|An all-too-common sight|
That was more than a year ago. Since then, despite several official promises that ‘things were going to get resolved’ nothing has been done. Consequently, large mounds of rubbish pile up all over the island. From time to time they are collected and even shipped to treatment plants in Athens as a last resort at vast expense. Sometimes they resort to the very clever solution of turning streets leading to the main town into improvised garbage dumps.
|One of the main streets turning into a dump|
|Even the streams are clogged|
“Thank God for Clean Monday (the beginning of Orthodox Lent). Before then the rubbish was even worse than you see now. You could barely walk anywhere. Suddenly the officials got busy and started to clean things up about a week ago. I have no idea where they’re taking it, but at least the mountains of rubbish are somewhat reduced. Fortunately we have had a cold winter so the stench was somewhat controlled. We will probably have another break for Easter when I’m sure they will find another place to hide it as the island starts to fill up again. We could do with another miracle. God knows what they will do in summer when it gets really hot and the population of the island more than triples,” said one disgusted local.
It’s not as if they are no solutions. Several have been proposed, but for some mysterious reason none has been acted upon, or even widely discussed. One of the better ones seemed to be the construction of a treatment plant at the southern tip of the island far from any population center. One land owner even said he would make more than enough land available. One attraction of this plan would be that the plant could also handle the rubbish that could be brought from the neighboring island of Tinos, only a few hundred yards away. There may be no Greek government funding available for such a project right now, but officials could at least research the possibility of a European Union grant on environmental and health grounds.
But so far, there is only thundering silence from local officials. Andros is blessed with unparalleled museums, wonderful neo-classical buildings, beautiful hills, ancient pathways, green valleys, rushing streams, and, of course, the Aegean Sea. With these natural resources and rich maritime tradition Andros could be a magnet for up-market, high quality tourism. But sadly, this opportunity seems to be slipping away under ever increasing mounds of rubbish.
While I’m at it . . . I have no idea who is responsible for maintaining historic monuments on Andros, but I really do wish someone would take a look at the remains of the Venetian castle that guards the entrance to the harbor of the main town Chora. This castle used to be graced by a tall flag pole with a large Greek flag flying proudly above. For more than a year the flag pole has stood barren and rusting with no flag. A flag is a powerful symbol of pride and determination. In these difficult times it would be fitting to see that symbol returned to its rightful place. “We may be in tough shape, but we’re still here.”
|Where is the flag?|