Thank goodness we can fill up the car with gas for 30 Euro this winter! But this summer, we faced a bit more of a challenge! Here's a story from the summer about buying gas and taking a walk in my neighborhood.
I heard on the news last night that oil is now being sold for $142.00 a barrel. Since I'm not part of a family dynasty relying on profits from oil to make my fortune, the consistent rise in the price of oil is, in fact, unfortunate.
Gasoline for the car costs about €1.35 per liter. In gallons that translates into $8.05 per gallon. Yes, that is $8.05 per gallon!
We've cut back on our driving to the point where we buy a full tank of gas every ten days. When we do buy gas we have to carry at least €50.00 (today that's about $75.00) just to be sure we can pay!
Not that it would get us into any trouble with the people that own the gas station if we didn't have enough cash! They know us from our buying gas and fuel oil for the house these past eight years. If I didn't have enough money the owner or her son or husband would still fill up the car, knowing I would return later to pay, because we live within walking distance.
We live half a block south of Odos Agia Kiriaki, Saint Kiriaki Street. (Kiriaki means Sunday in Greek.) The street runs parallel to the sea coast. If we turn east at the corner the street takes a steep dip downhill, past small homes and empty leather tanning factories. It then gently curves into a small harbor area.
The church of Saint Kiriaki sits a few feet north of the harbor, sheltered from north winds by a hill that turns into a sheer cliff if you walk further east.
At the foot of the cliff are a few small caves carved out by the wind and water. Last year, in one of the caves, I noticed a lawn chair! Here's a cool place with just enough room for one to escape the summer heat!
The church is small, painted a fresh white with sky-blue accents. Every year a fair is held in honor of Saint Kiriaki. A mass is held, bread is shared by the congregation. People set up booths spilling into the street selling candy and nuts, toys and CD's, jewelry and trinkets. Usually there are fireworks.
But, as I was explaining, if I didn't have enough money when I filled up my gas tank, I would head west on Agia Kiriaki to walk to the Eko station to pay Kiria Roula (Mrs. Roula). I would walk about four blocks west and at each intersection I would stop, look north and admire the sea reaching all the way to the horizon. It's a wonderful sight!
I know to turn north when I reach an asphalted area used for parking in front of the nursing home in our neighborhood. The nursing home looks like an old, fine hotel with a garden in the front and benches inside the garden and along the outside of the garden fence.
A favorite resting spot for some of my elderly neighbors is the wooden bench under a huge eucalyptus tree outside the garden. It's a favorite not because it has a good view but because it is so pleasantly cool.
My children used to play soccer and ride bikes with their friends in front of the nursing home in the evenings. When they got ‘too old' for playing they would sit with their friends on the concrete benches inside the garden to chat and flirt.
But (I remember!) I'm on my way to pay Mrs. Roula!
At the nursing home I walk to the north. Unless it's a stormy day with a sky full of dense grey clouds, I can see the mountains in the distance as I walk downhill the three or four remaining blocks to the gas station.
Mrs. Roula is the most attractive owner of a gas station I have ever met. She is one of the few women who can carry off wearing tight jeans and look good! She has black hair that flows down her back to her hips when she wears it loose.
Mrs. Roula has always been kind to me even when I get mixed up with my Greek words.
As the price of gasoline climbs, I'll probably be walking to the Eko station to say ‘Hello' a lot more often than I'll be driving there to say "Giamiste to". . . "Fill it up"!
vsn June 28, 2008