Monday, July 22, 2013

Amalia Discovers Her Greek Village with Fountains, a Manhunt and Ice Cream

On July 19, Amalia went with her Mommy, her Yiayia Joanie, her Papou Nick and her honorary Yiayia, Eleni Nikolaides, to the village of Lia in Northern Greece, which her grandfather Nick Gage wrote about in the book and film  "Eleni" and her Mommy wrote about in the travel memoir "North of Ithaka."
This is the house where Nick was born and, after his mother was imprisoned and then murdered by Communist guerrillas, it fell into ruins and Nick's daughter, Eleni Gage, (now Baltodano) returned to the village for a year in 2002 to oversee the rebuilding of the house, just as her grandmother Eleni had known it.

Nick introduces granddaughter Amalia to the house.

Amalia was more interested in the outdoor fountain.

Where she played with her sand toys.

That night everyone gathered at the Church of the Holy Trinity for the beginning of the annual festival of the Prophet Elias--the village saint.

Papou Nick, Mommy Eleni and Amalia waited outside the church.

After the church service, the icon of the Prophet Elias was paraded through the village, with people joining the parade as it passed their houses. Father Prokopi carried the Bible.

That night everyone gathered in the open space called the Goura to eat lamb and dance and sing. The clarinetist and singer and the rest of the live orchestra came from Albania but sang in Greek--Epirote music.

The next day Papou Nick introduced Amalia to the courtyard of the Inn of Lia.

The courtyard was abuzz with news: two Albanian convicts, who had broken out of a Greek jail months ago, and were presumed to be heading toward Albania where they could not be extradited, had encountered the Greek police at 4:30 this morning in a gun battle in the small town of Vrosina, just at the foot of the mountain road that leads to Lia, (where we stopped yesterday to get provisions)  and one of the two was killed, while wounding a soldier, but the other one escaped.  Now our village was crawling with police, stopping every car to look for the fugitive.  The road over the Kalamas River that divided our mountains from the rest of Greece was being periodically closed and opened.

Amalia distracted herself from the excitement by discovering the spring in the Inn's courtyard.

Where she spent the afternoon floating flower "boats" over the edge into the deep blue sea, with the help of "Yiayia Eleni".

 Nick chose to keep calm and carry on by playing tavli.

While Yiayia Joanie and Amalia put on our sunglasses and drew pictures on the tablecloth.

Later, when Mommy Eleni took Amalia to the nearby playground, it was full of police holding rifles and stopping every car up the road into the village.

As of today, there's no news of the last escaped Albanian, who may be hiding in the famous hollow tree below our village which has sheltered fugitives in the past, including a saint, but while the village waits with bated breath and is both terrified and thrilled to be featured in every news broadcast, Amalia has much more earth-shaking news:  here at the Inn she discovered the Ice Cream Cone.

P.S. If you want to read a much funnier version of these events, check out daughter Eleni's latest blog post at


Joanna DeVoe said...

What an amazing, meaningful project, and gorgeous pics! My faves are at the water fountain. So precious...

Celinda said...