29 July 2010

The Panagyri, and dumb British/Turkish boys...

Monday was the Panagyri. In it's most simplified description, its the huge town festival that Mikines celebrates in honor of it's patron saint, Pantalaimon. The festivities occur the day before the Saint's day, while the actual day of the saint is devoted to prayer and fasting. On the night before there's a huge mass, where everyone in town who's religious attempts to shove themselves into the tiny, byzantine style church in the middle of town (complete with neon cross atop it), and all those who are non-religious (like myself and all the people that I'm with), just sort of crowd around the adjacent buildings, waiting for the procession to commence through the town. On this particular Panagyri it rained, a warm rain with big fat drops, so we had to take refuge cramming ourselves beneath an overhang while the church ceremony was performed, and broadcasted over a loud speaker. Then we processed through town by moonlight and incense, periodically stopping in random places on the way to the food, where the priest would chang something in Greek, do some incensing, and then be on his way, complete with a dais holding the icon of the saint. All together a very holy/ religious experience. I'm pretty sure I was walking next to the town hooker for most of the procession. She was wearing a skimpy white dress. Oh the irony of it all.

The food was delicious with pork, Greek salad, french fries, tzatziki, bread, wine, and soda. After we were done eating we all headed over to the one and only bar in town and took shots of Sambouka while lighting our thumbs on fire. I will try to borrow one of Sam's pictures of the endevour. It resulted in a disgusting taste in my mouth and a slightly burning thumb.

Throughout much of the procession Sam and I were dogged by this British/Turkish boy who was staying at our hostel, and who we invited to dinner with us the night before because a) he spoke English and b) he looked lonely. We only later figured out that he was probably just looking for some ass. Sam and I wanted none of that. He just sort of awkwardly followed us and the grad students around until we sort of ditched him when we went to eat because Dr. S had reserved a table for just us and the grad students, and we didnt know if he would be allowed to join. I think he took it a little personally. Especially when we ran into him later, when we were all a little drunk, and he tried to start a fight between us and the hooker (a failed attempt) and then told us that the Dickinson kids were really cool. He also ragged on my 2 week trip through Turkey, saying that I was staying in boring places that only had nature, and that Ankara was also boring because it had no bars. Oh no! Good thing he left yesterday, since it started getting awkward when we'd run into him at breakfast and he's say things like "so you guys missed the trick on the Dickinson kids" (whatever that means). We're not sure how much he told them that we rag on them. Oh well, they leave on Saturday, which means that we dont have to deal with them protentiously saying "KALY NICHTA!" to us when we run into them in town. Sam and I drunkenly yelled that at them when we were walking home from the Panagyri. I'm not sure if they knew that we were mocking them. It was an epic moment, though.

26 July 2010

A more detailed update for the weekend...

This weekend Sam and I decided to go to Aegina, since we're both swimming in departmental money. Ok, maybe not swimming, but theres a bit of an excess. Anyways, Aegina, being the most reasonable island to get to from Athens, both with regards to time and money, ended up being one of the most stressfull travel excursions that I've had to do...ever. And I've done many. The whole thing started out perfectly fine. We ran into Dr. S on our walk down to Fichtia to catch the train to Corinth so she drove us the other kilometer that we wouldve otherwise had to walk, in the heat, with no shade. The train rides to Athens ended up being airconditioned and low stress. We even ended up booking a really nice hostel in a nice part of Athens, which is a huge change from the hostels that I've had to stay in before in Athens. Not only did we have our own room, but each room had airconditioning, and I did feel like I was going to be either raped or mugged while walking back to it at night. We were really super close to the Plaka, which is the nice restauranty part of the city, right next to the Agora and under the Acropolis. We had a lovely dinner at this cute little restaurant run by an older woman who started laughing at me when I stood up because I'd been drinking a little bit too much. The one bad part about the hostel was that the airconditioner broke in our original room so they had to move us to a different room that only had one big bed in it. It was fine though...until the airconditioning decided to turn off in the middle of the night and not turn back on again. Unfortunately the only remedy for this was to walk downstairs to the loby and ask the desk person if we could borrow the remote control to turn it on, since they didnt leave them in the room. But apparently he was really stressed about checking these 2 german girls into the hostel at 4:30 in the morning, because when I went downstairs he basically chided me, saying that he would come up there as soon as the kid who had taken it last had brought back the remote. I think the main confusion was that he was telling people to return the remotes after they had turned the airconditioning off, while he meant turn the airconditioning on. Thus, people were keeping their airconditioning remotes until they no longer needed the airconditioning since that would be when they would turn it off. Or maybe I was just a little bit confused because I was wandering downstairs at 4 in the morning.

The next day ended up being the most stressful after we had gone to the new Acropolis Museum at Athens in addition to the Acropolis and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The city had shut down the only subway line that would take us out to the port city of Piraeus, which is where we would catch our ferry, so we had to take a bus instead. This would have all been fine if Sam or I knew where to get off on the bus, but since neither of us did, we ended up riding it all the way to the end of the line, and then walking the however long it was all the way around the port until we got to the ferry terminals. Its ok though, because I was able to get a soda, and the inside of the ferry boat was airconditioned and I totally knocked out during the trip. Once we got to Agia Marina on Aegina, we found out that the hotel manager had basically cancelled our booking that we had made the week before. Apparently, the Greek family who had been staying in our room had decided to stay an extra couple of days because they said it was too hot to travel. Instead of finding them another place to stay nearby he told us that he gave them our room for more nights and that he had found us another hotel room someplace else, even though we had booked our room well in advance and even payed an 8euro deposit on the room. I dont know if the room was comparable, since I never got to see the original, but we were farther away from the beach. The good thing, though, was that our room had airconditioning, and it was tiny enough that it got cold really really fast.

Despite those little bobbles, the rest of the trip ended up going quite well. We went to the temple of Aphaia on Aegina, which was beautiful and on top of a hill looking out on the ocean on both sides (there will be pictures once I am able to post them, so in about 3 more weeks). The little museum attached to it was adorable and had original statues from the pediment of the newer temple (by newer I mean around 500BC). There were even portions of the sima which still had the original paint on it, which I had never seen before. The best part was that Sam and I are in possession of get into any archaeological site/museum free cards because Dr. S decided to pass us off as grad students, so we got to get into everywhere for free, including the new Acropolis Museum, which is spectacular as usual.

Last night, after we got home, we had a change from our usual routine in that we actually ate dinner with two people who are staying in Dassis with us. It was great being able to add some variety to who we see, since its just us together usually, and then the annoying Dickinson kids who yell good-night to us in Greek, even though they're American and they know that we're American. It also kept Sotiri from bothering us while we were eating dinner.

Museum work has started getting a lot better as the weeks have been progressing. Last Friday, Lynne actually put me in charge of managing sorting since she was not going to be there and since I've seen everthing the longest of the group (except her), so I know what to be looking for. I felt very responsible. And today I found a couple of pottery joins and joked around with the other grad students, which means that my overall happiness about working in the museum has gotten a lot better. I'm still sorta counting down until its over though, just because I'm kinda over Greece and ready to move on to Turkey and have a regular routine revolving around school. That will definitely make the weeks go by faster once I have shit to do. As of right now they just kind of drag by, and it doesnt help that I miss people back at home and 6 months seems like a super long time.

22 July 2010

Sorry, it's been a bit of a long time...

So I've shirked my updating responsibilities and still will not be able to update very much this time because I have 15 minutes of interwebs left. I will try my hardest though.

The interactions between the grad students and the undergrads (all two of us) have improved significantly. Now they actually joke with us, and the other day they came into town and got dinner with us. Lynne took us hiking around to all the tholos tombs outside of the main Mycenae sight. This was the second time that I had done it, but it was no less cooler than the last time. I also found out that I am very VERY out of shape. I'm still afraid of Deanna, like I was last year. It doesnt help that this year there's a grad student named Deb, and for some weird reason, whenever I'm really tired I accidentally call her Deb. Then she gets kinda mad at me. Yesterday she yelled at me and it took everything I had to keep from crying in front of her. I dont want to be like that Sara girl who last year, with the Nemea group apparently cried all the time. I can't be that person.

Seeing how Dr. Shelton is treated in the museum, both as a woman and as a foreigner has made me sort of rethink my career goals. I still plan on getting my PhD (dont worry parentals), but Im seriously debating about getting my masters in conservation or museum studies. a) Ill make more money, b) there might be more job openings, and c) I wont be treated like shit as a director in Greece. One of the times, when Deanna was having a pleasant conversation with me, she made the suggestion. I dont know, we'll see how long that idea lasts. Last year, Gypsy told me that I should go into conservational resource management, which I wanted to do, but now cannot. That lasted all of a couple of months. Moral of the story: this will probably change. Who knows, I might just end up getting my PhD then saying fuck it and make a beer brewery.

This weekend Sam and I are going to Aegina on "vacation/honeymoon". I swear to god, soon as I figure out how to post pictures on these computers I will, but as of yet, you will just have to use your imagination.

16 July 2010

And so goes the first week...

The first week of work has been...interesting. It's been frustrating, fun, boring, tedious, and difficult all at the same time. There's been a lot of bone washing, so much so that my hands get all pruney by the end of the day in very bizarre patterns, and when i say a lot of bone washing I mean like over 14 hours worth of washing little bones. We have found some cool things, like an almost in-tact dog skull, a bright purple spiny oyster, lots of vertebrae (which I seem to think are toes most of the time, and Sam constantly makes fun of me for it), and some bones with butcher marks on it. Work has also made me further realize my intense hatred for pottery, mainly because it hurts my back just to stand there and stare at a table for hours, and I simply do not have the patience for it. Yesterday, however, I got to do some work on the frescoes that had been found, which was really one of the only reasons why I decided to return this year, which made me a very happy camper. Today was just 7 hours worth of sorting. It was really hot outside. I had intense amounts of butt/upper thigh sweatage, primarily because I was sitting on a vinyl chair. But it's ok because its friday.

I've found that I've become increasingly more frustrated in the heirarchy of the research "team". I put team in quotes because it can only be loosely defined as one, since I'm sometimes treated as an underlings, instead of as a co-worker. We're being funded, just like theyre being funded. However, the grad students have formed this weirdo little clique because they all live together in another house and in another town. Granted its about a 20 minute drive away, but they make absolutely no effort to try to at least hang out with us, and when I asked them one day if they wanted to come into Mykines that night (they mentioned that they were going to be at home playing cards) I got a really weird look in response and an "uh, yeah. no." And when we're leaving the place they just say bye and drive away. And then they come back the next day talking about how they went to Nafplio to get dinner and how they went out to a bar yadayadayada, even though we are stuck in Mykines by ourselves with not much else to do other than nap, play card games with each other and get hit on by Sotiri. And they all talk amongst themselves, and are only now starting to include me in their conversations. We frequently bitch about this. I'm hopeful that by the end of the four weeks it'll be a little bit more inclusive.

Speaking of Sotiri, he's the 30 something creeper who works at the one and only bar in the city. Unfortunately, he recognized me when we were sitting having a beer, and then he insisted on sitting with us for an hour and making awkward small talk. And when I say he recognized me, I mean he stood sorta behind me and stared at me for a bit trying to remember where he had seen me, and then awkwardly shakes my hand and asks if I'm Dutch. He's also notorious for blatantly hitting on young women. In fact, Dr. Shelton even commented that she thought that he was too old for hitting on girls our age. Ew. We're going back tonight, and hopefully he won't bother us.

I wanted to post pictures of my view from my balcony but I cant seem to find an available USB port on the computer. They arent particularly interesting, but at least it would be able to give people a feel of how small the town is, since I can pretty much see the whole place from the balcony. Sometimes we like to watch drunk people pop wheelies on their motorcycles when they drive by. Sam calls one of them "Tubsters".

12 July 2010

The Arrival- Greece

I have finally arrived in Greece, despite having my original British Airways flight to London canceled in LA because it never left London due to electrical problems and issues with the flight crew working overtime. Luckily they were able to book us on a new flight that was rescheduled from the day before because that plane never left LA due to some reason that I don't really want to know about. However, this rescheduled flight threw a wrench in the on-time workings of BA as there were then TWO flight 268s, both leaving from LAX to Heathrow, an hour apart from each other, and the only difference between the two tickets was the date in the bottom corner; our ticket saying July 9th (although it was in fact the 10th) and the other flight's ticket saying July 10th. It was very confusing all around.

The flights ended up being pretty easy, with the exception of our entertainment system not being loaded until 4.5 hours into the flight, and even then it wasn't the usual menu style that they've had in the past, but rather the kind were there were only a few movies, one on each channel, and you couldn't stop and restart your movie. That ended up being fine, though, since I somehow managed to sleep for five hours of the flight and was awoken by the stewardess slamming down my box of Kosher breakfast on Sam's food tray. I did however get to watch Clash of the Titans. Still good even on a 3x5 inch screen.

Funny thing that I learned during the travel adventure: Olympic Airlines is like the Southwest of Europe. Even though you had assigned seats, they were super chill the entire time, to the point of there being groups of children just hanging out in the aisle way of the airplane. They also were constantly giving us drinks, including booze, and passed out candy before the plane took off. That and the meal that they served was legit good. I'm not entirely sure whether I thought it was tasty because it was the best of the three airplane meals that i had eaten in a row, or because I was really really hungry at the time, or because it was actually good. No matter, it made me a happy camper, unaffected by Xanax as I never had to take it during the entire flight.

We finally got into Athens at 10:45pm, but were unable to be picked up from the airport until 11:45 due to some major bumper to bumper traffic between the Corinth toll road and another toll road. While Sam and I were waiting to be picked up outside, we befriended a kitten that was sitting in the waiting area next to the parking lot. We would meow at it and it would periodically meow back at us. Sam made a concerted effort to pet it, but it would give us the warning meow whenever we tried. Sooner or later we got picked up, and made it back to Mikines by 1am, after which we both passed out.

Work started (THANK GOD) for us at 10 this morning, allowing us some extra time to sleep in because we got in so late. Usually it will start at 8am and will go until 3pm. We were provided with some official looking laminated name cards issued by the government for archaeology students, although they are only meant for grad students so we have to pretend. Today we were given the job of counting and cleaning bags of animal bones that were dug up with corresponding bags of pottery sherds that were out on the tables being sorted and put back together. The bones were surprisingly entertaining, and cleaning them with water and a soft toothbrush made my hands really pruney in strange patterns (ie some parts of my fingers would be pruney, and other parts not). We will probably be doing something similar tomorrow, although most of our time will most likely be spent working with the pots. I seriously doubt that we're going to be able to dig on site, which is fine by me as the museum room were we work is slightly air-conditioned.

After work we got to Dr. Shelton's inlaw's house next door to our hostel and they made us lunch, which today was homemade french fries, tsatsiki, meatloaf, and Greek salad. This will be standard fare for lunch, which I am excited about since I will a) not have to pay for lunch, and b) be fed real food. It's so nice to be able to eat homemade food while I'm here since last year it definitely got old eating the same food at the same restaurants over and over again. Then Sam and I were each allotted 100euros spending money to last us as long as possible, which we speculate will probably be about 10 or 11 days, depending on if we eat dinner since we are fed a lot at lunch. Then after lunch we took a nap and are now planning on studying for Greek/Turkish/Latin/whatever after that since it is way too hot during the afternoon to do much outside. We'll see how well that lasts.

I'll try to start posting pictures of the town as soon as I start taking pictures to give people an idea of its tiny-ness. It's actually quite adorable.