Sunday, November 18, 2007

Day 43 - Grave Thoughts

Paul has not seen where Nicole’s grandparents are buried, so we decide to spend the afternoon at the cemetery. Expecting a quiet grim afternoon, Paul is somewhat surprised by the colourful, busy atmosphere of the graveyard. Not at all like the UK.

Men, women, and children constantly come and go, and there is much talking amongst them. Not the kind of hushed, nervous whispers one usually makes, afraid that they might wake the dead, but natural tones of conversation you would expect at a café. It’s rather lovely.

Each grave is a raised marble enclosure covered in plastic flower wreaths, icons, and photos of the deceased. Collectively, the place feels like a sacred portrait gallery; a unique life story hidden behind each pair of eyes.

A team of women, wearing black, light the oil lanterns in each headstone. Most Greek families pay for their loved one’s lantern to be lit every evening as a memorial to the deceased. When the sun goes down, the effect of the yellow flames flickering in the dark is beautifully festive. We walk away reflecting on all this beauty.

We also reflect on the general lower than expected age of departure and wonder if the kamikaze driving, many cakes, and 3 ½ packets of fags smoked each day has something to do with it. Humorously, we note that these elements never make it into the lectures of the NHS when preaching the virtues of the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle to a UK public experiencing an obesity crisis.

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