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Learning to be Late/ The Thickening of the Skin

Greeks yell. As a general rule they yell. Happy, sad, angry, ecstatic- they just yell. When I first arrived on Skyros, I was very nearly overwhelmed by all of the raised voices and was pretty certain that I was ALWAYS in trouble for one reason or another. As a sensitive, fairly emotionally keyed-in American, it’s taken me nearly a month to adapt to all of the yelling and to learn to yell myself. For example, yesterday, I was helping two of the kids we have working with us. The goal was to catch a rooster for the workers who we’re coming to clear out old brush/debris for the festival. They were laughing and screaming, having a brilliant time. And then things started to escalate. I’m not 100% okay with the disposal of these creatures and my main goal in facilitating their capture is to make things as least stressful/unterrifying as possible.

But the kids, speaking ONLY Greek, were unaware of my bleeding, vegan, American heart. Unheeded by my calm attempts to communicate (with my limited Greek vocabulary) that they needed to slowwwwww down and be quiet, they continued to throw things and run around the stable until all of the trapped chickens were in a frenzy. That’s when of went Greek. Pulling myself up to my full height, I yelled STOMATA TORRA (stop now!). And, my god, they froze. And began listening to my halting instructions. I spent the remainder of the evening (including 2 performance rehearsals and a schooling session with the stallions) yelling. No one flinched. No one got angry. But they heard me. Which was an improvement over the last month of receding into the shadows when discussions began.

Another crucially Greek thing that has been a challenge for me is the concept of being late. When appointments are set for 9am, people show up at 1045; when sand is set to be delivered on a Monday evening, it arrives Friday morning. Nothing here happens when it’s supposed to. Amanda’s constant reminder to me is “just go with the flow… And get rid of your watch.” Which is what I’ve done. I’m even going to intentionally be 10 minutes late heading back to the farm today. Yikes…

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