15 December 2008, by David
I guess my earlier post about the riots in Greece over the last week was reaching for a heavy “editorial” slant (I had a brief career as a would-be journalist nearly 10 years ago…), and a few people have since been asking us what our specific, personal experience was like and how things are now.
So here goes, a more personal recollection and post-chaos update, with apologies to the folks who already got a variation on this via email replies – but hey, think of it as you having got the exclusive story first! (there’s the old newsman in me again…)
Chania wasn’t as deep in it as Athens or Thessaloniki (1st and 2nd biggest Greek cities respectively). There were street protests in and around the city center, but nothing really violent.
To my knowledge, the worst that happened here were some smashed bank windows, slogans against the police and government graffitied on buildings (nothing new there, actually), some garbage was lit on fire, and a bunch of up-to-no-good punks looted the local OTE phone office.
All this happened relatively close to where we live – it’s a small city. But from our vantage point, we just heard a chanting crowd and police sirens.
“The villagers are getting restless” kind of went through my head and during the height of it all, maybe I opted to not venture too far out of our neighborhood at night when taking the dog for a walk. There was definitely electricity in the air – the waxing-to-full moon lent some appropriate “craziness” to the ambiance – but there was no real sense of danger.
I hear reports that Athens and Thessaloniki continue to have sporadic rioting and protests, but things have calmed down here in Chania over the last 48 hours — at least it seems that way. Earlier this evening there was a relatively normal event of some sort with music and people cheering in one of the big local squares, where protests were held just days earlier.
Certainly the underlying socioeconomic issues are still very much in need of attention. But regarding the recent civil unrest, at least here in Chania, ola kala. Everything is OK. I guess. For now… we’ll see.