Cactus Flower

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When we saw two rapidly growing asparagus-like sprouts protruding from one of our faithful old cacti, we knew it was going to flower. During the last week, every morning the shoots grew at least one inch longer. We’d never seen this plant bloom before so it was kind of exciting to watch. Last night, at midnight, Latham called us into the garden to show us that the flowers were in bloom. I didn’t know flowers bloomed at night!  By morning, one of the flowers was already past its best. This afternoon they are fading fast. Rare, briefly-lived flowers, caught on film. Aren’t they pretty?!

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The Church of the Panagia Daskalakis

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Panayia Daskalakis is one of our favourite hiking destinations. We’ve been hiking up to it from our house for the best part of the last twenty years. We have carried Latham up in a baby backpack, explored as a group of moms and toddlers and, once school started, we’ve continued to visited each summer when we return. Every year we take family or friends up to enjoy a morning breakfast picnic of still warm croissants or tiropetas from the bakery.  We  sit at the church a while to take in the view before we continue on our hike. This year it was just the three of us.

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The property belonged to the Greek industrialist, Dimitris Daskalakis. The church is kept in excellent condition and painted every year before an annual festival.

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Its built in seating is the best picnic spot, with beautiful views across the harbour.

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Daskalakis built a large waterfront textile factory on the island in the 1920s, which created jobs for the Spetsiots until it closed after the second world war.  Daskalakis died in 1939 just as war broke out again and is buried here at the church.

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Dimitrios Daskalakis, Industrialist 29-9-1939

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Unlike the church, his adjacent home is in ruins. When we first visited about 18 years ago, the roof was still in place, covering the kitchen, and kitchen tiles were still on the floor.  The living/sleeping area had half a roof.  Now both are long collapsed.

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This year, after a very long time, I was finally able to step inside the ruin. For a long time the floor has been too precarious to walk on,  but now the beams and tiles have rotten down and the ground is solid again.  A pine tree inside stands as testament to how much time has passed without a roof.

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There’s still a communal bench strung between two trees, but it has gotten very rickety with time.  The kids would always climb on top of it and have their photos taken.  I think its much too frail now to take their weight.

 

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A little reminder of earlier visits

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This was the kitchen.

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….and an upstairs closet

I’m sure the church will continue to be preserved and the house will continue to crumble. We plan on continuing to keep track of its progress ;o)

Spot the Greek Kitty!

Because there aren’t enough cute kitten pictures on the internet, and no one has ever before thought of putting together a collection of Greek cat pictures, here is my collection of cute kitty pictures from yesterday evenings walk.  The little rascals were great at camouflage. How many can you spot?

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The Smell of Home

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Daily Prompt: From the yeasty warmth of freshly baked bread to the clean, summery haze of lavender flowers, we all have favorite smells we find particularly comforting. What’s yours?

Tomorrow I board a plane for a much anticipated break to our Greek home.   I know our life there so well.  There are so many memories. I can imagine myself sitting on the wall with my legs dangling down to the street, looking out to sea.  I can hear Greek voices and the occasional putting of a boat engine.  I can hear the straining of motorcycle as struggles up the hill to the street below. It all seems a million miles away from Kathmandu, away from the incessant honking and the frustrating chaos of it all.   It’s so hard to imagine such a radically different place from the one that consumes me now. Like traveling from a cold, harsh climate to the summer sun, its a leap of faith to know that it really is there waiting for us.

Somewhere among all the memories is the island smell, but I can’t place it exactly.  Its a heady mixture of mountain herbs, jasmine blossom,  pine trees, Greek cooking sifting over the wall from the neighbor’s kitchen, and island mystery ingredients.  I can’t place it,  but I know the smell.   Its the smell of home.

Visiting Nepali Schools

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A public school just outside of Kathmandu

One of the best things I do here – and sometimes one of the hardest – is visiting schools. I get to see all kinds of age groups, public and private schools, as well as college level students. Education here is not available to everyone, and public education is hugely underfunded and mostly leaves a lot to be desired.  There are some amazing dedicated public school teachers who operate the best they can with very little but often this isn’t the case.  Sometimes it can be very hard to see how little they have. Many schools have virtually nothing in the way of facilities and school libraries are a rarity, which is why we have a mobile library that travels to road-accessible areas all over Nepal to bring books, educational presentations and internet technology to kids that have sometimes never seen them before.

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Embassy book bus on a school visit

The upside to the visits is always meeting the kids and seeing/hearing their questions, enthusiasm and curiosity.  They love the books – which many of them don’t get to see very often – and it’s very rewarding to see them absorbed into the world of reading.  I can’t help taking pictures.  Here are a few of my favourites:

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A Word a Week Photo Challenge: Traditional

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I’m spoiled for choice with this week’s word “Traditional“, as tradition reigns in Nepal. But I think I’ll go for something Filipino to ring the changes… These adorable kids from a local school were doing the traditional hat and stick dance at our Embassy welcome party, and they lit up the room!

For the original story see Community Welcome Party.

Spam and Quips

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How often do you stop to see how many fake comments Akismet has removed from your inbox?  I hardly ever think about it, and kudos for Akismet for getting rid of so much junk!  But today for some reason I took a look in the spam box and the hilarious fake comments were outstanding.  I think they deserve their coveted recognition once in a while – so here they are published but without the back link of course!  Sometimes I’m almost tempted to respond back…

Here’s a few of my favourites:

You’re so intelligent. You already know thus significantly on the subject of this matter, made me for my part believe it from so many varied angles.

O gee thanks!  You’re the first person to realize my outstanding intellect.  I’m so flattered…but wait…you don’t really know who I am, do you? 

Hello there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future.A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

Watch out for Brussels? You mean the impact that my outstanding writing makes on the EU commission? Or perhaps, you intend to avoid the danger of subversive brussel sprouts?

 I say to you, I certainly get irked at the same time as people think about issues that they just don’t realize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as neatly as outlined out the whole thing without having side effect , folks can take a signal. Will likely be again to get more. Thank you

Hitting the nail upon the top is why I’m here.  I truly hope to take the cow by the horns and let the crisps fall where they may. Thanks for noticing.