Living in Greece, Personal, Travel, Weekly Series

A Week in Greece #44: MALL OUTING AND THE ATHENS MARATHON

I’m late writing about last week, but until yesterday there was very little to write about.  I was in full post-friend-visit mode, which means I spent almost all of the time I wasn’t working watching Battlestar Galactica with my cat.  It was me at my sad introvert best.  There are really only two things worth mentioning, but they are two pretty great things!

On Tuesday, we were supposed to go out on a boat with all the HD staff and participants.  But weather was bad, so we went to the mall instead.  I honestly think this turned out to be a better idea!  We went bowling together, and it was really fun to be silly and competitive and supportive.  Everyone but four of us left after that, at which point we all got lunch together.  Then we went to a sweet shop and bought a bunch of different kinds of things to share.  We wandered the mall and shopped together.

I spent most of my time with our Greek-speaking participant, because neither of us are hugely into shopping.  Using our broken language communication, I held her stuff and gave her feedback as she tried things on.  It was really fun, and a good opportunity to struggle through communication instead of relying on a translator.

It was also a great experience because this particular participant struggles with anxiety.  She doesn’t go out shopping a lot, and things like going to the register alone stressed her out.  I found this out later, because our broken communication is not that nuanced.  But that turned out to be great!  Since the only two staff there spoke mostly English, she had to kind of suck it up and do things on her own….and she did!  Non-consumerist therapy at the mall, who knew.

The other noteworthy event was on Sunday.  Kendra ran in the Athens Marathon, so a bunch of us met up after church to go downtown and cheer for her.  Dawn had her motorcycle, and I leaped at the chance to get to ride with her again (it’s been months).  The two of us navigated our way to the race route mere minutes before Kendra ran past, and we screamed and cheered.  Then we met up with everyone else, and with Kendra, and took seats in the stadium to wait for her friend to finish.

While we were waiting, I think we saw someone die!?  I have been scouring news articles all yesterday and today, but have seen nothing.  I hope that means he’s okay, but I can’t make sense of what I saw if he’s not dead.

Basically, this guy collapsed on the track less than 100 meters from the finish line.  Some runners stopped to flag workers over to him, but he didn’t move.  It took forever for enough workers to realize something was seriously wrong, but then they rolled him on his back and started doing CPR.  They brought over a wheelchair, and then a cot, but they couldn’t stop what they were doing long enough to move him.  They brought over a defibrillator but after that they continued to do CPR.  For over five minutes, total.  I don’t think that’s good!?  They held up white sheets to block people’s view of what was going on, but they left a space directly where our line of sight was.

The real worrying thing is that, finally, they loaded him into an ambulance.  Alone.  No medical personnel got in the back with him.  And they were moving slowly – opening doors and forgetting to put bags in the back.  The woman who appeared at the end – running from the stands, was left back as well, and as the ambulance drove away, she wailed loud enough to be heard over the music and thousands of people.  Because oh yeah, people were still finishing their marathons and happy music was blaring and it was super surreal.

I don’t know what happened, and we were all kind of shell-shocked for a while, but we silently agreed to set that aside and be excited for Kendra’s friend when she finished the race and just celebrate together.

Celebrating meant that we went over to the Clark’s house.  I immediately gravitated to their bookshelves, and Dawn let me borrow two books before insisting I should also take a third.  Jonathan, Dawn’s husband, made us all (there were…13?  14?) a massive meal of lasagna and potatoes and salad and lava cake.  I got in a wonderful conversation with two teenagers and two adults about who the best superhero in the world is.  I found my people.

We wound up staying until 10:30 p.m., coffee turning into wine turning into tea.  We were a bunch of Brits and Americans, so we discussed politics and the surprising turns our countries have taking recently.  But we also made fun of each other’s vocabularies and laughed at the “flort” their youngest daughter made.  It was really delightful, and a wonderful social boost to kick me out of my sadness and back into life in Greece.

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