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Back in the Kourounis taverna in is as if I had never left

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 10 May 2016

Having checked out the hovel on Sunday I drove back into the village of Kambos. There have been a few more potholes mended on the two or three mile track from the house into the village. But for every one mended another has appeared including a quite giant crater at the base of snake hill. Somehow I manage to wiggle past it and am soon sitting in on a quiet lunchtime in the Kourounis taverna owned by lovely Eleni.

I wander in with my laptop and sit in my normal seat. At the bar are Vangelis, the man in the pink shirt, and Nicho the communist, the chap with whom I had a bit of a disagreement over football on my first night in Kambos but who is now my firm friend. The two men sit in the same seats they were in the day I left last time, next to the bar tapping away at their PCs. The only change is that one of them, Nicho, has swapped fags for vaping. Or so I thought. On my next visit on the Monday he was back on the fags leaving me feeling extremely smug as I now approach my three month anniversary of being clean.

Cala? Vangelis asks. I reply Ne and that one word seems to encourage him in the idea that I have learned Greek and off he goes. I stare blankly and Nicho, one of the rare English speakers in Kambos wades in to assist. We are back where we left off.
Lovely Eleni is there, holding the daughter that was born when I was here for the olive harvest in December. I shake her hand but she leans over for the European kiss on both cheeks. I know men do that here, a reason I very firmly push out my arm when meeting anyone male. But a man and a woman? I thought that was not what happened. I really do not understand the etiquette here at all. Eleni explains the Greek name for her baby which is one of those names that is so long and so Greek that I have not got a hope of remembering or pronouncing it but I smile at the infant and it smiles back. I tell Eleni that I am glad to meet someone in Kambos who speaks less Greek than me.

The baby is named after the mother in law of lovely Eleni who potters over and as ever opens with Cala? Ne I reply. It is groundhog day as she too seems to think that I have learned Greek. Now there is no-one to rescue me and I just smile like an idiot and shrug my shoulders. As I tap away various other folks wander in and greet me warmly. They arrivals include the man who helps harvest my olives, George the Albanian, and his English speaking son. I now make that three English speakers in the village plus half a speaker for Vangelis in the snake repellent store.

On the subject of which, I ask Nicho if the snakes are awake yet. Rather predictably he responds that they are and says that he has seen many snakes already. It is apparently a very good snake season on the mountains behind Kambos where the Greek Hovel lies. I can tell that he is taking great pleasure in relaying this to me. My fear of snakes is well known to all and the fact that I live in a snake infested patch of the countryside is seen as a bit of a local joke.

The snake repellent shop is out of the canisters which I use to protect the hovel. I am told that new stock will arrive on Wednesday. Hmmmm. That means that if I install Wednesday I can move in on Thursday. Until then I can enjoy the luxury of Kalamata where there seem to be no snakes.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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