Saturday, 1 August 2015

Hospitality

Hari leads the dance

Hospitality was of huge importance to the Ancient Greeks: Homer’s Odyssey tells us so.  I have spent the last year teaching pupils about xenia (hospitality), but last night I experienced it for myself. 
We are staying in the Cretan mountain village of Amari, and a man from the village returned with his Argentinian wife to have their beautiful new son baptised.  Our landlord, Manolis, assured us we would be welcome.  We went along to the church, saw little Gerry dunked in the font, then raised before the crowd three times.  Afterwards, we sidled shyly into the village square where tables and chairs were laid out for the celebration and were about to sidle out again when a woman glamorous in a white jumpsuit addressed us:  
“Hello – I’m the kid’s aunt – come and sit here.”
Her name turned out to be Hari, and she had organised the whole event, more than usually challenging in a time of such economic uncertainty.  She made sure we were offered fabulous Cretan roast lamb and cheese and honey cakes.  Not to mention limitless wine and raki.  But most of all, conversation.  
Intermixed with the local people is a cosmopolitan array of internationals, some lotus eaters, others running businesses.  Everybody had an opinion on Greece's financial troubles.  
But it was not the night to discuss such grim matters. 

Pascoe joins in.
As the traditional music got louder, the whole community got up and danced as they had danced through the wars and invasions of century upon century.