Thoughts on a Mountain
Today I woke up early for class to finish my readings. When I received an email from Rich stating that class was postponed until 11, I took advantage of the great weather and went for a walk. I strolled to the bakery called “Repeat”, ordered a spinach pie and coffee, and went to the park behind my apartment. I walked through the park and up to the rocky top. The walkway to the top is a set of steep stairs and then turns into dirt for the last 20 or so steps. Once at the top, I had a perfect view of the Acropolis and all of Athens. While I was eating my spinach pie, I took a couple minutes to reflect on the parade for Greece’s Independence Day that we had attended the day before.
When we arrived at the street that the parade marched down, it seemed like the whole police squad was lining the street. They were dressed up in a nice police suits and the women police were wearing skirts. Rich told us that today was either the best or worst day to commit a crime, depending on how you look at it. If you commit a crime near the parade, there’s no chance of getting away with it. On the other hand, if a crime is committed somewhere far away from the parade, it will take a while before the police show up because they are all preoccupied at the parade.
We waited until 11 for the parade to start. People gathered on the side of the street watching as the first set guards walked down. The first group was the Red Cross Association. The flag bearer marched with the well-known red flag and a group of people followed behind her in red jumpsuits. We had to wait a couple more minutes for the military branches to start walking down. When they started marching down, we could hear some of the groups chanting something in Greek. I thought it was an anthem or something similar, but Chrissy assured us it wasn’t. They also all had a specific march. Their right foot would be a normal step, but their left would extend up 90 degrees and then out straight before stomping on the ground. Although there are only four branches of the military, I saw dozens of different uniforms. Among them, there was a group marching down in their full camouflage with face paint, a group of pilots wearing their helmets, and divers in all black suits carrying flippers and oxygen tanks.
Each group marched down wearing different uniforms and carrying different types of weapons. While watching each set, I noticed that the women soldiers were always in the back of the group. That made me wonder what type of role they play in the Greek society and military culture. I wondered if women were not allowed in combat or if rape was a big problem like it is in the U.S. I also wondered if the reason they were in the back was because of their rank, and were lower ranked in the military than the others in front of them.
The parade ended with a marching band playing an upbeat song and then the police allowed people to walk in the street. The whole time we were waiting to see tanks and other military vehicles but they never showed. Rich asked a police officer why that was and he told Rich that the tanks alternate each year between Thessaloniki and Athens. After the parade, all the girls went to eat and prepared for our upcoming class.
Sitting on top of the hill thinking about the parade, it finally hit me that my time left in Athens is limited and I needed to cherish it. I was glad I had the opportunity to see the parade and be a witness to one of Greece’s most important holidays. I sat up on the hill for a couple more minutes, admiring my view of the acropolis and taking in the good weather. I walked back to the apartment just in time for class to begin. It was a short class today as we talked about the ending of our book Twice a Stranger, and the short stories.
After class, Lauren and I went out to go shopping at a store called Attica. It is a big department store that has areas on each floor for individual stores to display their merchandise. We headed down to the lowest floor to look at the shoes. Lauren bought two pairs of shoes while I just looked; I was trying to save my money for later in the trip when I would want to treat myself. We also walked to other stores because it was such a nice day out.Upon returning home, all the girls decided to walk to the main street about ten minutes away and go to a bigger market. We were hoping to find a larger variety of foods, and we did! We even found taco seasoning so that we could make tacos for one of our next meals. We all got a couple snacks for our upcoming trip, and Haley and Chrissy bought supplies for their meal that night. They made a mix with coconut chicken, rice and vegetables. After dinner and for the rest of the night, we all did our own thing. I finished up my readings and caught up on a couple of T.V. sho