Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Fourth of July (on the fifth)

Yes, all right, this daily blogging thing can - on occasion -be impractical. I know it's a "day" late, but I just didn't get it typed on time to be "the fourth".


So suddenly social! Went to a lovely get together with about twenty neighbors this evening. We're lucky, they are all quite charming. Most of them are British and most of them only come for a few months of the year, tho a few have moved or are planning to move here to live year round.

There's a whole swathe of new houses gone up since we first came here. We used to walk the dog through the olive groves that are now lovely back yards to most of this group!

At first, when the building started, I was sort of appalled, as when we picked this place to live we chose it because it was pretty isolated and free of neighbors.

Naturally, immediately after we bought the house, two other houses were built roughly in our line of sight. (It was ever thus...) When we decided to buy this house there were literally no houses for a mile around us. Now there are around thirty!

And it's probably all our fault, because we bought the phone poles and a mile of phone lines.

When we first moved here we had no phone. The phone company hadn't yet installed any lines. For the first three years we lived here, all our communications were done via a mobile phone. NOT the mobile phones connected to WiFi, but rather a plain expensive old mobile phone.

My internet connection to my laptop, was 9400 bauds per second (bps) which isn't even a kilobyte! (compare to my current WiFi connection is 54 Mbps) it took forever to get email and that was how we exchanged communications with the bank in the US, and the accountants and the tax people and all and sundry. Very exciting. I remember our first year of downloading a set of tax forms (for about an hour!)

Anyway, we used to call my mother and our children or they 'd call us and all would be well - IF we stood outside as for some reason on certain long distance phone calls our old Nokia phone would not work well inside the house. This meant that quite often we'd be standing outside in the wind and the rain catching up on "important updates" from our family members.

One of my more memorable moments was trying to explain to my mother why I had to hang up RIGHT NOW! while lightening flashed all around me and kept striking the ground in the not so far away distance!

So we finally broke down and talked to the phone company and spent the ridiculous 2500. euro to buy 16 phone poles and the assorted wiring and cable to make the phone happen.

Of course we also had to buy a metal pole (of a certain diameter and height) and cement it into the ground for the phone wire to be attached to connect to our house. Then we dug the trench to connect the phone to the house which of course baffled the phone people as we "could have just strung a line from the road to the house..."

We were told that as people moved to the neighborhood or the existing houses connected, that we could see a "rebate" of sorts come back to us as they would have to pay a percentage back for the new poles having gone in! Except that was only true for the first two years. After that the poles were in the public domain, and it would be considered "our contribution". (This IS Greece...)

So in the end we did get a rebate of sorts, but as with all things bureaucratic, it arrived as a bill! As we were out of the country at the time, we arrived home to a dead phone (and of course a re-connection fee implicit) and a month long arguement with the phone company (with my beloved friend who speaks Greek and argues really well!)over the fact that instead of crediting our account, they decided to charge us an extra 400 euro. Eventually it was settled. Four neighbors had broken down and connected before the two years were over. We received a donation for the phone poles.

After the two year period though, the building started up in earnest.

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