At the same time many Greeks are forced to abandon their country because of the crisis, a couple of Scottish journalists took their dog and moved to Greece. Marjory and Jim, along with their dog Wallace, settled in Mani, the southernmost and middle peninsula of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece. They ignored the warnings of their friends and of Greek people and came to live in Greece, inspired by a phrase by Nikos Kazantzakis, the important Greek writer and philosopher.
“The timing was poor, I agree, but after an Arctic winter, a recession and a harsh restructuring of the newspaper industry in Scotland, what was there to fear from Greece on the edge, and heading for a disorderly exit from the Eurozone?” Marjory reported, describing the adventures they experienced in Greece.
The couple settled down in Megali Mantineia, a mountain settlement in the municipal unit of Avia, Messenia, Greece, seeking something authentic, as the region has not changed for decades and people live in a traditional way, breeding their animals and cultivating their fields and olive trees.
Marjory described their adventures in Greece, the plight of Greek bureaucracy, the heatwaves, the water cuts and the scorpions’ raids in the stone house they had rented.
A happy incident for them was the acquaintance with a local woman, a goat farmer named Foteini, whom they met one day they had taken their dog for a walk. Foteini took them under her wing and taught them Greek traditions and customs, while she often invited them to her farmhouse for coffee, which was an experience the Scottish couple enjoyed.
Foteini taught them about rural works, as they helped her harvest the olives from some of her 200 trees, which was the hardest manual job they had ever done.
Marjory added that they had finally adjusted to the life in Mani and participated in local events. They made many Greek friends, who invited them to their homes and shared their stories with them, many of which were about the crisis that dramatically changed their lives.
“We saw first-hand how the economic crisis affected these people with job losses and wage and pension cuts. We also saw just how stoical Greeks can be in difficult times,” she said.
All these experiences will be recorded in her new book, under the title Things Can Only Get Feta, a paraphrase of the sentence Things can only get better.
“Despite Greece sliding deeper into economic and political disaster, we retained our enthusiasm for our Greek adventure and stayed in Mani for three years, with Greeks telling us this time we were mad,” Marjory said.
The Scottish journalist concluded that, as Kazantzakis, the author of Zorba the Greek wrote, “A man needs a little madness, or else… he never dares cut the rope and be free.”