Author Topic: A quiet island life  (Read 1020 times)

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Offline Maik

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A quiet island life
« on: Friday, 07 June, 2019 @ 15:34:27 »
Wanted: People willing to live on a beautiful, remote Greek island

The three Andronikos children had been dressed with care. Their white shirts were ironed, their shoes were vigorously shined and their faces had been scrubbed clean. They’d rehearsed their lines until they were word-perfect, in preparation for a momentous occasion. The president of Greece was scheduled to visit this tiny island, and the Andronikos siblings, the only pupils at the newly reopened school on Antikythera, were the main attraction.

Last month’s stopover was relatively brief, part of a whirlwind tour for Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos. But it was a big deal for Antikythera, where the official population is listed at 20. The president’s entourage outnumbered the locals, and everyone on the island with a car was asked to help ferry the visitors to the hilltop school for the ceremony.

A small windswept dot of land, located between the vastly larger island of Crete and the Greek mainland, Antikythera could do with a baker, a builder and maybe a veterinarian. But what the island desperately needs is young families. Before the three children arrived last September, Antikythera’s only school had been shut for 24 years, testimony to the forces — the country’s continuing financial crisis, emigration, a declining birthrate and an aging population — that threaten the island’s survival.

What’s happening on Antikythera is a microcosm of what’s going on in the entire country as Greece continues to deal with a demographic malaise exacerbated by the departure of young professionals of child-bearing years.

Tourism remains a major industry in Greece, but Antikythera doesn’t lend itself easily to the sort of tourism that draws throngs of visitors to other islands such as Santorini and Mykonos. The beaches are beautiful but inaccessible. Ferries to the island are at the mercy of treacherous winds that can leave visitors stranded. There are no taxis, no supermarkets and no gas stations.