My original plans for this month were to write three posts: the first one with the trip to Turkey and the end of September; a second with the main trips of October; and a third with the fieldwork in Thessaloniki and Preveza. I’ll do one now, and leave a second for the begining of next month. Why? Because I am finding it very difficult to sit down [or lay down like now] and write. I haven’t even opened Netflix these past weeks.
So, I came back to Athens and tried to work hard for a week… I finished some tasks, but work keeps piling and for every one I cross another couple appear. Why? Mainly because I travel too much. And I will come to that later. This year I had two missions before I leave Greece: Santorini [Akrotiri] and Dilos. After an unexpected trip to Dilos this month, both have been accomplished. Still so many things to visit around this amazing country, that I don’t really know how long would it take to actually see all I want to see. Anyway, I also had scheduled the visit to two former Yugoslav countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. It has been extremely tiring, due to lots of driving, but it was really worth and I not only learnt a lot, but enjoyed some amazing landscapes. And I will come to that later, yes. First I would like to comment on the complicated resolution of the war, just years ago, in the region. The Balkans are a very complicated area where religion and ethnicities mix up in a melting pot shaked by the results of the conflict, mainly in BiH. I have to admit I just knew some basics about the whole dymanics and when I arrived to Mostar my mind blew. Montengro is quite interesting as an example, stil under age [independent since 2006] is now in the process of conforming its own institutions properly. In the case of archaeology, for example, READ MORE
I really have the feeling less and less people take holidays in July and August anymore… traditionally out month for fieldwork it is now also a moment for more. In my case, I cannot really relax yet if I want to catch up on schedule, but I have to admit I am not in my best position right now and it is being quite difficult. Years ago I listened carefully to the classes by Almudena Hernando at University in Madrid. Now I am living them. But guess we need to carry on, so after crying a bit, here it goes the summary of last month… Once back from North Macedonia I needed to start preparing the next trip, as it has been by far the longest I have taken… almost three full weeks away from home with a conference and fieldwork in three countries. Next week I’m doing something close to that but in a week and without conference… I needed to visit Jordan, and when I saw the call for a conference on archaeological heritage management, conservation and tourism, I saw it clear. It was probably the best excuse to go. At the same time there were a couple of missing points in Israel and Palestine that I needed to address. It all made sense… almost as much as spending the first night in the airport to save some money. I am not 20 anymore, and this is probably one of the main conclusions I got from this trip. READ MORE
So, June finished and July came… and I had to leave French aside for a bit to focus on the last couple of weeks of Greek. Apparently I got my B1 with a really good grade, so now I can actually defend myself in a conversation. I don’t really feel very confident, but already had to do it and hell it worked. But this month, I have a better story… Some months ago Greece and North Macedonia reached a new historical agreement that left everybody unhappy. Prespa dealt with many issues, also with history, to settle what is hellenic and what is not… Just writing about this issue without any judgement can cost me several comments on social media and this is what makes it even more interesting. Until now I was quite in love with Greece, although never understood why they were so obsessed with their northern neighbours. Now I understand it better and came to the conclusion that they are acting like bullies in many sense. So, let’s get political. First of all, a little bit of historical context… because the conflict goes back to the fourth Century and they try to make very clear that the ‘real’ Macedonians where only in the south. Just reading the Wikipedia helps to see it. And it is not false. However, there is something more in identities than a classical tribe. Specially when during the greatest moment of this tribe the territory conformed parts of half a dozen current states. Anyway, READ MORE
My grandmother was born in a village called ‘Arroyomuerto’ [dead river] and at some point it was decided to change the name into something nobody remembers but appears in Google Maps. When I saw the entry panel to Archaia Messene I remembered it. ‘Mavromati’ [black eye] was the original name of the village where the archaeological site is, but nowadays it took the one of the site for marketing reasons.
While I sit at my hotel in Kalamata, waiting for a new day of fieldwork, I look back to the last month and a half and sigh…
In Spain we use to say we do not want to see someone even in a picture [ni en pintura] when we kind of hate them. It is not my case with Athens, but there are periods I do not see the Acropolis ‘ni en pintura’ although this time, I was able to find a nice painting in the Leventis Gallery in Nicosia last week… Jokes apart, since the last post when I was right back from Morocco, I have been in five countries and a half (North Cyprus is not recognised beyond Turkey) and thirteen cities plus the other half of Nicosia. For many, all this travelling is a dream, but when working is not really that much even enjoying some VIP lounges in the way.
The year started with a difficult decission, and intense work. I needed to start preparing for good all the fieldwork for the project, as time was passing faster than expected and it was the moment to speed things up. This is why in the last weeks since the last update I have been traveling to seven of the focus sites for the project in Greece and Morocco, among other things.
New year, a kind of quiet month and time to sit down, organize, see what I’ve done, what I promised to do and what is left. In sum, time for a mid-term evaluation. Do I pass? Hardly. I have to recognise I have been a bit naive in the design of the project, but also a bit reckless.
Almost Christmas and here I am… finally in the village, next to the fireplace, writing a post I should have written time ago.