Monday, November 30, 2009

My Nigerian Problem

IMG_9113 more acropolis, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Well. You've been waiting to hear about my lovely holiday with Mr D in Athens, Greece, I know it. But it wouldn't be a story from me without that necessary frisson of danger, that oh shit, we're screwed here feeling. Because I can't just "go out to lunch in Athens," can I?

No, not really, and not ever. You know it.

Mr D and I took in the Parthenon,

IMG_9121 parthenon, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

and the agora, and the amphitheatre,

IMG_9094 amphitheatre, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

and the whatsis and the whatnot,

IMG_9111 caryatids, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

with a couple of museums thrown in there for good measure. As usual, with Mr D running ops at 110%, all the resultant climbing and scaling of steep Greek acropolises meant that by 2 in the aft we were bushed and ready to have lunch and a long sit-down, with a glass or three of wine. At the very least I can assert that my glutes were well worked out. We don't need any bloody fitness room at a hotel, ever.

Cut to a quiet pedestrian shopping avenue, where we sat down under shady umbrellas for ages while the waiters decided whether or not to bring us menus. As we waited, we watched the street scene. Here was a drama of Sisyphean proportions (how Greek!) unfolding before us.

IMG_9273 street repairer, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

A curb repairer was trying to restore some concrete at two in the afternoon. Cars whizzed by, honking, pedestrians dodged past him or over him, his supply truck obstructed traffic, yet he gamely toiled on.

IMG_9271 repairer's tough job, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

A few minutes after he completed his work, a motorcycle ran directly over the finished repair. And he stolidly began all over again, re-repairing the botched job.

As I photo-ed this lonely concrete layer, (along with a rather handsome bunch of Greek men apparently hooking up for some later action),

IMG_9280 greek guys, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

there was a sudden commotion. A group of 5 or 6 black guys, all carrying huge sacks, came careening, bounding, leaping over the paver, running past our restaurant's tables.

IMG_9277 street sellers, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

They stopped a little way past, up the pedestrian avenue. I quietly took a couple of photos, and then returned to studying my menu, which had finally arrived.

Then we had the motorcyclist running over the wet concrete, ruining it.

IMG_9274_mask, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

Another photo or two.

At that precise moment, there was a frantic outburst of yelling, and as I casually glanced up from my camera's viewfinder, I realised that the gang was shouting, pointing, and all coming straight for me.

The guy on the far left was suddenly in my face, screaming, "Why, why? Why take pictures? Why?"

Aghast, I started to shut down, just like three years ago.

"Look," I laughed. "Look, here, I'm just taking pictures. It's nothing. Here, want to see?" and I showed him the photo on the camera's tiny screen. "Look, nothing! See?"

"Why? Why take pictures? WHY?" His face was inches from mine. I could only see his lips moving right in front of my eyes. His eyes were fierce and my world was slowing down.

"WHY? WHY? WHY?" He spat the words at me.

A screek of metal as Mr D pushed back his chair and started to stand up from his seat. "Hey! Hey! Hey! We're only tourists! She's just taking pictures. Leave us alone."

I glanced over at him and silently willed him to calm down or shut up. Be quiet, Mr D! Don't make it worse.

"It's fine," I said. "Fine. Here, look!" I laughed easily, carelessly, again. And I thought to myself, "what the bloody hell am I doing, holding my camera out here for him to grab, or hit me with, or... bloody what? Am I able to erase a photo if he demands it, under this kind of pressure? Jesus save me, this is going an entirely wrong direction."

I have no idea what all the other café diners were doing or thinking. No one moved a muscle.

IMG_9268 street cafe, originally uploaded by ehdindigo.

And then suddenly, nothing happened, and the leader finally pulled back away from my face, glared at me for another impossibly long moment, and then all of them loped away into the crowd.

Sigh.... Just when you think you're over it.



Christine said...

Holy smoke!!!! That made my heart do somersaults!

Anonymous said...

E, really sorry about the stupidity on the street with the over-sensitive bag-boys, but on a much lighter note I could not help but notice how slow Greek progress is - I photographed those exact same buildings (in your first few frames) in 1974 when I was there and the restoration is in the exact same state as I observed then!!!

Bill W said...

I suppose that it would NOT have helped to ask the bag boys, "Hey, so what DO you have in the bag, and where did you get it?" Nice photographs, though! Sounds like a great trip!

@eloh said...

Excellent butt shot on the greek guy.

The bag boys... up to no good that's for sure.

I have a different personality. But you did well in describing the circumstances. Tough call. But then I'm also a six footer.

I followed your link back. What the hell. A gun to the head is nothing to take lightly. You should probably talk that out. Before it does you in anyway.

Peace, you are a stong one for sure.

expateek said...

Christine -- I hope things are calmer in Canada!?!?! :-)

stainless -- nothing ever changes, really, does it? But I think we'd feel cheated if all the restoration was "done" -- nothing to look at or speculate about...

Bill -- it was counterfeit handbags, and we saw them all over town, everywhere we went, all week long. You had the feeling you were being followed -- or accidentally following them. The police were constantly chasing them from one place to the next. I kind of thought about buying a bag, but after the incident, I was afraid I'd end up in a big bag, at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Brrr.

eloh -- maybe I should bring you with me on my next trip, could use a bodyguard since I seem to step in the sh** often enough! And yes, some more trauma counseling is probably in order at some point; at the time I found the trauma team and some of the counseling I took part in afterwards made things even more traumatic (although maybe that's the point). I can certainly say the experience changed me forever. You never look at things the same way ever again, as I'm sure you well know. xx