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July 2018

People who follow me a bit better (for example via Facebook) usually know that I spend a good part of the year in Greece. Since 2002 we have a house on the south coast of the Peloponnese (PeloPONnessos, please pronounce the accent correctly). It is an area that can be called provincial rather than tourist, where there is still a partly agricultural-oriented community that must have taken it all year round from the olives, oranges and grapes. But, admittedly, here too tourism and modern times are slowly advancing. The advantage of this is that every conceivable convenience and necessity is there (ATMs and banks, post offices, good and internationally sorted shops in every area, reasonable road surface, wi-fi everywhere, gas stations, clean toilets and so on), and the downside is of course that it will get a bit busier. However, compared to real tourist resorts such as Zakhyntos, Crete, etcetera, this is still an oasis of peace that is only better to avoid in August. But that applies in principle to the whole of Greece, because then all Greeks go on vacation.

What I do there? You haven't been on vacation for five months, I hear someone doubt. No, I don't want to call it a holiday - we actually move our household to a somewhat sunnier spot on earth, where there is less stress, the beaches nearby, small eateries around the corner and where you spend an average longer time doing things that are completely doesn't matter and finds that - indeed - it can all do manana, although I should actually use the Greek word avrio.

That is quite an entire organization: the journey (by car and boat) takes almost three days. Everything has to be done with it, domestic, cozy and practical stuff of course, but also a keyboard, computer, etc. so that I don't have to spend my days completely empty. Every owner of a foreign house knows that there is a lot to do in order not to let it fade: here (especially here it seems) everything is always broken, rusted, calcified and overgrown. Every spring we are curious about what is not working again. We are rarely disappointed.

When we moved here, I was convinced that we would get in touch with the local people, we would learn Greek and of course I would also meet Greek fellow musicians to broaden my and their musical horizons. Little of that came to pass. Quite a few foreigners live here, especially Germans, English, Dutch and Austrians, and we have had good contact with them. We only know a few Greek better, and they invite us to a wedding, baptism or funeral - but it remains superficial and that is not only because of our poor command of the Greek. Most young Greeks, or those who depend on foreigners, speak excellent English. That is why I gave up learning Greek (incidentally, a very interesting language with an enormous history and influence on Dutch): we can get by at the supermarket and know more or less what the conversation is about. However, it is such a ridiculously difficult language with a lot of cases, conjugations, weird stresses and underlying meanings that we decided to make communication better in English.

Not that we don't know anyone. On the contrary: we may even know more people here than in the Netherlands. Because everyone and everything here is mostly outside and usually moves around the same place, you are constantly waving, nodding or shouting hello. The tiler who once tiled a wall with us, still say friendly hello. For your mail you have to go to the post office. For special shipments we don't even need to identify ourselves - not that they know your name, but they do believe it because you've lived there for so many years. Two days here and we've seen everyone again.

I have not come across fellow musicians here. A bit of benevolent amateurs, but when I wanted to pair me with a singer who had musical ambitions and wanted to show that at a local party with me as a pianist accompanist, I kept that off consistently. Occasionally classical concerts are organized at the church, and they should continue to do so, but an evening of Brahms with piano and violin does not really appeal to me personally. Often these are Swedes or Germans who know it here and like to do something like that (compensation is only in the form of a bottle of wine). I'm fine with that, and if they asked Kayak, please. Also, I would know some great locations here to be able to play, but I'm afraid the budget is not enough.

I like the somewhat moody atmosphere here. We have and take our time here. You must, I would almost say. When we got here there was no internet, only Greek TV (an experience in itself) and the newspaper I read maybe once a week. It became clear to me then that the Netherlands was not the center of the world and that if you don't follow the news for a week, the earth will just keep going.

Many a Kayak album has been written there, perhaps precisely because of that rest - although you have to be careful not to keep thinking that the avrio is also possible. But take Nostradamus, Letters from Utopia, Cleopatra or Seventeen: most of the Kayak material from the last 15 years has been created, on the veranda and in my little first aid studio overlooking the Messinias gulf.

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