While we are digging in Greece, we are staying in the small town of Nea Olinthos, next to the archaeological site. This is not a very tourist-y town, so not a lot of the locals speak much English, and we almost exclusively socialize within our own group. However, our living situation brings us into extensive contact with a few of locals, who help us with our various arrangements.
There is a hotel in the town, but we stay in houses and apartments that locals from the village rent out to us for the season. There is one man named Makis who arranges this for us, and acts as the middle man between us and the landlords (as the landlords don’t speak English). He arranges who stays where and collects the payment from us to redistribute to the landlords. If there is ever a maintenance problem, we go to Makis with it and he communicates with the landlords to get it resolved. Makis also owns a taverna, which is where we eat dinner every night. Makis is the man we interact with the most as a group, and he is crucial to the success of our living situation.
The person we interact with the most regularly on a more personal basis, however, is a woman named Maria who owns the main (read: only) grocery store in the town. When the dig first started coming to the town 5 years ago, she spoke barely any English, but she has learned a great deal since then to communicate with us and with tourists who stay at the hotel. She is very nice and always makes sure we understand what we are buying and don’t accidentally get the wrong thing because we can’t read the labels. She is a shrewd businesswoman as well- she started accepting card this year, and is the only vendor I have ever seen in this area of Greece who does so.
Though I cannot interact a great deal with many of the locals, Makis and Maria are key elements of my experience here.
Featured image: a view from the table at Makis’ taverna, looking across the street at Maria’s shop.