Moving on up

posted in: Life in Lesvos | 0
Working on the new fountain in the park

The only thing I know about the political situation in Greece is that economically they have been (and may remain) in a pretty bad way, and that the EU in general, and Germany in particular, have imposed a pretty austere budget in an attempt to get their economy under control.  My apologies if that is an oversimplification;  as I say, my knowledge is patchy at best.  I do know that Grexit was a thing before Brexit was.  Not that Grexit happened (but then, as yet, neither has Brexit.)

There is physical evidence of decline.  There are some areas of town with clusters of derelict shops, and plenty of abandoned factories in the industrial estates outside town.  On the other hand, the main shopping street looks pretty healthy, better than its British equivalent, though it probably isn’t fair to use a tourist town as an example; if there is one time people put aside their laptops and shop in actual shops, it is when they are on holiday.

There are also lots of large houses which at one time must have been magnificent, but which are now empty, derelict, and “beyond economic repair.”  But Mytilini is actually better off in this respect than other places I have seen which once had a proud history: Havana, Myanmar, Johannesburg.  The specific causes of decline are different in each case, but in each case it is sad to see the sorry state to which they have been reduced.

But there are also positive signs in Mytilini.  Modern shops on Ermou are undergoing rapid refurbishment, even in the short time I have been here.  And one particular project is the nearby park.  An elaborate guided pathway for the blind has just been laid, new decorative walls and flower-beds built, and a large central fountain is under construction.  The children’s playground is as yet in a sorry state, with broken slides and roundabouts, and for now it is surrounded by a high security fence (though I was amused to see one father helping his young children to scramble over.) A contractor told me the whole project would be complete in two months.  The cost? Nearly half a million euros.  Paid for by the EU.


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