Thursday, June 18, 2015


Image result for st lazarus square byron athens

The senior citizens sit on benches and twirl their worry beads absentmindedly. They stare in the distance. The men, at least. The women feed the pigeons or sit next to the men, attempting to chat. Some simply stare too. Pigeons walk around our feet, jump on a chair and try to grab our potato chips or chocolate cakes. Their feathers flutter around, fall on our heads or inside our coffee cups. Disgusting pigeons! Aggressive little birds ubiquitous as clouds.

At the square there are so many older people. With canes. Some smoking. White-haired. Doing nothing. There is very little grass, mostly brown soil, dry and stony. Short trees offer shade. The chapel of St. Lazarus attracts a few faithful. When they walk by, they cross themselves.

They spend several hours at the square before going home for lunch and a nap.

The children, like children everywhere, play ball or with their iPads. Roughhouse. Mothers admonish good behavior, yelling to be heard above their din.

The highlight of the day is - what are we making for lunch?

-What are you making?
-Okra with lamb. And you?
-Fish with greens.
-We had fish yesterday.
-Yes, fish is good for you. We'll have okra tomorrow.
-I'm tired of meat, meat every day.

The square is busy enough to make us feel alive but not too chaotic. A good place to read, write, and listen to other people's conversations.

A statue of Lord Byron keeps watch from the center of the square. The neighborhood also bears his name. A hero for the Greeks, there are other statues around the city and references to his support and dedication to the cause of Greek Independence in the 19th century. He fought the Ottomans and died in 1824 at the Battle of Messolonghi.

Under the watchful eyes of Lord Byron the Greek people try to return to some kind of glory days, not to fall into despair, to survive and triumph.

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