Greece: “I need to negotiate the stairs…”
I flew into Athens late Saturday and took the new metro line into the city. (Pretty awesome, as they only completed it eight years after the expected date.) My hostel was pretty great, air con and everything, and met up with some people from the dig. Sunday I visited the new Acropolis Museum (which opened pretty much the week after I left last time) and it was so amazing – really integrated modern design with historical artifacts, and underneath was the “Acropolis neighborhood” excavation, which they displayed through glass floors. At the end I saw someone who looked to be conducting surveys, and it turns out his name is Dionysus and he’s studying museology and giving a presentation on visitor’s suggestions and reactions to the Acropolis museum. Of course, I was happy to help. ALSO I read his nametag and his last name is Phlebotomos, which he told me is the profession name for bloodletters. Sunday night I had drinks with the archaeo folks but left them for dinner as I wanted to go to Kostas and they wanted to go for Mexican. However, after the long walk to my old neighborhood, I was dismayed to find Kostas to be closed and my other two fallbacks full of catered parties for the Special Olympics.
I walked dejectedly down a small alley and my attention was caught by a large woman in a see-through nightdress lounging over two chairs. She said something in Greek that I didn’t catch and I asked her to repeat it in English; after a brief conversation about the situation in the main square I decided to ask her about nearby restaurants. She asked if I like meat or fish (I didn’t know there was such a choice) and when I replied meat, she said, “Oh! You can go to O Stavros!” (O is the direct article for masculine nouns, including male names.) “They have meat, and also fish, and it is close. Is just to the right, down the steps, and across the street.” I asked the name of the street, and she stood up, making everything under the nightdress jiggle and sag. “No street! To the right, down the steps, you there. Tell them Fat Katerina send you.” I said ok, and thanked her, and started to walk in the direction she had pointed. She leaned over her little porch and pointed again, “Down the steps! Tell them Fat Katerina send you, the one who make the jewellery, the bracelet, the earrings. The fat one.” I ordered fried zucchini and tzatziki and it was delicious, and only 8 euros.
Monday I took the once-per-day-every-other-day-not-Sundays flight to Astypalaia (1 hour at 10,000 feet) and it is SO cute. We are 2.5 km downhill from the main town, so we have to walk half an hour uphill to the lab every morning, but in exchange we get to be next to the beach. I am getting quite a tan – it’s so hot in the afternoons all one can do is jump in the sea. There are also little restaurants and a friendly supermarket and stray calico cats who love me. I made a huge pot of tzatziki too! We get fed every day except Sunday, nice Greek food – not the most delicious, but filling, and each room (for four) has a kitchenette. After two days of training, I got to excavate today. Pretty much, each burial is a baby in an amphora. What we have to do is remove the potsherds, which then leaves a giant dirt clod with a skeleton inside. We go in with scalpels, tweezers, and other specialized tiny equipment to excavate the skeleton – very different from pretty much all other excavations, as it’s half dig – but very small – and half immediate conservation. Anyway, the skeletons are adorable and tiny, and we still have to figure out why they’re here and how they got here. Lots of fun. And after excavating, we go to the beach.