. As they copied down our names, they asked for our father’s name. We have no idea why. I was the first.

“Your father’s name?”

“What?”

“Your father’s name.”

“First or last?”

“Your name is Hackner Stacy?”

“Other way around.”

“So his name is Hackner.”

“His name is Mark.”

“Eh?”

“Mark.”

“What is?”

“Markos. Markos.”

“Oh! Markos. He is Greek?”

“No.”

Sarah was a bit worried because apparently there’s a German terrorist with the same name as her dad, but apparently they didn’t care too much if they accepted that. We asked if there was a problem, and they said “No, there is no problem.” And then they took their tight pants and left.

We still have absolutely no idea what was going on or what they’re going to do with the little list they made that excludes Aida, whom they stopped caring about when she couldn’t produce an ID. I wondered if it’s because today is Euro and Greek elections, but apparently they had questioned Nick in a similar manner before. It’s likely they were just bored and saw some girls sitting on the bench and decided to use their police power to check us out and be annoying. Halfway through I had to stifle giggles both because of the irony of avoiding police until I literally had 10 hours left in the country and was doing nothing wrong and because of their actually ridiculously tight pants. We left the park a little later; Aida and Alli left, then Anna and Sarah R. People are slowly trickling out. I’m taking a cab with Nick, and we’re leaving at the same time as Sarah, who’s taking the bus. After a very long day (especially long because it was too hot and buggy to sleep), I will be home.

Another point: the election. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the rest of Europe – I’ve read one news article about the process. Athens has been plastered in the past week with campaign posters: the big groups are New Democracy (Νεα Διμοκρατια) with Giorgos Papandreou (we think he’s from the Papandreou legacy) and PASOK (ΠΑΣΟΚ), the socialist party. (That’s one of those acronyms, like Israel’s NATBAG, that has been put into English letters that don’t actually mean anything in English.) The communist party, KKE, has put up the most posters, but isn’t as big a factor (except in the north, their old hangout). Apparently there are lots of smaller parties too, but I don’t know them. Yanna told me she’s voting for one of them, as New Democracy has really let the people down so far. We’ll see what happens.

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