Thursday, 19 April 2012

Real time (Πραγματικός χρόνος)

I live in a rural area, which is linked by less than a kilometre to a main arterial route going straight into the town of Hania.

Where I live, it is difficult to gauge what is going on down there. It all looks so peacefeul and serene from high above. But I know how close I am to the problems of urban life. I don't have to see them on a regular basis, so I can sweep them under the doormat when convenient, so that I may rest my mind. I covet rural life.
On driving out of the village enclave, I encouter my first reality check: petrol prices, which have now reached the €2 mark. The photo above is not really 'old', but it's already out of date. Petrol prices change nearly every day, always going up by a 1-2 cents. The first price refers to unleaded fuel (venzini, as it is called in Greece), and the third to diesel (petrelaio).

The strolls that I used to take in the side-streets of the old town (as opposed to the main commercial centre) have now become less romantic, tinged with some anxiety, as the signs of the economic crisis become obvious. This side of Χρυσάνθου Επισκόπου Street was once lined with pricey boutiques; now it's just one vacant shop after another. Due to its proximity to the touristy Venetian harbour, the area was always known to be an expensive zone; now that people have changed their spending habits, the businesses here have probably either asked for a decrease in rent (and didn't get one, so they moved to cheaper premises), or they went out of business due to people's change in habits. 

Crete, and notably Hania, due to the tourist industry, fares better than the rest of the country, so it's likely that people have money stashed away, and are simply biding their time until the economy gets better (wishful thinking for most people at this stage of course). The window display of this store on Tζανακάκη Street, whose offerings range from €50-150 a pair, makes an interesting contrast to the previous photograph, and perhaps adds a measure of proof to the belief that there is money.

The tourist industry is also feeling the pinch. It's not just the Greeks in crisis: we're all Greeks now. Competitive prices have always been an issue, and never more so than now. I'm used to buying products on sale, but I still find it hard to accustom myself to sales prices on my food...

Whereas once people were made to be loved and things were made to be used, we now live in a world where people are being used and things are being loved.

From their height, the Lefka Ori have seen many changes take place in the town of Hania and no doubt, they will continue to be witnesses to many more. Their ominous presence in the town, as they remain visible from most vantage points, continues to be reassuring. 

All photos were taken in the last fortnight.

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